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How is Marketing like Patenting?

On the surface, marketing is not at all like patenting. A patent is a technical document that defines an invention. Marketing, on the other hand, is designed to be lively and to point out the great features of a product. How can they possibly have anything in common?

Well, I tell my patent clients that I like to use marketing language in their patent applications. I do this precisely because marketing people zero in on those aspects of a product that make it special. These aspects may not be technical but they often highlight why technical decisions were made.

Recently, I heard a talk by Hillel Fuld, a tech marketer. Hillel spoke about two important elements to marketing, both of which match how I describe patent applications.

Hillel told of the need to find the “pain point” that the product came to solve. What problem is fixed by the product? Hillel also told of the need to have a story for the product. A product is not just a technical device – there is a story of where it came from and why it should be an integral part of your life.

Similarly, patent applications should tell a story: the story of what itch the inventor couldn’t leave alone until he solved it and what aspects of the invention solves that itch. It is not enough to give the dry technical details of how to build the invention. You have to motivate the invention and then provide its solution – in Hillel’s terms, you need to tell how the invention solves the inventor’s pain point.

Both patent applications and marketing materials zoom in on the “neat” aspects of what they are describing.

Hillel talked about finding the “home run” for the product – the description of the product that “covered all bases” or that described the real essence of the product. Patent attorneys do the same thing for inventions – we zero in on the aspects of the product that truly define its “inventiveness”.

There are many ways to market a product. Similarly, there are many ways to define the inventiveness of a product. Both marketing people and patent attorneys need to become adept at finding different ways of looking at the product they are describing, so as to find the best way to define what makes it special or inventive.

The ability to see the essence of something and then to tell this to the world through a story is a critical skill shared by the best marketers and patent attorneys.

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