95% of Patents End Up Having No Value, Are Patents Worthless?
It is known that not all patents make enough money to maintain their protection, actually the numbers show that the majority of them end up making less. This makes some people question the patent concept and say that patents are worthless? Are they?
Consider the following scenario to understand the difference between a strong and weak patent. Company A develops a system for autopilot in cars. They describe in detail how the sensors pick up information, perform the adjustments and make the car drive by itself. A patent like this that describes a specific technical solution is called a weak one and it’s destined to not make enough money. Smart competitors will explore the concept of self-drive and manage to create new autopilot systems without infringing this patent. Meanwhile company B develops a method for unlocking a smartphone using the facial recognition. They patent the concept of capturing they users face after moving the phone in a certain way that indicates the user’s desire to unlock it. If the company had described the sensor used, the type of motion or other specific technical data, probably other companies would have found a way to create a similar system without infringing this patent. This is what ultimately makes the second patent a strong one, being more conceptual in nature and less technical. Note that few of the screen unlock patents either via facial recognition or touch gesture are owned by Apple and proven to be quite worthy.
As a conclusion we can say that patents are important as they safeguard your invention promoting innovation. Going with the conceptual approach is where many companies fail and this is what ultimately makes a great number of patents to not be worthy. Patent law allows broad conceptual patents and a good patent strategist will advise to go in this direction rather than making the typical narrow patents that cannot block most of the competition.