By Lindsey Gilroy and Tammy D'Amato of Patent Board™
The products around us are getting smarter every day. Gone are the days when an individual product served a single function and could be protected with a single patent. Want a cell phone
that is also a video camera, a compass, a flashlight and a music store? Don't forget a GPS device and a web browser
and you've got the iPhone. As products grow more complex, they integrate increasingly diverse components. Those
components themselves evolved from the development of multiple and varying technologies. Rooftop solar panels
may be one component on the total product that is the Prius hybrid car, but the technologies behind photovoltaic
cells range from the refinement of industrial materials to substrate chemicals, from semiconductor manufacturing
to information technology and electronic components. Each technology area is built up by a myriad of patented
innovations. Even within a single company, there are many patents protecting each innovation.
Most products are protected by a multitude of patents that can be grouped into portfolios at
the product, component or technology level. All too often Intellectual Property managers focus on the value of
a single breakthrough patent, but this outlook is as outdated as the idea that a phone is...