Gaming is perhaps one of the fine examples of how boundaries blur between developing end customer value and protecting IP.
Let’s say your software company developed a radical new rendering engine that can allow pixel perfect resolution and provide a gamer the ability to ‘simulate’ Hi Definition video. However, what you manged to do was that you did this without the need for specialized hardware. So what do you exactly patent and protect. The code, its functionality or its business value?
What you have done would not take any of the software giants much time to achieve. So forget the delicious incentive of your technology buyout. It’s only a matter of time before they hit bullseye. Functionally speaking, your code will do wonders to game buyer. But how do you build a demand for this functionality when you are not interacting with the customer? Finally the business value will be perceived by the customer buying the engine – a gaming company. Will owing copyright to this engine enhance your technology’s value?
What do you protect?
Perhaps you should consider protecting an aspect that you can control and that could fetch you better licensing returns. After all the idea behind patenting my technology is more to do with it’s licensing than the fact that my name gets published somewhere! But how do you know today what you could license tomorrow?
A major challenge for your business is the evaluation of ‘white spaces’ in the patent landscape and ensuring that infringing has already not happened. You don’t want to end up 3 years developing code along an algorithm and realize at the end of it that your patent has not been granted only because someone earlier had thought of something similar. More than that – you would want to make sure your investment remains strong through the gestation of your technology.
One of first steps to solving this is through efficient Patent Searching. By identifying key players and the technology spaces already occupied, you and your investors can get key insight into where exactly your code can make an impact. In fact intelligent analysis of this search can estimate what the Patent Landscape would look like in the future. You could also look at a potential buyout of a semi finished technology that would set the stage for your rendering engine.