Patents as a Valuable Asset

Richard Rimer

June 2, 2023

Patents are a type of intellectual property that cover inventions. Well, that is a simplistic view of patents.

In reality there are 3 types of patents: utility, design and plant. Most people think of utility patents, which covers a new or improved product, process, or machine. Design patents protects the way a product looks. Plant patents cover the production of a specific type of plant (i.e., flora).

One odd thing about patents is that you MUST have a registration to be able to enforce your rights. This registration gives you the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the patented item. Of course this could be a huge competitive advantage. Since this right is so powerful, there are bars on what can be patented and when you can request a patent. Patent rights are jurisdictional in nature, which means that a patent in the US does not grant rights in other countries.

Almost any type of company could rely on patent rights. Patents tend to be more common (and therefore more valuable) in the manufacturing space or other places where machines are heavily relied upon.

Understanding how your company uses products, processes or machines is step one in reviewing your reliance on potentially patentable material. You next would want to ensure that your company’s use of these items does not infringe on someone else’s rights. Finally, if it’s available, you may want to register your rights in the patent. This will exclude others from using it (or creating a supplemental source of licensing income).