Use Competitive Intelligence to Your Advantage
Your medical device business needs competitive intelligenceÑinformation on patents, competitors’ intellectual property rights, and outside endeavors that could interfere with your product’s development. That’s why it is important to conduct a landscape analysis and a patentability analysis early in a product’s research and development phases. This knowledge will help you focus your product’s development, acquire the strongest patent protection, and go to market with a clear understanding of the risks involved.
Though no search can provide a freedom to operate or patentability guarantee, knowledge of the competitive environment will give insight to help you navigate the road ahead.
An initial landscape analysis of existing patents and published patent applications should be conducted prior to incurring significant research and development costs. Despite a sound research and development plan, if licenses are required to bring the product to market (which may not be available on reasonable terms), that product could lose commercial viability. Often, slight design changes, most easily implemented in early R&D stages, can reduce material risk. Companies should proactively design their products with knowledge of other’s rights in the field to avoid lost development time and costly redesigns.
A patentability analysis should also be considered early in a product’s life cycle, preferably before filing a utility patent application or early-stage financing. Without patent protection, costs associated with research and development, obtaining regulatory approval, and launching a product are usually squandered.
A patent and non-patent literature search on the technology could prevent costly research and development on a previously-described product. In addition, it could reveal potential licensing and collaboration opportunities. Plus, an understanding of prior art can improve your patent application’s strength. This knowledge enables companies to anticipate potential examination rejections, and in some cases, perform side-by-side experiments to demonstrate your product’s improvements.
Once a patent strategy is implemented, keyword searches should be used to monitor patent publications. This helps protect a company’s position within its industry. Knobbe Martens has automated protocols for weekly keyword searches of patent and patent applications and for pulling abstracts and claims of relevant publications. This is why our attorneys can rapidly review the search results at minimal expense. In addition to revealing industry directions and specific competitors, our monitoring service helps identify potential collaborators, infringers, and targets for offensive legal actions such as reexamination proceedings, third party observations, opposition proceedings, and interferences.
U.S. and European laws impose strict time limits during which a company can avail itself of these legal options. Monitoring patent publications improves a company’s ability to file such actions in the requisite time frame.
If you would like more information on landscape analyses, patentability analyses, or setting-up a monitoring service, please contact Gerard von Hoffman.