A significant fraction of corporate market values derive from intellectual property. It is vital for the practicing manager to appreciate the risks and uncertainties surrounding intellectual property. This note focuses specifically on patent positions, arguing that these deserve special scrutiny because of an emerging crisis within and among governments, corporations, and inventors. The objective of this note is to introduce the reader to patent practices and policies as they may affect the intellectual-property positions of firms. In particular, the note covers five aspects of importance to the practicing manager.