You have invested considerable time, energy and resources into a new idea or invention. Whether you created a new product that can benefit consumers, or one that is oriented more to businesses, you likely believe that your invention could be incredibly useful to future customers.
However, before you make the leap to start the steps toward selling your product, you may wonder about your options to protect it from competitors. As a creator, you should consider seeking a patent to protect your rights and avert the competition from using your invention for their own benefit.
The benefits of securing patent protection
Securing a patent provides you with the rights to your invention including the ability to decide who else may use it. Other benefits include:
- Giving you a distinct advantage. Inventors often pursue patents in highly competitive industries where developing something first is key. Securing a patent can provide you with an advantage over your peers.
- Offering the potential for more profit. Holding the exclusive rights to your product frequently leads to a higher profit margin, since direct competitors cannot market your invention.
- Defending your rights when necessary. While the threat of litigation alone can deter many, patent infringement still occurs. As a patent holder, you may need to take legal action against those that infringe upon your patent rights.
- Attracting investment. Many inventors need outside investors to help finance their startup business, and such investors typically want to see that your invention has patent protection
- Marketing. Including 'patent pending' when you start advertising your product indicates innovativeness, and also serves as a warning to competitors not to copy your invention.
Whether your invention is still in the idea stage or is a fully developed product, getting started early to pursue your patent options is always in your best interest.
Are there any drawbacks?
While securing a patent comes with many advantages, there are at least some potential drawbacks to consider. Patents are only valid in the country where you sought protection, so to get patent protection elsewhere requires additional patent filings, which can be costly.
Additionally, pursuing a patent, even if only in the US, can be a long and costly process. The entire process typically takes 1-2 years. And, there is no guarantee that your patent application will be approved.
Lastly, securing a patent does not automatically lead to a profit. While the patent can give you a competitive advantage, you will need to set up a business, find a manufacturer, start advertising, etc.
Despite these obstacles, many inventors and startup companies still find it worthwhile to pursue patent protection.