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Patent strategy for value-driven IP portfolio development


Perception Partners was contacted by an advisor to a consumer electronics startup. The startup had created circuit-level improvements to an internet-of-things sensor, which it proposed to protect via patenting the circuit design, chip packaging and manufacturing methods. The startup was trying to use a limited IP budget wisely.

A patent thicket in the IP landscape. We created an IP landscape of key players in the technology area and reviewed it during a workshop with founders and advisors. A key finding was that the area was very research- and IP-intensive. Just a few circuit-level patents - especially in manufacturing methods - could make it difficult for the startup (or any acquirer) to detect infringers and enforce the IP in the future.

Recommendation - protect the device, not just the chip. By analyzing the IP landscape in a value chain context (from suppliers to manufacturers to users to aftermarket) we demonstrated that the most valuable protection options for a small patent portfolio were actually closer to the customer: patenting improved mobile devices and services powered by the novel chip design. Patents covering complete mobile devices were shown to be easier to enforce, license and sell.

Better positioning for a higher valuation. By collaborating with the executive team, we were able to suggest a patent strategy that better utilized the startup’s foundational legal budget. The leadership team was able to improve their IP value story and justify a higher valuation during their next round of funding. The advisor who referred us has also provided many referrals since.