What Does Defensive Patent Mean?
A defensive patent is a patent that is used with the primary intention of defending a company against patent infringement lawsuits. This differs from more aggressive uses for patents, which can include generating royalties or preventing competition through legal action. A defensive patent can protect a patent holder by allowing it to countersue after a competitor sues for infringement - or even if the competitor sues for some other reason. A large collections of patents can also protect a company by deterring lawsuits altogether.
Techopedia Explains Defensive Patent
Many tech companies use defensive patents as ammunition in infringement lawsuits. This strategy involves stockpiling a large number of patents to use as protection, in the event that a company is sued by a competitor. The use of patents as a defensive mechanism can involve several strategies, but essentially, they act as bargaining chips for case settlements. This may include:
- A company being sued can use its own arsenal of patents to force a quick settlement
- A company being sued can countersue with patents from its own collection
- A portion of a company's patent portfolio can be licensed as a form of settlement.
Some point to Google's 2011 acquisition of Motorola Mobility as an example of patents being used in a defensive manner.
Weaponizing of patents is a term that describes when a company uses patents in a more agressive manner.