Defense is necessary and desirable. Indeed, as a basis for future activities, defense can be a valuable way to gain IP territory for future development. And there are times for any company when the majority of attention and energy must be devoted to defense. But companies should not get “stuck” at Level One, refusing to operate outside it. Instead, they should use defense pragmatically, as one of many IP-related activities.
The four best practices in defense described in this chapter—taking stock of what you own, obtaining and maintaining patents, building IP awareness, patents, and enforcing your patents defensively—can all help a company stake a claim in its own future.
Claim staking is a wise move for all kinds of companies—not only technology-oriented companies. True, intangibles-rich companies are more successful in the current environment, as noted in our Introduction. But this is partly because the managers of these companies spend the necessary time and energy creating or acquiring those intangibles, and then claiming and protecting them in order to develop them.
Any company can do this! Returning to our metaphor of the California Gold Rush, it is useful to note that James Marshall, the man credited with discovering gold in California, spotted it while on the job at Sutter’s Mill, a humble sawmill. He recognized the value of the glint of gold in the stream, and immediately reported it to his employer. The rest is history.
In a similar vein, the “sawmills” of today ...