What is a Patent Portfolio?

Minneapolis patent attorney Tim Grathwol explains the importance of a patent portfolio.

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What is a patent portfolio and why is it important? So, a patent portfolio is just a collection of patents. And it could be – there’s a lot of different ways to define it. You could define it around a particular product, or a particular core technology, which actually applies to a lot of different products across a company’s portfolio products. And so it’s just a collection of patents.

So, in that collection of patents you have the individual patents that grant the owner with rights to different scopes of inventions. So basically, you can think about a patent as like a property in terms of marking out a fence line around your invention and saying, “Nobody else can come inside this fence.” And so a portfolio is a collection of all of those that you hopefully build up around a particular technology or product to protect it and increase your market advantage, and hopefully the bottom line.

Why is it important? It’s important of terms of strategic importance to the company; competitive advantage; market advantage or market share. The idea of thinking about it as a portfolio is important because it changes the way you think about managing it. Instead of just prosecuting or working on a particular patent in a vacuum, you’re working on a parent in the context of an entire portfolio, and how does that particular patent interact with other patents that you have in that portfolio. For example, if I’m looking at a particular product or technology and I’m working on a particular patent, I may look to other patents in the portfolio to see where I’m missing technological coverage. And I may look at competitive products as well, and so I can manage the manner in which I obtain rights to target particular competitors, or to just increase my coverage in a strategic way.

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