“Achieving Competitive Advantage by Patenting Your Inventions” with Pat Bhatt, CEO and Founder of Skyaccountant
By Pushpa Chandrashekaraiah
May 2013 Event
Pat provided very good guidance on how to manage an Intellectual Property Portfolio. He specializes in product innovation and owns 15 patents. He discussed Product Managers’ role in identifying and initiating patent applications within organizations.
The first question he asked SVPMA attendees was whether any PMs have patents. There were a number of people that owned patents as PMs, so, he easily made a point that patents are not limited to engineers and PhDs.
Pat mentioned that most of the product managers focus on checking off the items from the roadmap, but spend limited time on reviewing the achievements. It’s PMs responsibility to secure IP and facilitate innovation!
What is an invention? a) new to the world, and b) not obvious.
There are 3 ways of protecting your IP – copyright, trademark and patent. When information is published, it automatically becomes a copyright. However, there may be a conflict of copyright ownership when more than one source publishes similar content at the same time. Then, the first publication gets an automatic copyright. The rule applies to patents as well.
Patent or Trade Secret?
This should be the first question to ask before applying for a patent. Coca Cola kept their formula a secret, a very smart decision. Otherwise, they had to share their formula with the world.
However, there is a high risk in not patenting your invention; there will usually be a high litigation for costly inventions.
Companies like Microsoft, Twitter and Face Book, did not pay attention to patents while their brand grew very fast. If they do not patent their inventions now, it would be difficult to win the war. On the bright side, cloud based technology is not easy to reverse engineer unlike desktop based software.
Two things for PMs to keep in mind while applying for a patent – 1) Utility Patent – New uses for previous inventions can be patented, which is usually overlooked by PMs. 2) Design Patent – May not be a good idea to patent your User Interface in software companies.
He referenced several case studies and details of patent application. Please see his slide deck on Meeting Archives.
Last thing to be proud of as Silicon Valley residents – South Bay has the highest patents approved and East Bay including SF stands 3rd in the list.
Pushpa Chandrashekaraiah, Principal Product Manager at RSA. With 12 years of PM and engineering experience, she has successfully launched several enterprise products. Her interest is in big data enterprise market and security. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.linkedin.com/in/pushpa