Defensive Patent License: Is it the Answer for Innovators?

By: Shanza Anwaar

For an inventor or technical innovator, more sleepless nights are spent over how to protect what could be your very own goldmine than any other issue.

According to Politico, tech companies continue to “occupy top of the patent heap.” If giants like Apple and Samsung, Google and Microsoft, are engaged in long standing “patent wars”; how do technology innovators working out of their garages and basements go about protecting something that may have great potential?

(If you are a tech innovator dealing with this dilemma, February’s 6th seminar “Intellectual Property – Protecting Your Invention” offered by the Altitude Accelerator, would be a great place to start learning about traditional and alternative approaches to protecting your idea!)

Because of this volatile patent market, new ‘preventative’ approaches are surfacing to address the issues faced by technology companies. One such preventive action is the Defensive Patent License (DPL).  The DPL is a membership of innovators, startups and companies holding patents that need protection from costly patent trolls (companies that exist primarily to sue and collect on patent related lawsuits).   To be a part of the DPL network, tech innovators have to  offer all of their inventions “royalty-free to anyone who wants to take a license, if they commit to only practice defensive patent licensing,” according to Berkeley Law professor Jason Schultz, one of the minds behind the DPL project.

So what are the pros and cons of this initiative?


  • You can freely use patented technology of other DPL innovators without the risk of fees and/or costly lawsuits
  • Protection is offered against “patent trolls”
  • Small companies can capitalize on the larger “pool” of IP and produce better inventions on what’s already available.


  • Being a member of the DPL means you must commit all your patents, not some of them – hindering big companies from joining.
  • The success of the DPL system is dependent on who joins the network.

Since DPL was launched very recently (last year), it is still unclear whether it will be a successful initiative in the long run.

Shanza is a Social Media Intern at Altitude Accelerator.  Pursuing two undergraduate majors in anthropology and professional writing at the University of Toronto Mississauga, Shanza is also a co-editor and content writer at the Digital Enterprise Management Society.  She hopes to make her mark as a Social Media Consultant.  

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal and professional experiences. Visit Altitude Accelerator for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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