In our October 15th blog post Don't Forget About the "Rembrandt in the Attic"?, we discussed how a failure to think strategically about IP may have been a overlooked factor in the financial collapse of Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG). DDMG as debtor in possession has now sought court approval to sell the 3D patents along with the company’s remaining assets. The assets will be auctioned in separate groups, with the six granted 3D patents and two applications sold as one group. For any parties considering making a bid for the 3D patents, one essential question must be asked: how much are these patents worth?
The recently concluded and highly publicized patent infringement trial between Apple and Samsung was significant because design patents have long been seen as less valuable and less strategic than utility patents. In reality, design patents do have strategic value, especially when used within the context of an overall IP strategy.
The case of DDMG is not unique; IP mismanagement is pervasive throughout the media and entertainment industry. For a number of reasons, companies often fail to recognize the value of their intellectual assets, and the business continues to move forward while the IP strategy does not. When companies start to consider IP in the face of a crisis, be it bankruptcy or an infringement lawsuit, it is too late to go back and reap the benefit of their creative thinking and innovation.
For patents specifically, the best IP strategy for China balances the use of both Utility Model and Invention patents. For a comprehensive IP strategy, foreign companies should not just look at the term of protection and assume that Invention patents offer all the protection they need. Companies should use the full range of IP protections including not just patents but also trade secrets and know-how, black boxes, and defensive publications.
The rise in the prevalence of technology and patent filings in the car rental industry is creating the possibility of an industry disruption due to intellectual property. Car rental companies that acknowledge and prepare for the increasing importance of IP will stand to benefit, while companies that ignore the importance of IP will suffer.