Patents: Cure for Insomnia or the Sword of Corporate Strategy?

Patents: Cure for Insomnia or the Sword of Corporate Strategy?Patents.  The one word that, if used on a hot date, is most likely to shortly be followed with “Check please!”.  But it doesn’t have to be that way, really.

If you’re a start-up or established company looking to create value, sooner or later you’ll have to talk about patents.  Let me explain by way of an analogy:

Let’s assume there are two innovative coffee flavour inventors.  We’ll call them Alice and Bob.  Alice is your archetypal tree-hugging free spirit who invests time and passion in her pursuit of luscious flavours to tempt coffee shops into using her products.  Bob is similarly an inventive person, your Heston Blumenthal of coffee.  But Bob knows a bit about Patents and value.

One day, both Bob and Alice come up with a flavour based on snail porridge.  It’s sure to be a winner, and Bob files a patent on the recipe.  Alice dances round Yew trees in celebration of the increased revenue her company will earn.

One of their larger customer, let’s call them Skubrats Inc, is particularly interested in using this new flavour, but worries about their competition getting hold of a similar product.  Simply buying up Bob’s company would not provide the security they need because Alice could provide the competition with her similarly-tasting product.  But Bob mentions he has patented the recipe!  Now when Skubrats buys Bob’s products (or indeed, his company), they could also get hold of the exclusive right to sell Snail Porridge Coffee.  Alice retreats to the forest and is last heard of selling blueberry muffins at 20 cents a shot.

OK, it’s a little stretched, but my point is this: CounterPath has spent a large amount of time and investment in the patent process for its products and idea.  We’re not particularly interested in the prosecution of these patents in an aggressive manner.  We do this so that when we talk to customers, they can be sure that when they deploy CounterPath products, they can be confident of a market and revenue lead on their competition.  It also means that our customers can see that we are serious about the value of what we offer.  We also lodge patents to ensure CounterPath has intrinsic corporate value – we want our investors to feel comfortable that they are supporting a company that has their interests foremost in its activities.

Over the past year or so, we have received numerous patent grants – most notably in the emerging space of Convergence and Mobile Identity.  In 2010 we received the rights one of the most important patents in our portfolio – FMC, or fixed mobile convergence.  It’s a critical part of our strategy to enable users to fully utilise the mobile environment alongside the familiar desktop space.  We’re all used to being able to make calls from multiple devices, but being reached on those devices using a single number has proven difficult.  Until now.  The FMC patent underpins the way in which calls that start on one network, can be completed on another – completely transparently and controlled by the wireless operator.

Later in the year, we strengthened the approach by being awarded a further patent that links those devices to a single identity – this is important because setting up complex forwarding rules to different locations such as home, office, mobile and other devices has not proven attractive to users.
This patent design gives end users the flexibility to choose between devices based on their needs, preferences and their current location, while maintaining the same phone ID so that other users and services can easily reach them.  Users are able to move calls and messaging applications to the mobile network only when needed, thus reducing overall mobile spend.

Soon after this we cemented the trio with a patent for Presence Detection Across Fixed and Mobile Networks – essentially, this allows the calls to be routed to users based on “where they are and what they’re doing”.  When you link this to users’ social network usage and apps that ferry that information around networks, you can see that CounterPath are fully committed to providing  the most comprehensive, inclusive means of communicating in all the different ways available to us today.  By deploying CounterPath solutions, customer can be sure of a seamless and professional approach to users communication needs.

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Michael Doyle

About Michael Doyle

Michael Doyle is the Vice President of Technology at CounterPath and is responsible for patents and exploiting Intellectual Property. He has served on corporate Intellectual Property committees, co-authored several patent applications and was previously CTO and co-founder at Ubiquity Software Corporation which was acquired by Avaya Inc. for $145M.

View all posts by Michael Doyle

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