As part of its role in raising awareness of good IP practice, the European Patent Office has recently prepared some very good case studies on company IP portfolios. Based on my experience, I particularly like this one on the Irish company Aerogen, which has aerosol drug delivery technology, and I recommend it to mid-size companies, and ambitious small companies`:
The case study explains that Aerogen has 14 patent families, other IP is not covered in detail.
Features of the case study that particularly resonated with me, based on similar situations, included:
I am frequently asked about the effect of the forthcoming Brexit on IP. IP is an important aspect of modern business and a significant aspect of the current UK/EU negotiations on Brexit. Luckily, the UK has an excellent, experienced team at the UKIPO guiding ministers on IP topics in those negotiations. Here's the need to know stuff.
Patents -little changes on Brexit. The "European" patent system has nothing to do the EU - it's been an example of successful wider European cooperation for the last forty years. So a "European" patent application can still result in protection in the UK after Brexit.
Trade Marks and Designs. In contrast to patents, there are EU systems for trade mark and design registrations. The main issue will be what effect will EU registrations have in the UK after Brexit. Most suspect that existing registrations will be allowed to be converted into UK national registrations. Use of trade marks in the EU should be assessed, as this may affect strategy..
Other rights like Supplementary Protection Certificates, Design Right, plant varieties and copyright will be affected in different ways. Please let me know if you want an update on a specific area.
I have worked over the years with several highly skilled professional patent searchers. For a really important patentability or freedom to operate analysis their skills are invaluable. However, looking for patent publications at a high level is so easy to do and really worthwhile if you want to see how other people have tried to solve the technical challenge that your business is facing. There's no point reinventing the wheel. My recommendation is to look at the European Patent Office's EspaceNet service. It is simple and free to use. Just put a variety of relevant abstract terms in, remembering that one person's "car' is another person's "automobile". Looking at title terms is often not useful because patent attorneys often use fairly bland titles for their client's patent applications. The EPO has just extended these full-text searches to look for terms used in the description and claims. If you are really interested in using this free search tool then work out the International Patent Classification (IPC) or Co-operative Patent Classification code for your technology and use those codes in your searches. The built in help shows you how to do this.
You can find EspaceNet at: worldwide.espacenet.com