Patent Counsels and Inventors Could Use Creativity Tools to Direct Invention for Forward-Patents.             

Patent counsels and inventors are essential members of the team that assists companies and individuals in navigating the process of obtaining patents. Throughout history, their primary concern has been ascertaining whether proposed inventions satisfy the prerequisites for receiving a patent. However, patent counsels and inventors can go beyond obtaining a patent by incorporating creativity tools to obtain more “Forward patents” as well.   This article investigates a wide range of creative tools that patent counsels can utilize to increase the value and impact of patents for various products.

Creativity Tools

What exactly do we mean when we talk about creative tools? The term “creativity tools” refers to an assortment of strategies and procedures designed to encourage creative thinking and the resolution of issues. These tools provide structured frameworks that can be utilized for the generation of ideas, the identification of opportunities, and the discovery of novel perspectives. Patent counsels can facilitate a more proactive and strategic approach to the invention using tools designed to stimulate creativity.

Example: One of the creative tools that gets a lot of use is called “point-of-view thinking, “which takes a topic, like a patent, and the patent counsel and inventors can change their point-of-view about the patent, for instance, what would a production engineer do to the patent to improve it, what would a customer do to leverage the patent, etc.. Using Creativity Thinking, patent counsels and inventors can get together stakeholders to come up with a variety of new future ideas relating to the patentable features.

Another broad area of creative thinking is a fundamental thinking process for Associative thinking, a cognitive process that connects seemingly unrelated ideas, concepts, or stimuli. It is the basis for creative thinking as it allows individuals to make novel and innovative connections, leading to the generation of original ideas. Associative thinking involves breaking away from conventional or linear thought patterns and exploring various tangents, possibilities, and perspectives.

In associative thinking, individuals draw upon their existing knowledge, experiences, and memories to link disparate ideas. They look for similarities, patterns, or shared attributes between elements and use these connections to create new associations and insights.

Associative thinking often involves divergent thinking, where individuals generate multiple ideas or possibilities instead of converging on a single solution. By exploring different associations, individuals can uncover unique and unexpected combinations that spark creative solutions to problems or inspire new inventions.

This type of thinking can be stimulated through various techniques such as brainstorming, mind mapping, analogical thinking, or random word association. These methods encourage individuals to make unconventional connections and explore different dimensions of a problem or concept.

Overall, associative thinking is a foundation for creative thinking by enabling individuals to break free from linear patterns, connect diverse ideas, and generate innovative solutions. It fuels new ideas, insights, and perspectives, fostering creativity in various domains such as art, science, technology, and problem-solving.

Forward Patenting

What exactly do we mean when we talk about forward patenting? Forward patenting anticipates and secures patent protection for future technological developments and advancements likely to emerge in the industry. Patent counsels and inventors can strategically direct the invention process in the direction of creating forward patents that are not only relevant today but also possess long-term value. This is accomplished by considering the patent’s various new point-of-view or associative thoughts.

Consider the following scenario: a patent counsel working for an automotive company predicts that electric vehicles will become increasingly popular. They direct the inventors in developing patentable technologies specifically tailored for electric vehicles, such as innovative charging mechanisms or powertrain systems that are efficient in their use of energy.

Supply Chain Thinking

Apply the concept of “supply chain thinking” to the suppliers of the invention, and consider how the supplier could adapt to gain more leverage.

Patent counsels and inventors can consider suppliers’ participation in the invention process if they incorporate supply chain thinking into their forward patenting practice. Understanding the capabilities and potential improvements that suppliers can bring to the table enables inventors to create inventions aligned with the supplier’s expertise, thereby increasing opportunities for leverage and collaboration.

For example, when evaluating new forward patents for a new piece of consumer electronics hardware, the patent counsel and inventors will consider the companies that supply the device’s essential components. The device’s creators can design it to improve performance, reduce costs, or maximize efficiency if they take advantage of the expertise offered by the suppliers.

Customer Chain Thanking

Use “customer chain thinking” to invent new areas that the customer may do to make the most of your patent. Customer chain thinking entails looking at the patent’s impact and possible applications from the customer’s point of view. Patent counsels and inventors can identify new areas for invention that align with customer needs and create opportunities for licensing or collaboration by analyzing how customers may utilize the patented technology in the products or services they provide.

For example, imagine momentarily that a software company has a revolutionary algorithm for data analytics in medical imaging. Using customer chain thinking, where the customers would be the doctors who use the system, the patent counsel and inventor identifies that the customer would take the analysis and plug the results into a final report, so the patent counsel and inventors create an automated reporting system that plugs into the medical health records.  

