Today’s business landscape is dynamic and competitive. Innovations are happening in every aspect of business, including in how people protect their innovations.

Every business needs to protect their intellectual property (IP)—proprietary creative works, inventions and methods. One way that businesses can accomplish this is through a method called defensive publishing.

What is defensive publishing?

Defensive publishing is a tactic that involves publishing all or a part of your IP to the public. Though it is a bit counter-intuitive, this can help you protect your IP.

When your product, device or method enters the public domain, it becomes “prior art.” This prevents others from claiming a patent on it.

Why use defensive publishing?

There are a few reasons that companies are relying on defensive publishing to protect their intellectual property. These include increased protections and cost effectiveness.

Protects against incremental improvements

A patented technology is still subject to incremental improvements. Though a business may have a registered patent, a competitor could potentially discover an incremental improvement to the technology. The competitor could then file a separate patent for that improvement.

Defensive publications prevent patents for both the initial design and any incremental improvements.

Cost effective

On average, companies in the U.S. spend between $12,000 to $15,000 on a single patent application. Because of this high cost, it can be unwise to file a patent for each intellectual property and subsequent improvement.

Furthermore, if a competitor files for a patent, a business could be subject to even greater costs down the road—E.g. litigation, product redesign, and lost time to market.

One piece of the puzzle

Because of these two factors, defensive publishing is attractive for businesses of all sizes. However, defensive publishing is just one of many methods to protect IP.

Working with an experienced IP attorney can help you create a robust IP strategy that is tailored to your business.