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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
How best to license out your patent
James Dyson with one of his vacuum cleaners
The Dyson vacuum cleaner has a number of patents
Patenting an invention or innovation protects a company from rivals illegally copying its technological breakthrough.

Yet at the same time, holding a patent also enables firms - small or large - to make additional revenues by licensing out their technology, as intellectual property (IP) expert Julian Nolan explains.

QUESTION
David Rees, London
My company has several patents. How can we find businesses who want to license them?

ANSWER
Julian Nolan, European licensing boss at technology firm Honeywell
Actively managing an IP portfolio - or "IP store" - can offer solid business benefits.

In some instances active management may mean giving third parties access to some or all of your IP.

Not only can this produce useful additional revenue, but can also help to infuse your technology more widely into the market.

While it's usual to license one or more patents, very often these will be accompanied by IP in other forms - for example software or technical drawings.

The benefits for you - the licensor - only stack up, however, if similarly weighty benefits are true for the licensee of your technology.

This means that a good starting point is to understand to whom your patents might have value, and why this is the case.

Answering the following questions will help you collect the necessary information:

  • What problem are you solving?
  • What benefits do the claims of the patents provide?
  • What are these benefits worth?
  • Why should your potential licensee care?
  • How much additional value will you bring to their business?

It's also important to understand whom you will approach, and how your invention will fit in with their current strategy.

For example, does your invention benefit equipment manufacturers - or suppliers of components used to produce the end equipment?

In other words, where in the supply chain does it make most sense to license your product?

A good tip when approaching businesses is to not use a generic approach.

Rather, understand exactly what benefits your invention brings to the business, and how these fit in with their stated strategy.

Making a tailored approach with this kind of information is more likely to get a response.


To ask Julian Nolan a question about intellectual property, use the email form below.

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