Patently-O Bits and Bytes

  • Poor Economic Forecast and Patent Prosecution:
    • Bad: Patent value is based on potential market for patented products when the market shrinks, so does the value of the patents;
    • Bad: Patent prosecution is generally a cash-heavy endeavor, and many firms are low on cash/credit;
    • Bad: The smaller market and lack of cash may also depress research & development expenditures – potentially leading to a time-lagged depression in patent applications.
    • Good: When times are tough, folks save their scraps. Patents are one way to do that;
    • Good: Patents are something that can be more easily sold or licensed (as compared with trade secrets, for instance). Companies looking for alternative cash streams; to sell-off portions of the corporation; or to retain some value in bankruptcy may look to patent protection.
  • I spent a summer at Heller Ehrman while in law school. The firm dissolved earlier this fall. Using Patent Buddy, I graphed the number of registered patent practitioners at Heller over the past several years. Their patent department shows problems stretching back to 2007.

  • Figure 2 below shows the same information for the law firm of Akin Gump. Patent Buddy’s data comes directly from the PTO’s enrollment database. That database is usually a bit outdated because many patent attorneys are slow to update their records.