Why do patent searches need to be carried out by expert patent analysts?
▾The extremely high cost of patent litigation
A thorough freedom to operate search will put your attorney in a good position to defend you against any litigation when marketing a product, especially if you are active in a field that is particularly prone to litigation, such as mobile phone technology or pharmaceutical generics. See the following articles.
Five patent awards over $1 billion, including $2.54 billion to IndenixClick
Pfizer and Takeda settled heartburn drug patent case with generic drugmakers for $2.15 billion in 2013. [Amount reduced in 2016.]Click
Caltech wins a $1.1-billion verdict against Apple and BroadcomClick
Alcatel-Lucent v. Microsoft Corp. was a long-running patent infringement case in which Alcatel-Lucent was initially awarded $1.53 billion in 2007. The damages award was reversed in 2012 to $26.3 million.Click
Apple persuaded court to reverse award of $234 million to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previous total had been $506 million in connection with infringement of US5781752, to the patentee Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).Click
Up to treble damages are allowed in the United States for knowing infringement.Click
Litigation costs could be up to $3 million through discovery and $5 million through trial.Click
After a seven year dispute, Apple won $539 million in damages after Samsung was found to have infringed Apple's design patents for the iPhone®.Click
The freedom to operate analysis helps prevent mistakes which could result in huge costs.Click
In areas where patents are strong, such as the chemical industry, patent trolls do less well than in areas of weak patents e.g. software. For patent suits involving patent trolls or non-practicing entities (NPEs) as they are known, one author calculates that NPEs cost private firms ~ $30 billion a year.Click
▾The benefits of being prepared
In order to protect your invention, you want to know the prior art before your patent application is drafted. We have a reputation of being able to find things well hidden and we can uncover the most deeply buried prior art. You will be prepared for the patent offices' search reports and you won't receive any nasty unwelcome surprises in terms of prior art you were unaware of.
Know the prior art for your gene sequences to protect against validity challenges to your patent. DuPont Nutrition Biosciences challenged Novozymes' US 7713723 which described numerous alpha-amylase variations. On appeal the patent held to be invalid for lack of written description.Click
The cost of obtaining a US patent can be $30-50,000, so it is important to know the prior art.Click
Patents and applications can be amended, but ideally the prior art should be known to the patent attorney at the time of filing.Click
▾Maximise protection of your invention
Why are searches of patents likely to be so informative? Patents contain lots of information not found in any other sources. Knowing the patent landscape of an area helps an inventor to understand their subject, and be best placed to come up with an improvement to solve existing problems.
Is 95% of chemical technology information found only in patents?Click
Around 80% of technical information is found only in patents, although some caveats apply to this figure.Click
▾Economic value of patents
It may be said that if it is worth copying, it is worth protecting; so help to protect your invention with high quality patent searches. The following references look at the value of patents.
There is a clear link between number of patents and economic productivity, as shown by Berkes et al in their article Global Innovation Spillovers and Productivity: Evidence from 100 years of World Patent Data.Click
The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellows in the US hold more than 41,500 US patents and have generated $1.6 trillion in revenue.Click
Intellectual property rights (IPR) industries generated over €200 billion of the UK’s GDP.Click
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have filed a European patent application are 21% more likely to experience turnover growth of 10% or more during three consecutive years.Click
See also our section on the "Most valuable patent?" for some inventions that formed the basis of well-known companies.