Why every entrepreneur needs an innovation plan

Startup companies differ from traditional businesses in two characteristics:

  1. They aim at developing a viable business model around an innovative product or service, oftentimes to disrupt traditional markets.
  2. They seek rapid growth, sometimes with the aim of selling the company after a few years.

In the early stages, a startup typically does not own significant “real” business assets, such as production machinery, raw materials or inventories.

Instead, the value of a typical startup is almost entirely based on its innovation potential, which is embodied in “soft” assets such as know-how, technology concepts, or branding.

Without proper management and protection, these intangible assets cannot be owned and controlled“Thoughts are free”. Continue reading Why every entrepreneur needs an innovation plan

How to get your software patent allowed in Europe

Does the European Patent Office grant a software patent application?

The short answer is: Yes, but it depends on what the software actually does.

On the other hand, “is software patentable?” is really the wrong question. Patents are granted for inventions, and it’s only a secondary question how the invention is embodied (in software, in an integrated circuit, with bolts and rivets, …).

But what is a patentable invention then? Continue reading How to get your software patent allowed in Europe

Was Investoren hören wollen: Lean Startups brauchen eine leane Patentstrategie

Ich bin Patentanwalt. Und ich war frustriert.

Viele Unternehmer in der Gründungsphase ihrer Startups konnten meine Beratung nicht umsetzen, weil das Budget die hohen Patentkosten nicht hergab. Als die Investoren dann vor dem Abschluss der Seed- bzw. Series-A-Runde eine Patentstrategie verlangten, kamen viele der Gründer wieder zu mir. Aber es war zu spät für Patentschutz.

Das Dilemma: Patente kosten Geld (viel Geld), müssen aber angemeldet werden, bevor das was geschützt werden soll veröffentlicht wird. Alles Wissen, das der Öffentlichkeit bekannt ist, kann später nicht mehr patentiert werden — auch die eigene Veröffentlichung auf der Webseite, die Messepräsentation oder das Verteilen des MVP an die ersten Tester.

Wie gesagt, ich war frustriert. Bis ich die Lösung fand. Continue reading Was Investoren hören wollen: Lean Startups brauchen eine leane Patentstrategie

Caching security information of a smart card: technical but obvious

This examination appeal concerns a system for caching information retrieved from a hardware security token, i.e. a smart card or any other tamper-resistant hardware device used to store digital credentials, cryptographic keys or the like. Since it was not even questioned that this is technical subject-matter, the decision is quite straight-forward and “only” deals with inventive step. Continue reading Caching security information of a smart card: technical but obvious

Startup patents: The second worst reason why startups should file patents

As we’ve talked about the #1 bad reason why startups should file patents, let’s take a look at the second worst reason:

“Startups should file patents because they can create licensing revenue”

Continue reading Startup patents: The second worst reason why startups should file patents

The #1 BAD REASON why startups should file patents

I’m just preparing some presentation slides for a talk I will be giving tomorrow at the Center for Digital Technology and Management, a joint institution of the two universities we have here in Munich. The topic of my lecture will be “IP strategies for startups” — and a large part will be about patents, obviously.

And here’s one of the key messages of my lecture: Continue reading The #1 BAD REASON why startups should file patents

Programming, modelling, and new programming languages are hardly patentable

As in the previous decision, also this decision is rather bad news for software developers who intend to protect their creations with software patents.

Some key takeaway messages:

  • Neither modelling nor programming is, by itself, a technical undertaking
  • Modifications to a programming language that enable the programmer to develop a program with greater ease, speed or accuracy, do not make a technical contribution to the art
  • Even if the technical purpose of a simulation method is “adequately defined” and the claim is limited to that purpose, it is questionable whether this makes a technical contribution to the art

Continue reading Programming, modelling, and new programming languages are hardly patentable