Patents have been getting some pretty bad press lately. Between stories about patent trolls in The Economist and on NPR’s This American Life and the patent wars raging between Apple, Google, Microsoft, HTC, Samsung, etc., tech transfer professionals are probably finding their cocktail party conversations getting a bit more interesting… and not in a good way.
As the public hears more, some question why we have patents at all. They think that if patents are causing this much trouble, they must be bad. This misconception is a problem that technology transfer offices (TTOs) can and should proactively work to overcome.
We in the industry know the value that patents provide. Without patent protection, many innovations would never happen because companies would not invest in R&D if they can’t protect their investment from their competition. Likewise, in many cases the ability to monetize on inventions would get dissipated with no legal tool to transfer rights for use. I’m not saying competition isn’t good–I actually think it is essential. But patents are a vital part to fueling that competitive initiative.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you should patent everything. But you shouldn’t patent nothing. (Like the double negative?) Additional reforms to the patent system may be needed, particularly in the area of software, but that’s not the point of this post.
The point is: We need to help the public understand the value of patents. We need to acknowledge current events, and then we need to counter them with the positives that result from patents.
How? By publishing and publicizing TTO success stories and including in those stories a nugget of detail about how having the patent played a role in the success. The importance of the patent in a success no longer goes without saying. It must be said. At Fuentek, we’ll be highlighting the patent detail more in the success stories we prepare for our clients.
Thanks to the Internet, publicizing your successes is easy to do. Put the story on your TTO Web site and then use social media to get the word out. (Soon you’ll be able to post your success stories on the AUTM® Global Technology Portal.) And don’t limit yourself to online stories. Include success stories in your presentations. Once the success story is written, leverage it left and right.
Success stories can be powerful weapons for good. Put them to work for your TTO. To give your tech transfer communications a boost, check out the best practices in our Insights section as well as our success stories.