How do I know whether my work should be protected by patenting? How does my company use a patent on my work?
Think of product development as a race between you and your competitors. In this context, how will you win the prize? In other words, if there are equally able-bodied competitors in the race, who will win the customer?
A number of ways exists that help support a win, such as strong branding and better financing, among others. However, in the technology competition context, you should strive to add functionality that none of your competitors has and cannot develop anytime soon.
Your success depends upon your ability to identify the technical problems facing consumers of your technology, address these problems with creative or cutting-edge solutions, and then vigorously protect these innovations. It is critical that you seek patents directed to protecting these innovations vis-à-vis competitors and other non-competitor patent aggressors.
To execute on this, factor the identify-innovate-protect paradigm into your product development process. Develop a milestone such as “Pre-announce Patent Review” and set it at a point in time that gives you and your patent counsel sufficient time to collect information about your innovations, and then prepare your patent applications prior to disclosing your product to the public. In short, look for “technical solutions to technical problems” and patent these.