A successful utilization and commercialization of inventions is akin to playing the lottery – while the reward from a successful patented invention can be vast, the chance of obtaining a truly successful patent is slim.On the one hand, the individual inventor or the patent owner considers his invention as a ticket to considerable financial rewards. Indeed, to many researchers and inventors, a patented technology is considered a benchmark of commercial success, merely because it is patented. We all like to believe that our patent could become that next pharmaceutical blockbuster, such as Lipitor that generated sales of more than $US Billion 8.5 in 2002 (IMS Health 2003). On the other hand, observations prove that only fraction of patented inventions are exploited commercially and are turned into profit making business. Let’s discuss the framework required for identifying inventions worth patenting.

Does the invention have longevity? Is the invention useful for people in long run?
The invention has to be useful not only today but years later so that it can licensed into market and exploited in manner that even infringers can be caught.

RCom may allow users to create own music tones

Reliance Communications (RCom) is in talks with Hyderabad-based Altruist Technologies to create an open source network to allow its 105 million wireless subscribers (GSM and CDMA networks) to create their own content for mobile devices. Initially, RCom users will be able to create their own caller tunes and ringtones by uploading the content through RCom’s web interface. The technology developed by Altruist will enable the customer content to be edited, linked and activated on the user’s mobile connection. RCom sees major utilisation of this technology to expand its caller tune and ringtone catalogue. It currently acquires its musical content through licensing agreements with various content providers in India and abroad. It has a vast music library, with over 350,000 caller tunes and ringtones. This alliance will allow RCom to acquire user-generated mobile content on a large scale without investing in content acquisition costs.

Does the invention provide licensing or business opportunities?

Money can only be earned by licensing into market or even cross licensing with competitors, thereby providing a greater scope of design freedom. Patents on technical infrastructure often provide licensing opportunities to non-competitors outside of the patentee’s primary business space. This creates a source of additional return on the investment without giving up the competitive advantages provided by the patent in the patentee’s markets. In some instances, patents may serve as the core of a new business opportunity that can be spun out of the company.

Are others likely to infringe what?

A primary solution to a major technical problem, may provide a powerful blocking patent, whereas a “one of many” solution generally adds value in a portfolio built around a product or technology infrastructure. Even if the invention is not itself a candidate for a blocking patent, consider whether it can, together with a number of other patents form a sufficient”mine field” of protection around the patentee’s business space. This approach is commonly used in patent licensing pools that cluster around a technology standard. Further, patents on second and third best solutions, even if they are not going to be in the patentee’s own products, can form effective barriers to entry by increasing the cost to others to design around.

Can infringement be cost effectively detected, particularly before litigation?

Duplication of “customer facing” technology or features (e.g.,end user products or services, user interface features, business methods) is easier to detect and confirm infringement. This increases the likelihood of efficient enforcement and reducesthe costs associated with convincing an infringer to cease or take a license. Patents on internal technical architectures, such as chip structures, internal data processing algorithms, and other “below the surface” features are more costly difficult to enforce, as they often require access to a competitor’s engineering documentation, source code or other trade secret material. In addition, patents on these types of inventions often do not directly target ecommerce competitors who integrate software and systems from other vendors to create their ecommerce business. Better are the high level “serviceoffering” patents that describe the functional aspects of the patentee’s services or products, independent of specific technical architecture of implementation.

Recent effort in india:

To ensure that its technologies end up benefiting the society and are commercialized on a larger scale, the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay  has streamlined its technology licensing process. A website has been created to enable interested parties and potential licensors to review its research and development efforts available for licensing, and express their interest online. They can view the details of the patents and published patent applications, which have not been licensed so far.