International Intellectual Property Legal Blog

How can business owners protect patents in a global economy?

Did you know that filing a patent in one country does not protect your idea from being used by someone else in another country? This is because patents are based on location or territory, and every country has different patent laws. If you file a patent in the United States, it will only apply in the United States and its use is only protected in that territory.

The problem is that we live and work in a global economy. Doing business abroad has become a norm, including selling goods across the internet and working with suppliers and producers in other countries. This makes it critical for staying competitive to know how to protect your ideas and inventions from your home country as well as abroad.

How can business owners protect patents in a global economy?

Did you know that filing a patent in one country does not protect your idea from being used by someone else in another country? This is because patents are based on location or territory, and every country has different patent laws. If you file a patent in the United States, it will only apply in the United States and its use is only protected in that territory.

The problem is that we live and work in a global economy. Doing business abroad has become a norm, including selling goods across the internet and working with suppliers and producers in other countries. This makes it critical for staying competitive to know how to protect your ideas and inventions from your home country as well as abroad.

Corporate strategy and patent volumes

Patent portfolios have been instrumental to large corporations for some time. Patents can be leveraged for revenue growth, defending market position, putting competitors on the defensive, and other tasks essential to implementing a corporate vision. Recent data may give insight into corporate filing strategies. 

After 200 years, patent volume still grows, along with strategy needs

In June of this year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued its ten millionth patent for an invention that improves laser detection and ranging (LADAR) and may be used in autonomous vehicles, for space exploration, and in other high-tech industries. That's impressive work for a department that began more than 200 years ago with one patent, signed by George Washington, for "making pot ash and pearl ash."

For the past 30 years, as technology and industry have advanced, the number of United States patent applications have increased substantially. Patents are, and always have been, a foundation of the global corporate landscape and serve as a bellwether for innovation and trajectory. Patents can be leveraged for revenue growth, defending market position, putting competitors on the defensive, and other tasks essential to implementing a corporate vision. And, as countless in-house counsels will attest, patent strategy closely mirrors corporate priorities across many industries. Recent data may give insight into corporate patent filing strategies.

The threat of patent trolls

A patent troll, also called a patent assertion entity (PAE), is someone who wreaks havoc on legitimate companies by attempting to make money off of invalid patents. His goal is to make money from a lawsuit, not the manufacture and sale of a product.

Here's how it works

The troll obtains a patent for an idea without the intent of ever developing that product. The troll then sues the company, or companies, that manufactures a product based on that idea, claiming patent infringement.

How much does counterfeiting cost companies?

Counterfeiting goods has become the costliest crime worldwide. In 2018, counterfeiters are seeing sales of these products up to $1.7 trillion a year. By 2022, the product pirate problem is anticipated to reach $2.8 trillion.

How e-commerce plays a role

Many products and parts are produced overseas and purchased through e-commerce. Online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and eBay provide the perfect platform for counterfeiters to bring fake goods to market. The sheer volume of mail coming into the U.S. with these illegitimate products being delivered is staggering and, therefore, impossible for postal workers to manage the excessive number of counterfeit packages which arrive in the United States every day.

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