I’m often asked “Should I get a patent?”
My response is always “That depends.”
I attended a great seminar as part of BCIC’s New Ventures Competition a few weeks back. Although I learned some new information and filled in a number of week spots in my understanding, It didn’t change my basic opinion. So why do I say “It depends”?
There are a number of factors to consider in making this decision, but before we look at these, let’s take a quick overview of what obtaining a patent actually does for you.
What’s in a Patent?
Obtaining a patent provides you protection for your specific invention in the country in which the patent was issued. That’s right, you will need to take out one in every country that you wish to protect your idea. Obtaining a patent in one country does not automatically ensure another country will issue one for the same invention.
It does not prevent someone from developing and selling a similar product using slightly different methods or technologies. It does not in itself prevent some one from copying and selling your invention even in the country in which the patent was issued; however, it does give you a means of recourse if this does happen.
Can You Defend Your Patent?
The catch here is that it is up to you to identify and prosecute those that infringe. The onus is on you to demonstrate that the other person’s infringement caused you financial damage. This is a costly endeavor at best, and winning, even if a financial settlement is awarded, does not guarantee you will actually recover any of the settlement, let alone the legal costs.
So Why Would You Patent?
My advice has always been, if you’ve developed something that is applicable across an industry sector or multiple industries, such as a manufacturing process or technology, then a patent is a must. These types of inventions can usually be licensed, and licensing is usually a much more favourable alternative to most companies than getting into a patent law suite. Additionally, industrial designs that may ultimately define your brand should be patented.
On the other hand, if you’ve created a product, especially one that could be easily copied without infringement, patenting is probably not worth the time and cost. In this case, my advice is to put your energy and resources into being first to market. Become the industry leader, and keep ahead of your competition with new products and great service.
Over the next few posts, we’ll take a look at developing and managing a plan to help you get your new product idea to the market.
© Creator Consulting 2014