On the Other Side of the Castle Wall

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Leading patent strategist Robert Cantrell, author of “Outpacing the Competition: Patent-Based Business Strategy” and “Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War”, has joined iRunway as Vice President of Sales.

A year ago today, I wrote a blog post titled “Is a Patent Really Defensive?”  The central argument was that patents, like the real stone and mortar castles of old, are assertive instruments designed to claim space, and that the value of a castle would depend upon whether an opponent of means would find value in taking or destroying that castle, irrespective of whether he could do so in practice. I built that argument from the perspective of an individual who had spent over three years setting in motion research projects where the aim was to invalidate patents or create a reasonable threat that a
client could invalidate them – or put another way, castle busting, or showing up outside the castle gates with enough potential power to secure a good result.

I recently joined iRunway, and with clients, this now has me looking at the same problem from the other side of the castle wall. That does not in any way change the central argument that a patent is an assertive instrument. It does change the nature of the research. Three key questions when looking over any given castle (patent) are:

  1. Does it claim space that will matter to someone else of means?
  2. Is it strong enough to withstand the force of invalidity attacks it might receive therefore?
  3. What could be done to make the most of the strength it has?

I do not recall ever having my old team defeated by a competitive patent if a client was willing to throw enough resources into the invalidity research – just as there was never really such a thing as an impregnable castle. My team members even flew to remote university libraries in other countries where we had reason to believe we could find invalidating evidence in hard-copy form. We could certainly see, though, the difference in how hard it would be to invalidate any given patent that would weigh on decisions to mount an invalidation effort, and see effective patent networks that meant there was more than one castle to bust. Having that background on invalidating patents, I am looking forward to playing the game from the other side of the castle wall with a team adept at finding good patents and making the most of the claims that a patent has.

(Featured image source: https://pixabay.com/p-149287/?no_redirect)

Robert L. Cantrell
Robert L. Cantrell

A patent strategist, Robert Cantrell is the author of “Outpacing the Competition: Patent-Based Business Strategy” and “Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War”.


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