Competitive Advantage

Martensen IP identified Blue Line’s protectable assets and crafted a strategy for commercial and government marketplaces.

Martensen IP Helps Small Provider of Innovative Satellite Positioning Sensors Defend Its IP

Blue Line Engineering manufactures sensor systems that can identify extremely fine movements. Many of the ideas underlying its products, especially those related to satellite tracking, positioning, and alignment, are truly groundbreaking.

The company came to Martensen IP for assistance with defending its IP from encroachment by other companies. Blue Line had received Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the U.S. government both to write a proposal for the development of its invention and to produce a prototype. The government had then directed aerospace giants to partner with Blue Line to produce satellites and associated systems.

Identifying and Protecting the “Kernel” of an Invention

To defend Blue Line’s IP we first had to be absolutely clear about what aspects of their inventions could be protected. Too often, companies set out patent their ideas only to discover that many or even all of the elements of their invention are already patented by other organizations or that the patent does not protect the features that make the innovation valuable.

Working with the company’s founder and engineers, we were able to identify and patent a very critical piece of the technology for their digital fine steering position mirror that makes them stand out from their competitors; providing Blue Line with a competitive advantage. However, they also needed assistance with understanding and working through the many layers of bureaucracy that come with dealing with the government, as well as the long and complex purchase orders they received from large aerospace companies.

All the while, we reminded Blue Line that despite the very lopsided nature of the relationship in terms of company size, they own their IP and that it was the Government customer that directed these aerospace giants to use Blue Line technology. While there are statutes that give small companies the right to commercialize the products they develop under government grants, large government contractors sometimes write contracts that provide essential details about their technology and rights to use the technology apart from the existing relationship with the government. If the large companies are successful it becomes much easier for contractors to take the small companies out of the equation.

Leveraging our unique combination of IP expertise and insider knowledge of government and contractor IP procurement, we helped Blue Line understand the nuances of what the government calls “data rights” with respect to government entities and their subcontractors. One of those nuances is the absolute necessity of making detailed identification and assertions about IP ownership. And if you fail to mark IP as your own, you lose the rights to it. With our help, Blue Line was able to retain full control both of their IP and their relationships with other stakeholders. Today the company is thriving as a Small Business Administration success story and a leader in its space.

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