Suzi Dingwall Williams encourages startups to build a patent portfolio. The patent system, she writes, was overhauled in the 1980's allowing multiple, overlapping "monopolies" to be granted. If you have any kind of success, you should expect to be sued.
It's good advice. At iotum we invested in building a relationship with a patent agent early in our history. The firm we use, Canada's Gowlings, was recently named Canada's top firm for intellectual property law, according to Managing Intellectual Property magazine.