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Defensive Patent

Definition - 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.

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