Patent Maintenance Expenses and Risk Control
Raymond Yu, Partner
Due to elevating attentions on patent rights in recent years, the number of patent applications filed by corporations has increased every year. However, the patent maintenance expense has also increased geometrically. Most corporations include the patent maintenance expense in their budget for patent application, so when they obtain more and more patents, the patent maintenance expense will gradually supplant the patent application budget.
The solutions are: (1) increase the budget, (2) reduce the amount of new patent application, (3) patent trading or licensing, and (4) give up less important patents.
Solution (1) is not realistic, because increasing budgets will always be a bottomless pit if the company is not going to introduce a patent monetizing operation. Solution
(2) is the most common mode, but the firewall of patent protection will get weaker and weaker. Solution (3) is possible, provides that the company possesses a complete patent portfolio which is not easy to achieve without assistance from experienced patent attorneys. Solution (4) is feasible and cost-efficient, but an in-house IP manager would tend not to provide such suggestion since no one can take this kind of responsibility besides CEO. In fact, patent abandonment is a kind of risk control. If the company could build a patent evaluation process which further enforced with assessments from external consultants or patent attorneys, the company will be able to reduce the risk of patent abandonment to the minimum.