Competence Network IP

Types of use

For IPRs, there are different types of use which may be pursued by the owner for different reasons. The classic use case is certainly the economic exploitation of IPRs in the form of a premium pricing policy of the company for its protected products. In this case the IPR is understood primarily as a support instrument to prevent competitors from imitating the protected product. In this context IPRs are also created with the aim of intimidation of competitors or establishing a blockage effect for competitors.

Another usage is to realize additional revenue streams through licensing the IPRs to third parties. For example, this can be useful if the company itself does not have sufficient manufacturing capacity or if the IPR owner wants to take advantage of established companies in a foreign market to gain access to this market. In this case, value extraction from protected innovations occurs through licensing revenue associated with an increased market penetration.

A special case of licensing is the so-called cross-licensing. Thereby, the aspect of generating license income is typically less important than the access to third-party technologies. Cross-licensing agreements are often designed in such a way that both parties receive access rights to the respective relevant portfolio parts of the other party. Collaborations or joint ventures are increasingly founded under a cross-license paradigm.

Strong IPR positions are often associated in the public with a high degree of innovative power or quality. Therefore, some companies also use this to improve the company's image in the public perception, which in turn ultimately promotes sales. The creation of IPRs can also play a significant role in the motivation of employees if the contributions of authors/inventors are appreciated accordingly.

However, effective use of IP also requires the right holder's willingness to possibly enforce the IPRs against infringing third parties.


IPRs are primarily negative rights, that is, rights which can be used to bar somebody else from using the protected subject matter. This negative rights character unfortunately is not well realized by many companies. Excluding the competition from using own protected creations or innovations and realizing associated profits can provide a significant development and marketing advantage. It is therefore not only of considerable momentary significance, but also can ensure future income. Unfortunately, sometimes court disputes are impossible to avoid. However, in the majority of cases the start of such a dispute paves the way for an amicable solution not achievable previously and without a need to get to a final court decision. It is always important to know about the own position and strength and to have a well thought through strategy to achieve an optimal result in case of an agreement as well as in the event of a decision by the courts. Often the actual value of an IPR has only emerged after the respective subject matter has been litigated.

Semantic mapping

Besides direct protection for own products the value of patented inventions can also be used in other ways, such as for example:

In all these cases it is essential to perform a mapping between the description of a target product or application and the patent offering. For such purpose, it is advantageous to use software programs that use semantic algorithms for mapping existing patent texts (claims, description) to the description of the target products (semantic mapping).

Evaluation of exploitability

Besides the classic exploitation of IPRs through a premium pricing strategy for own protected products/solutions IPRs can also be exploited through licensing or sale. In addition to the potential income the question of feasibility should be the focus. The evaluation of IP portfolios in this respect allows to control expenses for exploitation activities and to save such cost in case a hopeless situation is detected early in the process. Such an evaluation should include:

The result of the evaluation of exploitation options describes the expectations for licensing or selling and IP portfolio to interested thirds parties.

Exploitation process support

In the course of IPR exploitation an exploitation analysis should initially determine, whether the licensing effort for a company is really worth the effort and if the IPR quality and the maturity of the technological development are sufficient for a lucrative exploitation.

Once the right way is found, the operational exploitation starts with the active approaching of potential licensees or buyers.

Implementation of the exploitation process

For control and documentation of exploitation activities special IP exploitation software solutions can be of great advantage. On one hand, the IP portfolio must be documented as clusters and described according to the exploitation scenarios. On the other hand, the different targets for licensing should be determined and documented with the related activities so that a complete picture of all exploitation activities results. This also applies to related contractual agreements, and any references to products or research and development projects. This holistic approach is particularly suitable for large industrial companies with their own exploitation initiative as well as for technology transfer organizations.