[Osia-discuss] Re: [Linux-aus] Re: Hooks to the AU patent process

Andrew Cowie andrew at operationaldynamics.com
Fri Aug 27 09:28:21 UTC 2004

On Fri, 2004-08-06 at 12:08 +1000, Con Zymaris wrote:
> Owning patents without an effective legal offensive capability is pretty
> close to useless. 

A colleague of mine is VP R&D at a fairly major chemicals company in
North America; a fairly major component of their annual revenue is
royalties earned from licencing patents on research they do.

He mentioned to me a few months ago that the cost of defending a patent
was between $150,000 and $2 million over its ~20 year life - and the
corollary that if you didn't defend it what was the point?

As he was describing it, he and his firm didn't look at it as a "need to
go on the offensive" issue but rather part filing costs (both fees and
time of staff), cost of the staff necessary to market the technologies
and handle relationships with licencee customers, and finally direct
legal costs in both monitoring and, when necessary, enforcement.

In his world, ability to prevent others from preventing use was pretty
easy to establish through the prior art mechanism (ie, get it
published), so they only patented when they felt that they could
generate an appropriate revenue stream (which, admittedly, was still
pretty often - impressive display of the earned patents on the wall
honouring the researchers who had made the discoveries).

Easy to overlook the cost of people's time, but still the direct expense
is pretty staggering.


Andrew Frederick Cowie

Operations Consultants and Infrastructure Engineers

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