Patents – A Marketer’s Game Too

Although we do it all the time, the decision to purchase a product is actually a complex calculation.  The purchaser is assessing value, considering alternatives and evaluating the veracity of the claims made for the product.  Good marketers know this and look for ways to add weight and credibility to their promotional messages.  One source of third-party validation that doesn’t always spring to mind is the company’s patent portfolio.

Patents can be a powerful way for a company to differentiate itself from its competitors.  Labelling a product (or process) as “patented” or “patent pending” creates a perception that it is “cutting edge” or “technologically advanced” and a clear improvement over competitive “commodity” offerings. By branding innovations and promoting their patent status, marketers also imply that the consumer can only obtain these unique characteristics from their products and not those of their competition.

The same principle applies to corporate branding.  The size and growth rate of a patent portfolio are important data points that a clever marketing department can use to differentiate a company from its competitors.  Even significant patent litigation wins can be useful weapons in the marketing department’s arsenal.  Litigation demonstrates to consumers that a company believes its technology is truly valuable and worth fighting for (and by extension, worth buying).  A positive court decision is useful third-party confirmation of a company’s unique technical capabilities.

So if you’re a marketer looking for an edge, reach out to your legal or IP department to discover the gold buried in your company’s patent portfolio.  Because when it comes to patents, why should the lawyers have all the fun?

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Ramesh Rajaduray (IP Strategist)

One Response to “Patents – A Marketer’s Game Too”

  1. Larry Dunkelman says:

    Your claims were perhaps true many years ago when companies would often cite “patented” technology in their products. Now, with the abundant bad press related to patents, patent trolls, and lawsuits, I don’t believe that the public views patents in quite the same way.

    Apple suing Samsung over “rounded corners” have people shaking their heads. They then stop and realize that all this litigation is doing is reducing competition and making the products they want more expensive.

    The fairly recent phenomenon of Patent Assertion Entities (“trolls”) extorting money from startups, businesses and even individuals have, or will, in my opinion, taint the concept of patents all together.

    Patents were introduced as a way to ensure that technology will advance by incenting inventors to reveal their inventions so others could build upon them. Patent rights were granted to protect said inventor. Otherwise, inventors would keep their inventions secret and society would not benefit from future improvements.

    This model has been turned on its head, whereby the patents are now viewed as a source of income and has spawned a multitude of overly broad and vague patents (mostly business method and software) that are being used to extort money and hurt our economy. So much so that the US is in the process of enacting legislation to stem this immoral practice.

    My contention is that in the coming years, companies will not tout their “patents” in their advertising, but keep them secret and hopefully bring them out only when necessary.