“Grown ups” use patents to their strategic advantage.
Intellectual property can be a very strategic asset for smaller companies – when done well.
Oshkosh has been bidding on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) contract from the US government. This will replace the HMMWV (“Humvee”) vehicles currently being used by our ground forces. Oshkosh won the first round of the contract, but needed to survive the second round.
While Oshkosh is not a small company, it was competing against much larger competitors. They were up against General Motor’s defense unit, AM General, and Navistar – all of which are larger competitors.
Oshkosh was able to build out a patent portfolio that captured many of its strategically important design features. This patent portfolio, including design patents and utility patents, gives the company leverage in any future contract.
The key to Oshkosh’s patent portfolio for the JLTV is that Oshkosh will be able to profit from their innovations, even if they lose the major contract. Oshkosh is in the position where their innovations are now part of the military’s specification for the next generation vehicles. So any winner of the contract will have to license Oshkosh’s innovations going forward.