patentsYou might have a patent for a medical device, but is it really worth anything? If you focused on the wrong things when you had the patent application drafted, it might not be worth much.

At Forma, we are not patent attorneys. But we do work with clients to conceive and develop novel innovations. Sometimes our task is to develop ways to avoid infringement of established intellectual property. Sometimes the technology we are working to protect is entirely novel and new to the world. In still other cases, we’re asked to envision ways to extend patent claims in order to head off opportunities for competitors to develop workarounds.

Regardless of the specific concern – work around existing IP, extend existing IP, or develop strong IP for new technology – if the solutions don’t work within a business model they won’t have value. Jackie Hutter recommends focusing on the functionality that the innovation brings, rather than focusing on its implementation for a particular application.

Avoid common pitfalls!

Designing for a specific implementation is a trap that physician-inventors can fall into easily. It’s likely that they’ve come upon their innovation because they recognized a shortcoming of existing solutions in their specialty. As the example in Hutter’s post illustrates, failing to consider the innovation’s application to implementation in other specialties can reduce its value to the point that it isn’t economically viable. There either isn’t enough of a market or alternative means of accomplishing the functionality of the innovation weren’t explored.

Not all intellectual property has value. If you are hoping to profit by licensing or selling your innovative technology, be sure you’ve established there is a viable commercial opportunity before you invest the significant time resources it will take. Simply obtaining a patent will not bring value in and of itself.