IP audits, cost savings and the role of inside counsel (Dow Chemical)

For 12 months starting in 1992, a team of nine Dow Chemical employees analyzed each of the company’s 30,000 patents. The team, which almost certainly included a patent lawyer, determined “whether the technology was being practiced and whether it had potential business use.” By the end, from abandoning certain patents, Dow saved $40 million (Corp. Legal Times, Vol. 15, Nov. 2005 at 27).

Every company that owns a non-trivial portfolio of patents should every few years go through a pruning exercise. Alternatively, scrutinize some portion of the portfolio every year. Doing so combines the talents of different people – law, business, economics, and technology – but drops dollars to the bottom line.

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