Intellectual Property disputes have been at the forefront of the aftermarket office supplies industry for more than 30-years!
With the mixed blessing of a first-hand experience of seven years of hostile, defensive litigation in the ink and toner supplies industry, there are few in the industry with such an extensive depth of knowledge in the patent-intensive and litigious office products and equipment industry. With so many margin dollars at stake supporting the OEMs other loss-making activities, there is no room for the industry to ignore third-party intellectual property. At Executive & Strategic Solutions, we have a set of unique insights that can help navigate resellers through the IP minefield, thereby reducing risk and improving future business prospects.
Patents & Trademarks
It was estimated that in 2012 over two million patents were in force in the United States alone. In 2014, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, an additional 200,000 patent applications and nearly 50,000 trademark applications were filed for around the globe. Filing patent applications and paying the maintenance fees once they are issued is expensive, and businesses and individuals that go to the time and expense to do this should be expected to defend their intellectual property. It’s prudent for enterprises to take responsibility for ensuring they’re not infringing intellectual property rights of third parties and thereby exposed to the risk of expensive litigation.
The Competitive Threat
As small and medium-size business enterprises increasingly understand and take advantage of the game-changing potential of the internet and e-commerce, large established companies that own the bulk of the patent and trademark intellectual property are likely to come under increasing competitive pressure from these smaller, more flexible, enterprises. As the large companies recognize the competitive threat, they will pull out all the stops to defend their territory including patent and trademark litigation.
Too Small for Litigation?
The costs associated with intellectual property disputes are high. Remember, for a large business they can be covered as part of the costs of doing business, but for a small business they can be the difference between survival and liquidation. Furthermore, small businesses should not make the mistake of thinking they are too small to be noticed and will stay under the radar and avoid litigation. The biggest threat to large established organizations is the cumulative threat of many small businesses leveraging technology and the internet to chip away at their customer base. In order to extinguish this threat, large organizations will deploy litigation strategies to deal with small enterprises if they believe their intellectual property rights are being ignored.
Small and Medium Business Enterprises
Office Products resellers know the industry has a long track record of expensive and damaging litigation. It’s not likely this threat is going to go away and may even increase as large slow-moving enterprises, looking to protect existing sales and profits, use their intellectual property as a tactic to thwart competition. Resellers of office products and supplies need to make sure their house is in order and exposure to potentially ruinous litigation is minimized.