I have often been asked, “Should I patent my invention?”
Of course! It is always the safest way to protect your invention from people stealing it; yes, unfortunately this happens.
Some inventors choose not to patent straight away. This may be considered foolish by experts and patent attorneys, but not everyone can afford to pay for patents on every idea they have.
Later topics will touch further on patents and what you need to know and do. At this stage, however, understanding that you don’t need a patent immediately is crucial in staying positive about not having to spend all of your money. It is going to be very hard for you to talk to people and get advice if you don’t have a patent of your invention. You are restricted to close friends and family who may have a biased opinion on the idea. If you can’t afford a patent attorney to lodge the patent application, consider lodging your own patent application direct through your country’s Patent Department; they should have websites to assist you.
Once you have a patent you will feel an enormous sense of relief as you can now start asking advice and seek suppliers who can help you and point you in the right direction.
A patent protection is going to be extra useful if you are planning on manufacturing and selling the idea yourself. If you are looking to license the idea, the patent, along with a design, prototype and marketing is further going to increase your chances of a licensing deal. A patent is a very valuable asset to have during licensing deal negotiations. The company will save on patent fees and any other associated legal costs along with giving you leverage to ask for a higher royalty.
One thing you need to remember when you decide to get a patent straight away is that the provisional application lasts for 12 months. These 12 months is dedicated to getting your idea off the ground, designed, prototyped and manufactured, ready to hit the market. After the 12 months, you need to apply for another patent, such as the International Patent. This is where the big costs come into play.
You also need to keep in mind that your patent is only limited to the extent that you are willing to enforce it. There is always the possibility that someone is going to steal or infringe on your patent and, without having the funds to pay legal fees, it is going to be very difficult to enforce it.
There is only one reason why you would want to get a patent straight away and that is to get the soonest possible filing date.
This is the option many people choose to do first and is sometimes the best option. By working on the product design and development first, you can fundamentally prove that your idea works and functions exactly how you want it. Using prototypes is an excellent way to enable you to test your product for, FORM, FIT and FUNCTION. You need to be aware that these two stages of design and prototyping can take anywhere from 3 – 6 months, sometimes more. This etches closer to the end of your 12 months in the initial patent application.
Consider these factors before applying for a patent:
Patent Search – Has someone already patented your idea? You can either pay someone to perform this search or you can do it yourself. You need to make sure you are not infringing on someone else’s patent.
Design and Prototype – Ensure that your idea will work as you initially planned. It is difficult to change material or how the idea works after a patent has been filed.
Researching the Market – What is your target audience? Is there any point in manufacturing a product if it isn’t commercially viable?
How much are the Manufacturing Costs? – Not everyone understands the cost implications for manufacturing. Do your homework and contact us to look at the idea and give you a further understanding of all processes involved.
In my experience in working with patents and inventions, I have seen at least 50% of all inventors fail due to the fact that they cannot afford to do the product development after the patent stage. Why? Simply because they are not aware of the costs involved. So what’s was the point? I have seen another 10% of people who go ahead with the patent first and figure out that the actual thing they are trying to patent doesn’t work or isn’t able to be manufactured. They then get a professional design and find out that the initial patent doesn’t exactly reflect the new design.