Patent creation and exploitation is an evolutionary process. Over time, the recognized uses of a patent will change. To provide options for additional patent coverage, it may be desirable to keep an application pending so that its description can be enlarged and its coverage expanded as new opportunities are recognized. This strategy does not prevent the company from immediately obtaining patent protection on the subject matter that is initially described. The decision to keep an application pending derives from the foresight gained through regular reassessment of an intellectual asset strategy in light of current market indicators and overall business strategy.
A further consideration is geographic market. While patents are available nearly everywhere in the world, they will generally only be valuable in strategic markets. These markets should be identified early so that protection may be applied for within the deadlines imposed by each jurisdiction.
The right to obtain patent protection is lost if the knowledge to be patented is allowed to escape unprotected to the public. The circumstances under which knowledge becomes public vary by jurisdiction. As a general matter the US and Canada allow knowledge to be public for one year before a patent application is filed. The rest of the world generally requires the application to be filed before any public disclosure. Thus an integral part of patent strategy is maintaining control over information, through secrecy and nondisclosure agreements, so the desired rights remain available.
The ability to recover damages for patent infringement is predicated on the infringing party having had notice of the existence of the patent. This is accomplished by marking products with a notice that includes the numbers of applicable patents. Thus marking is an essential component of protection that requires attention during the life of the patent.