As the FT reports economic recession triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, despite the numerous economic interventions from governments around the world, strategically minded businesses must respond rapidly to manage costs and maintain leadership positions. 

The cost of owning and operating large patent portfolios depends on many different factors, not least the number of inventions and also the number of territories pursued.  There are many other controllable factors influencing the total cost of running a typical patent portfolio, with for example monitoring and reporting measures, decision-making infrastructure, process flows, instruction chains, and fee agreements, all contributing to overall portfolio costs.   Whilst businesses may be reluctant to abandon individual IPR's, they should be ensuring they are meeting best of breed efficiency benchmarks.

For larger patent portfolios, with numerous inventions and multiple territories involved, the various approaches to invention protection, alternative patent filing pathways, operations, process flows, and instruction chains, can in practice contribute vastly different amounts to the cost of owning and operating a patent portfolio. We are seeing increased enquiries from larger portfolio owners seeking to re-examine portfolio operations to achieve global optimisation based on scale relationships and efficient processes. Experience has shown that leveraging scale and good organisation can deliver material savings to legal budgets. 

Economic turmoil also presents opportunities to bolster patent portfolios, particularly where existing portfolios contain gaps in invention cover or territorial footprint. These gaps may have been a concern for some time or they may be with regard to future plans. Perhaps now is the time to turn that FTO concern into your own IP asset? Perhaps a business representing a risk on your roadmap will be more susceptible to an approach in the current circumstances?  We are currently helping savvy businesses wishing to re-examine their intellectual property landscapes for opportunities to procure intellectual assets or strategic partnerships.  

Some businesses are looking to recoup earlier investment in IP assets by instigating monetisation and revenue generation projects.  Although this requires a different mindset, and some upfront investment,  generating revenue from latent intellectual property assets is something c-suites all over the world are considering in detail, or worrying about others doing.  In practice, preparedness is the key to minimising the chance of these initiatives becoming high risk and high cost (irrespective of whether you are an enforcer or on the receiving end).  Clear objectives, diligent economic evaluation and counter-risk assessments need to be performed to anticipate the real business impact, evaluate options and identify the resources required to successfully navigate. 

Now, as ever, IP managers and in-house legal teams appreciate external lawyers capable of keeping business objectives and agreed budgets firmly in sight, as they traverse these rocky waters.