Protecting a novel product, invention or process with a patent is crucial for any inventor or business owner. It allows the patent holder to control the use, manufacture and sale of the invention, giving that party a competitive edge in the marketplace.
However, a patent can be valuable even when the patent holder no longer makes or sells the invention.
The Blackberry lawsuits
Former smartphone maker Blackberry is one example of how valuable the ongoing protection provided by patents can be. Even though the company no longer manufactures hardware or develops new equipment, it holds approximately 44,000 patents, according to this report.
These patents are at the center of multiple lawsuits filed by Blackberry. The company has filed suits against Twitter, Facebook and Snap (which used to be Snapchat) alleging patent infringement.
While Blackberry may no longer be in the same competitive field as the three social media giants, it is claiming that they are unlawfully using its technology. It is also accusing Twitter of co-opting Blackberry mobile advertising technology and using it on their platform without permission.
Because Blackberry was an early innovator in the mobile phone arena, it was in a position to invent many technologies and solutions related to mobile advertising, push notification and silencing notifications. While their products may no longer be relevant, the technology created to develop them in the first place remains popular in other products and platforms.
Value of being first
No doubt, being first is valuable, especially when it comes to the tech industry. However, in the rush to get to market or develop the next big thing, business owners must ensure they protect their products and their companies.
These protections include securing a patent for inventions and securing permission to use existing technology. Failure to take these steps can lead to costly consequences in the form of missed opportunities and steep fines.
It is also important to take action against parties who infringe on existing patents. Even if your business no longer makes a specific product, you have rights granted by the patent for as long as it lasts.