Managing intellectual property in a manner that achieves its full value is a priority for companies of all types and sizes. Rather than viewing defensive publications as strictly an alternative to patenting, it should be seen as an efficient complement to be utilized in combination with patenting. The development of minor improvements on major inventions presents an attractive situation for combining strategic disclosure with traditional patent protection. Publishing information about a minor improvement will create prior art and prevent competitors from obtaining a patent.By publishing incremental innovations to core patents, a firm can achieve the initialpatent protection necessary to create a market advantage, and then protect that advantage through publication without enduring the costs of patenting small improvements. The major invention will be protected under patent, while the subsequent publications will protect the core patent by preventing others from patenting an improvement. Adopting this strategy avoids the prohibitive costs of blanket-patenting, and maximizes the value of intellectual property assets for companies both large and small.
Todd E. Rinner, Protecting Minor Improvements on Core Patents: Complementing Traditional Patent Protection with Strategic Disclosure, 2 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 398 (2003)