Patent owners can gain an advantage in any industry and those who do not own a patent for their work can be at a serious disadvantage, the online gaming industry is no exception to this. Companies need to protect themselves and their intellectual property from others for there to be a chance of navigating the industry successfully without being exploited.
The US grants patents for software, business methods and internet technology much more willingly than a lot of other countries which is why it is an attractive country for those in the online gaming world to procure patents from, and is becoming increasingly popular. Many are now taking advantage of the readiness of the US in granting such patents and are learning to use them creatively, of course they are intended to protect ones intellectual property but patents can be used in a multitude of ways, to protect a company’s place in the industry, as a platform to expand the company portfolio and even as a tool to earn extra revenue.
In the US there are two types of patent, those designed for utility and those for design. Both are useful investments in the iGaming industry, as protecting the aesthetics of your content and the functionality behind the game keeps your inventions safe from ‘recycling’ by other companies, obviously a very serious matter. If however, your patent rights are infringed upon and your ideas or product are used without your consent, you may bring a case to court and upon the claim being found a sound appeal, could be entitled to receive monetary damage relief or royalties from the product (if it is allowed to remain operational) even if the responsible party was not aware that a patent was in force at the time. But remember that this applies vice versa!
Protecting a company’s place in the industry is always difficult and an ongoing battle, however patents can be used as both a sword and a shield on the battle field. Using a patent as a way to clear the path and thrust right into the heart of the industry is the surest way to get there fast and get noticed, patenting new things or acquiring and combining existing patents is one of the most useful tools around in helping you get to where you want to be in the market. New things sell, new things get noticed. Patents can also be used as a shield to protect the place that the technology you created earned you, as well as using patents to monopolize sectors and shield your inventions from competitors.
Patents can be advantageous in other ways as well; using your patent portfolio can boost your company’s overall valuation and attractiveness to potential partners and investors. The patents you have can be as desirable to another company as their patents are to you; using patents to your best advantage can get you far in the US. Patents can also provide extra revenue should you license others to use you patented technology, or by selling ones you no longer require.
As I said, other peoples patents may have an appeal to you, there are a number of ways in which you can go about acquiring an existing US patent, you can purchase one for example, from a third party (the inventor or assignee) or in an auction. Patents ownership can also be transferred when purchasing or merging with another entity who owns their own patents. This way companies can share and combine their patents, knowledge and resources to achieve greater success together than they would alone and reaping the benefits of multiple patents. This means that if you were to merge with another patent owning company, you could combine your software, user interfaces, and business models to create a stronger, more versatile iGaming company.
To patent something entirely new and original however, is a different process entirely and one that requires much time, consideration and dedication, filing and processing new US patent application can take three years or more and involves detailed plans, descriptions and drawings and in some circumstances, a public disclosure. Very few other countries employ this public policy but it is designed to spread knowledge and inspiration through the sharing of ideas and know how. During the process of gaining a patent and even after procuring a patent, caution must be employed to avoid infringing upon anyone else’s patent resulting in heavy financial penalties, and advice should be sought from professionals before finalizing any decisions.
Obviously US patents, indeed patents worldwide are something that should be seriously considered and factored into business plans, especially for new and developing industries like the iGaming industry and for businesses within, large or small.