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Addressing 3rd-Party Patent Protection in the Product Development Process

S. Weseman
IP Focus Law Group, Ltd., US

Keywords:
product development, patent infringement, clearance, risk

Abstract:
Third-party patent protection can be an obstacle to product development and introduction. Some development efforts completely ignore patent issues until a late-term crisis arises. Identified too late in the product development cycle, patent issue may add unacceptable costs (e.g., royalties) or even block product introductions altogether. At the other extreme, some would-be product development efforts get bogged down in excessive concerns over third-party patent protection without exploring the substance of the protection. Patent holders often rely on a combination of related weapons to perpetuate artificial barriers to new product entry. These weapons include (1) ominous market perceptions of extensive patent protection, (2) the complexity of multi-patent portfolios, and (3) non-specific threats of patent litigation. Surrounding each of these factors is the relatively high cost of patent legal services. Furthermore, corporate patent departments are also reluctant to undertake resource-intensive, open-ended product clearance projects. The paper provides planning suggestions, training strategies and example scenarios for addressing patent issues cost effectively and better assessing the true risk of patent infringement liability.

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