Whatever the technological area, the patent system plays at least a double role of relevance for business strategies: on the one hand it provides valuable information about the available state of the art (whether for free use due to the expiration of the term or lack of protection in certain territory, whether for collaborative licensing); on the other hand, it provides a relevant (and often vital) tool for appropriating developed technologies, involving a stimulus for investment in research, development and innovation.

It is no coincidence that one of the development indicators is based on the number of patents that a country's nationals obtain nationally and internationally.1.

On the other hand, the lack of knowledge about how the patent system and the strategies related to it actually work is still very large among small, medium-sized and even some large companies. This is because they still see the patent system as "a necessary evil" or a "necessary cost", without understanding the logic of the system based on a temporary right, limited to what was actually revealed and claimed in the specific country(ies). within the legal deadline(s), but which offers opportunities for strategic competitive intervention and greater rapprochement/collaboration between companies.

If, on the one hand, the patent system is a very rich source of technological information,2, on the other hand, this same system offers an internationally harmonized right to prevent third parties from using technology described and protected by one or more patents3.

And how does this happen in practice? Imagine company A developed a new technology for a disposable pot with better sealing, or a system involving IoT and AI that generates a warning for approaching vehicles in the rear view mirror, or any other commercially interesting technology. Now imagine that company B has greater capillarity and wants to sell products that incorporate this technology worldwide. Considering the existence of a market and demand for the product, what is the first question that company B will ask? I believe the answer will be: "is this product or technology protected by patent(s)?".

There are several success stories revealing the use of the national and international patent system as essential competitive differentiators. We can highlight the old cases of MOTOROLA, NOKIA, among others, even the most recent cases of WAZE (company and its patents sold to Google for more than US$ 1 billion), NETFLIX (has more than 1000 international patents via PCT) , between others. The fact is that ignoring the relevance of the patent system, whether for monitoring competition or for creating valuable islands of technological exclusivity, can cause serious and often insoluble problems for all sizes of companies.

It is concluded that the centuries-old (and constantly updated) patent system contributes (a lot) to the formation of the available state of the art, to the clarity of what is and is not protected, to the appropriation of technological intellectual assets, for the logic of investments in research, development and innovation, as well as for the establishment of business strategies with a real (and not illusory) competitive advantage. However, such benefits only reach those who effectively dedicate attention to the national and international patent system.


1. See data from the World Intellectual Property Organization – WIPO (WIPO) on the relationship between the number of patents and the economic development of countries. Available in www.wipo.int

2. View accessible public patent database with detailed description of the technologies contained in each patent application. These bases are, for example, www.inpi.gov.br (Brasil), www.uspto.gov (EUA), www.epo.eu (Europa), entre outras.

3. See the international legislative framework that guarantees minimum standards of patent protection at national and international levels: Industrial Property Law 9279/96, Paris Union Convention – CUP, Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights – TRIPS (TRIPS) and the Patent Cooperation Treaty – PCT.

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