Business Model Thinking

Utilize business model thinking to think through future economics, which could result in new ways to monetize the positive results of using the patents. This could lead to new ways of monetizing the patents’ positive results.

When thinking about business models, it is important to consider the broader economic implications and the potential revenue streams that can be generated from patents. Patent counsels and inventors can guide inventors to create forward patents that protect the technology and offer opportunities for monetization and market advantage by imagining the future economic landscape. This is possible because patent counsels and inventors can envision the future economic landscape.

Example: Using the patented drug delivery system as a foundation, a patent counsel and inventor tales the point-of-view of a packaging company that creates the final packaging and directions and the idea that becomes a forward-patent of monetizing a research portal that the packager can apply a QR code on the package to get to paid research on the drug delivery system, so that each time the QR code is activated, the packager can get a revenue stream share from the signups of the paid research.

Time Scale Thinking

When considering how patents will be used in the future, “time scale thinking” should be used to consider how technology will evolve in 2, 5, 7, and 10 years.

Thinking on a time scale necessitates investigating patents’ possible consequences and applicability across various time horizons. Patent counsels and inventors can consider the creation of forward patents that can leverage what will happen.

For example, in the field of telecommunications, if the patent is on a new cell phone power management improvement, the patent counsel and inventors could consider that in the future, using the patent, the cell phones can divert more power to performance as a trade-off to battery life and provide forward patents that allow the software in the cell phone to make this trade-off. 

Change the Claim Type Thinking

Make use of “change the claim type thinking” to determine whether or not the patent can be expanded with various new claim types, such as functional claims, systems claim, method claims, and apparatus claims.

The change in the claim type line of thinking involves investigating the various claim types that can be incorporated into forward patents to broaden their protection and scope. Patent counsels and inventors can strategically broaden the patent’s coverage and increase its value by considering alternative claim formats. These alternative claim formats include system, method, and functional claims.

For example, Inventors are encouraged by a patent counsel who a software company employs to give some thought to protecting the software code and the one-of-a-kind method or system carried out by the software. Because of this, the company can obtain forward patents that are broader in scope and covers a greater variety of facets of the invention.

How – Why Thinking

Using  “how-why thinking,” one can “abstract the claim up” with whys questions and “focus down the claims with detailed how questions.” Thinking from a how-why perspective requires abstracting the patent by understanding the underlying principles, mechanisms, and the issue it addresses. Patent counsels and inventors can identify potential improvements or alternative embodiments that can enhance the value of a patent by analyzing the “how” and “why” aspects of an invention.

Example: When working with a medical device brace for easing knee pain manufacturer, a patent counsel and inventor will investigate the “how” and “why” of their invention for more forward patents. When thinking about the “whys,” the answer is to have long-term recovery, so the medical device brace is enhanced with a timer/calendar to ensure the user uses the brace in a controlled way for long-term recovery. In using “how thinking,” m, the realization is that the brace is not only bracing but also allows minimal bending in multiple access. Hence, the forward patent becomes one where the doctor can adjust, over time, the bending capability in various angles to optimize getting better at bracing and obtaining bending angles more healthy for the patient.

Invent Underneath Thinking

“Invent underneath thinking” is a technique that can be utilized to generate ideas for enhancing the fundamental aspects of the patent. The process of “invent underneath thinking” entails analyzing the fundamental aspects of the invention in question and coming up with a list of potential enhancements or alternative approaches. Patent counsels and inventors can result in the creation of forward patents that provide superior solutions and offer a competitive advantage that concentrates on enhancing the core functionalities or addressing limitations.

As an illustration, a patent counsel and inventor, who have patented a home appliance for grinding coffee beans, invent underneath thinking, recognizing that for certain types of customer needs, some customers want finer grains, some want larger grains, and some want mixed grain sizes, so forward patents are created on software controls that vary time and speed of the grinder based upon customer selection. In essence, taking what is already done, grinding, and grinding with advanced control of time speed, ramp up, ramp down, etc.

Patent counsels and inventors can actively direct the invention process toward forward patenting if they use creativity tools in their practice. Patent counsels have access to various creative tools that can help them maximize the value and impact of patents on a wide range of products. These tools include supply chain thinking, customer chain thinking, business model thinking, time scale thinking, changing the claim type, thinking about how and why, and inventing underneath thinking. Patent counsels can assist companies and inventors in securing patents by taking a more proactive and strategic approach. This helps ensure that the patents meet the requirements in place today and can withstand any future technological advancements, encourage innovation, and open up new revenue opportunities.

Although there are many more tools than described here, the benefits are obtained with proper training and facilitation techniques that experts can train.