Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:40 am
via The Dividend Monk
This is the third in a series of articles highlighting dividend companies that have large and durable economic advantages, or “moats”, that protect their business operations and allow years or decades of strong profitability.
When looking for long-term investments, one typically wants to find a business that is performing well not simply because management is on top of their game right now, but rather because the business itself has fundamental and difficult-to-replicate advantages over its competitors.
Some companies keep competitors away by patenting their products. This gives them a number of years where they can get all of their research and development to pay off with nice profit margins.
If a company is big enough, they can successfully layer or ladder dozens, hundreds, or thousands of patents so that at any given time, only a subset of their patents are expiring, and new ones are replacing them. That way, most of the product portfolio is continually refreshed with a strong set of patent shields.
When a company organizes hundreds or thousands of engineers and scientists, and then layers their products with patent shields, this creates a pretty formidable defense against competitors. Some of the largest patent-holding companies often buy companies just for their patents.