Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 457–475 | Cite as

Should we manage the process of inventing? Designing for patentability

  • Olga KokshaginaEmail author
  • Pascal Le Masson
  • Benoit Weil
Original Paper


Intellectual property is considered to provide the infrastructure of innovation, and companies could proactively generate their intellectual assets and strengthen the business opportunities by focusing on discovery phases. This paper examines whether the invention process can be managed and finds that patents appear not only as a result of inventive activity but as the purpose as well. By building on recent design theories such as the concept–knowledge design theory, this research introduces a general framework that enables controlling for ‘patentability’ criteria, describes a patent in a unique way using actions, effects, and associated knowledge, and defines a patentable subject matter based on the notion of the person skilled in the art. Using the introduced model, several patent design methods are compared and their performances are characterized. The model was tested within the European semiconductor manufacturer, STMicroelectronics. The results indicate that the quality of patent proposals depends on the capacity to extend existing knowledge combinations, to overcome the initial design reasoning of the person skilled in the art, and to ensure novelty and sufficient inventive step. Finally, the proposed model in this research, the ‘design-for-patentability’ model, demonstrates that there is an unexplored property of the concept–knowledge design theory—non-substitution—showing that the order within design is irreversible and influences the quality of results.


Intellectual property Innovation Patent design C–K theory Patentability criteria Person skilled in the art 



Funding was provided by ANR PatentLab.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olga Kokshagina
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Pascal Le Masson
    • 1
  • Benoit Weil
    • 1
  1. 1.Center of Management Science CGS - i3 UMR CNRS 9217MINES ParisTech - PSL Research UniversityParisFrance
  2. 2.STIM - Science and Technology for Innovation managementParisFrance

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