Patent layout

Patent layout refers to the organic combination of patents by enterprises based on factors such as industry, market and law, covering the time, region, technology and product dimensions related to the interests of enterprises, building a strict and efficient patent protection network, and ultimately forming a patent portfolio that is favorable to enterprises.

As the result of patent layout, the patent portfolio of an enterprise should have a certain number of scales, distinct levels of protection, and complete effects, so as to obtain patent competitive advantages in specific fields.

The patent layout of enterprises usually involves four main departments or internal subjects: intellectual property management department, company management department, market department and research and development department (technology department), among which intellectual property management department plays a very important leading and promoting role in the entire patent layout process.


Pattern of patent layout
1. Roadblock layout

Roadblock layout refers to the layout mode of roadblock patent by applying for a patent for one or several technical solutions necessary to achieve a certain technical goal.

The advantage of the roadblock layout is that the application and maintenance costs are low, but the disadvantage is that it leaves a certain space for competitors to bypass the obstacles set by their own side, competitors have the opportunity to break through the obstacles through the avoidance design, and under the inspiration of their own patents, competitors have lower research and development costs. Therefore, it is appropriate to use this model only when the technical solution is necessary to achieve the goal of a technical theme, it is difficult for competitors to bypass it, and the design must invest a lot of human and financial resources.

Enterprises that adopt this mode must have a more comprehensive and accurate grasp of the innovation status of a specific technology field, especially the innovation ability of competitors. This model is more suitable for leading technology enterprises to adopt in the blocking application strategy.

For example, Qualcomm has laid out the basic patents for CDMA, so that whether it is WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, or CDMA2000 3G communication standards, it is impossible to bypass the roadblock of its basic patents. For example, Apple's patent layout for mobile phone and computer touch technology has also set up a big obstacle for competitors to avoid its design.


2. City wall layout

The city wall layout refers to the layout mode in which all circumvention design schemes to achieve a certain technical goal are patented to form a series of city wall patents.

The wall layout can prevent competitors from invading their technological territory, and does not give competitors any space for circumvention design and alternative solutions.

When there are several different technical solutions around a technical topic, each of which can achieve similar functions and effects, this layout pattern can be used to form a wall to prevent competitors from having any gaps to avoid.

For example, if A product can be manufactured by method A, method B, method C, etc., must be considered to manufacture the same product. Specific examples are that an active substance is extracted from microbial fermentation solution, and the active substance must be obtained by chemical total synthesis, extraction from natural substances, semi-synthesis or structural modification. Then apply for a patent one by one for these methods, which is the wall layout.


3. Carpet layout

Blanket layout refers to the layout pattern of a blanket patent network in which all technical solutions to achieve a certain technical goal are patented.

This is a "err on the side of a thousand, do not miss one" layout pattern. With this layout, through sufficient patent mining, a large number of patents can often be obtained, and a solid patent network can be formed around a certain technical topic, so that it can effectively protect its own technology and prevent competitors from entering. Once competitors enter, they can also drive them out of their protected areas through patent litigation and other means. However, the disadvantage of this layout mode is that it requires a lot of capital and the cooperation of research and development manpower, the investment cost is high, and in the absence of a systematic layout strategy, it is easy to evolve into a patent and patent, and it is easy to appear that patents are overflowing but can not play the expected effect.

This patent layout mode is more suitable for companies that have strong R&D strength in a certain technology field, have R&D results in various research and development directions, and expect to quickly compete with technology leaders in the patent network strategy, and is also suitable for electronic or semiconductor industries with more patent output, but less suitable for pharmaceutical, biological or chemical industries.

For example, IBM's patent layout model is a typical representative of the carpet layout, IBM in any ICT technology category, the number and quality of patent applications are among the best, relying on a large number of patents each year to obtain rich license transfer income, without the need to plunder, initiate litigation. IBM has been called a "value-creating artist."


4. Jungle patent layout

The jungle patent layout is also called the icing type, which follows the basic patent like the icing, just like the jungle around the tree is around the basic patent, and can not come in or go out. This layout can be divided into two situations: First, the basic patent is in the hands of the competitor, then you can apply for a large number of peripheral patents for the patented technology, with multiple peripheral patents to surround the competitor's basic patents, like bushes around a tree. In this way, the basic patents of competitors can be effectively prevented from expanding in all directions, thus greatly weakening the value of the basic patents of competitors. If necessary, it can also cross-license a competitor's patent in exchange for licensing the competitor's underlying patent. Second, when the basic patent is in our hands, we should not forget to arrange the jungle patent around our basic patent first, protect our basic patent closely, and do not give the opponent the opportunity to implement this patent layout.

In fact, there is no fixed format and rules for patent layout, and the basic principle is to make reasonable planning according to the patent status of the entire market, its own patent status, including financial resources, manpower and related factors. The various patent layouts mentioned above do not include all types, and it is not possible to do so, and various combinations or variations can be made between various basic patent layouts to form a patent protection network. The high quality patent protection network should have the characteristics of tight, layered and superior performance and price ratio. The so-called strict is impenetrable, do not give the opponent the opportunity to take advantage of, this is not to say that the more patents, the more strict, the more important is the grasp of quality, for the direction of technology research and development. Otherwise, there may be a lot of patents, but most of them belong to junk patents, like a group of straggling soldiers, instant collapse, it will not be able to protect or contain the role; The so-called hierarchical sense is to have a strategic depth, the formation of a multi-level protective network, rich depth, is three-dimensional rather than flat, the need to effectively combine various patent layout strategies; In fact, the superior performance price ratio is very able to reflect the wisdom, that is, to maximize the benefit of the same cost and input output, which is undoubtedly a very test of people's wisdom. An excellent protective network should have two functions, one is to protect its own patented or non-patented technology from infringement, and the other is to be able to become the basis for attacking competitors. The better the net is made, the more useful it will be.


The phenomenon of patent layout
Phenomenon 1: Foxconn has applied for more than 8,000 patents on $2 connectors. The connector produced by Foxconn is a very small part, of course, it is also a more core part, the price is not high but the profit is not small. It is this small connector, Foxconn has invested a lot of manpower and financial resources, carried out extremely in-depth research and development and mining and carried out a large number of fruitful patent applications, has obtained more than 8,000 patents, forming an impenetrable patent protection network in the field of technology, so the patent layout, competitors want to penetrate or enter or avoid is simply an impossible thing to complete. The implication of this case is that for the core technology of the enterprise, its protection should be not tired of its thick.


Phenomenon 2: Because a company has built a complete patent layout network and formed a stable patent pool, although several patents are invalid by its opponents, although some individual patents may be judged invalid, it does not pose any harm or threat to its overall patent protection network, so it can effectively resist the attacks of its opponents and ensure the normal business operation and product production of the company.


Phenomenon 3: The timely application of patents for graphical user interface technology by a US company in 1979 is an example of the use of patent applications as technology reserves. The company's technology would later form the basis of Apple's Macintosh and Apple windows personal computer operating systems, which is why the patent strategy is so significant. Layout in advance with a forward-looking vision will often receive unexpected profits.


In 2008, at the Hannover Exhibition in Germany, a large number of Chinese electronics manufacturers were involved in civil lawsuits and even faced criminal proceedings due to suspected infringement, largely because Chinese manufacturers did not pay attention to patent layout, and at the same time knew nothing about the patent layout of competitors, blindly entering a certain market.