Defensive patent acquisition
- Not to be confused with Defensive patent pools.
Defensive patent acquisition is applying for or buying patents so that you can retaliate with counter-threats if you are attacked by a patent holder. These patents are thus not serving any purpose and are costing businesses a lot of money. A 1999 study in Japan found that 80.5% of patent applications were for defensive purposes. If a company wishes to acquire defensive patents based on the work of its employees, the latter should ask for a non-aggression promise to employees.
Limitations to effectiveness
- Doesn't work at all against patent trolls.
- Can lead to an "arms race" which can only be won if you have a similar sized patent portfolio as your opponent.
- When the owner has financial problems, the patents are sometimes sold to aggressive patent litigators (The Rockstar situation is based on Nortel's "defensive" patents)
Arms race - a useless expense
The comparison to an expensive arms race has been has been raised by many, including in the case Aerotel v. Telco (2006, UK):
An arms race in which the weapons are patents has set in. The race has naturally spread worldwide[...]
Attracts patent risk
According to the paper Patent Litigation Risk Characterization, the acquisition of certain types of patents increases the probability that you will be targeted by a patent suit.
Related pages on ESP Wiki
- Duds and non-solutions
- Defensive patent pools
- Patent non-aggression pacts - The non-action that an expensive portfolio of patents can buy
- Patent owners against software patents
- non-aggression promise to employees
- Red Hat begins applying for defensive patents, March 16th 2009