There are many business uses for patents and copyrights and each use can have a chilling effect on innovation and /or the value of your intellectual property.
For example, copyrights/patents can deter competitors from implementing a product or service features using the protected invention. Yes you distinguish your product from competitors, enhancing the marketing or branding of your patented product even if the feature is very minor, but you effect prevent your technology from being used by anyone for any purpose. For example if Levi’s owned a patent on Stonewashed jeans – could Bret Favre even wear Wranglers?
While selling or/and licensing copyrights/patents and related technology can generate revenue, it also can also effectively marginalize the value the patented technology might otherwise add to other devices. Further, selling licenses encourages innovators to find a way to work around your licenses. In addition, you can only sell the copyrights/patents that you can actually protect from piracy in that most end-users will not pay for what they can get for free.
Copyrights/patents may deter your competitors from enforcing their copyrights/patents against you for fear that you may respond by enforcing your copyrights/patents against them. So yeah if they stole from you by all means steal from them. But make sure to get an opinion that they actually stole from you before you steal from them.
Copyrights/patents illustrate the progress of your research and development to potential investors, shareholders and partners. Trust me, the guy that invented Stonewashed jeans didn’t want to share the recipe with the world he just couldn’t find the patent office. More importantly, copyright/patent applications and copyright/patents themselves are assets a new company can create early in its life to create value out of nothing. But if all your budding company is – is a bunch of patents and copyrights then why even have a company? And finally, copyrights/patents and applications may be collateral that increase your borrowing ability, but you rarely get full credit for valuable copyrights/patents and thus you must be desperate for the cash before you encumber a valuable asset.
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