Abandoning patents – when to do it

Having a program for regularly reviewing and abandoning patent applications is a critical part of an IP Management strategy.

So when do you do it? Optimally before it gets too expensive. Fail fast, if you can – ie if you’re going to go to the trouble of filing a provisional application, then work extremely hard in the next twelve months to work out if the thing will be viable in the market, not just technically. If this isn’t enough time, then before publication (6 months later) is another useful milestone (though it has no impact on expense – just useful intelligence for your competitors). If 18 months is still enough time, then do your utmost to work it out before the next very expensive hurdle – National Phase Entry (assuming you went the PCT route) – ie usuallly 30 months from the original filing date.

I know that some companies will wait as long as seven years before making such a decision – which is fine, if you can afford it. There seems to be a large opportunity cost though, in the other development work you could have undertaken with the same resources if you’d been able to kill these applications earlier.

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