Defensive Patent

Definition of Defensive Patent

A defensive patent refers to a patent that a company or individual obtains primarily to protect their own invention from potential infringement lawsuits. The purpose of this patent is to reduce the risk of litigation from competitors by ensuring that the patented technology cannot be used against the patent holder. In essence, it serves as a shield rather than a weapon in the competitive world of technology and innovation.


The phonetic representation of the keyword ‘Defensive Patent’ in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is:/dɪˈfɛnsɪv ˈpeɪtənt/

Key Takeaways

  1. Defensive patents are a strategy utilized by companies to protect their intellectual property by securing patents for key inventions and innovations, making it difficult for competitors to use those inventions without the risk of legal action.
  2. By acquiring a defensive patent portfolio, a company can deter potential patent litigation, facilitate cross-licensing agreements, and engage in more efficient and confident product development, knowing that their ideas and inventions are securely protected.
  3. Although securing a defensive patent can be time-consuming and expensive, the long-term benefits, such as providing a competitive advantage, strengthening the company’s market position, and reducing the risk of infringement lawsuits, can make the investment worthwhile.

Importance of Defensive Patent

The term “Defensive Patent” is important in the technology sector because it plays a crucial role in safeguarding companies from potential patent infringement lawsuits.

Defensive patents involve obtaining patent rights on innovations not necessarily for commercialization, but rather to strategically protect a company’s intellectual property and ensure freedom to operate in a competitive market.

By holding these patents, companies can preemptively guard their innovations and deter competitors from claiming patent rights on similar technology.

Furthermore, these patents can also serve as leverage during patent negotiations or cross-licensing deals, since owning a larger patent portfolio gives a company more bargaining power.

Overall, defensive patents reduce the risk of costly litigation, create a competitive edge, and foster a more sustainable environment for innovation and growth in the technology sector.


Defensive patents serve as essential strategic tools for companies operating in highly competitive industries, particularly those dominated by rapid technological advancements. These types of patents encompass unique, innovative inventions, processes, or technologies that a company may not necessarily intend to commercially exploit, but rather aim to utilize as a shield against potential infringement lawsuits and claims by competitors.

The primary objective of obtaining a defensive patent is to provide a bargaining chip when faced with patent litigation threats, thereby making it more difficult for rivals to assert their own patents against the company. Furthermore, defensive patents play a crucial role in fostering cross-licensing agreements within the industry and nurturing collaborative innovation by allowing companies to exchange rights to their respective patented technologies.

These agreements inherently encourage a reciprocal patent-sharing environment, minimizing the chances of infringement claims and costly legal battles. Consequently, defensive patents can reinforce a company’s overall intellectual property portfolio, while also acting as a powerful deterrent against aggressive patent litigation strategies adopted by competitors.

This ultimately enables organizations to focus on innovation, product development, and long-term growth, with reduced distractions from intellectual property disputes.

Examples of Defensive Patent

Example 1: Google’s Patent Purchase PromotionIn 2015, Google launched their Patent Purchase Promotion to reduce the likelihood of abusive patent litigation and help foster innovation. The program aimed to purchase patents from startups to prevent them from falling into the hands of potential patent trolls, who might use them aggressively in infringement claims. By acquiring these patents defensively, Google sought to protect smaller innovators from patent litigation and create a fairer playing field for technological advancements.Example 2: The LOT NetworkFounded in 2014, the License on Transfer (LOT) Network is a nonprofit organization with a defensive patent strategy. The network consists of a broad range of companies from various industries that have agreed to grant licenses to one another upon the sale or transfer of a patent to a non-practicing entity (NPE) or patent assertion entity (PAE). By doing so, the LOT Network members are better protected from patent trolls and frivolous patent litigation. Some of the notable members of the LOT Network include Tesla, Lyft, Microsoft, Google, and Daimler.Example 3: Twitter’s Innovator’s Patent AgreementIn 2012, Twitter introduced the Innovator’s Patent Agreement (IPA), a new way of granting control of patents to their inventors. Under the IPA, Twitter agreed not to use the patents from their engineers and designers for offensive litigation, except for defensive purposes or with the permission of the original inventors. This initiative was designed to minimize patent litigation, preserve inventors’ rights, and foster a more collaborative and innovative environment within the software industry.

Defensive Patent FAQ

1. What is a defensive patent?

A defensive patent is a type of patent strategy in which a company or individual obtains patents on their innovations primarily to protect them from potential lawsuits. These patents serve as a deterrent to competitors who may wish to sue for patent infringement, as they open the possibility of countersuing based on the defensive patent.

2. How does a defensive patent differ from a standard patent?

While both defensive and standard patents provide exclusive rights and protection for an innovation, a defensive patent strategy focuses specifically on preventing competitors from using the patented technology against the patent holder. A standard patent, on the other hand, is primarily meant to provide the patent holder with exclusive rights to commercially exploit the innovation.

3. Can a defensive patent be used offensively?

Although a defensive patent is primarily obtained for protection, it can be used offensively in some circumstances. For example, if another party infringes on the patent holder’s IP, they can leverage the defensive patent to sue for infringement and seek damages. However, the primary intent of a defensive patent is to offer protection and deter litigation.

4. What are some benefits of obtaining a defensive patent?

Some benefits of obtaining a defensive patent include:

  • Protection against lawsuits from competitors
  • Reduced likelihood of engaging in costly legal battles
  • Potential leverage in cross-licensing negotiations
  • Increased asset value of the company’s intellectual property

5. How can I obtain a defensive patent?

To obtain a defensive patent, you need to follow the standard patent application process. This involves creating a detailed description of your invention, along with claims that define its unique aspects, and submitting it to the appropriate patent office. The application will be examined for its novelty and usefulness before a patent is finally granted.

Related Technology Terms

  • Patent Troll
  • Non-Practicing Entity (NPE)
  • Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
  • Patent Infringement
  • Patent Portfolio Management

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