When you have put in the time, skills and resources to bring your idea to fruition, you need to protect your creation from abuse or unauthorized use. This is where patenting comes in. However, before taking this route, it helps to understand how different types of patents work so you can make an informed decision.
One of the most important things you may need to know from the onset is that a patent comes with specific benefits and drawbacks, such as what can and cannot be patented. Here’s what you should know:
So what are the limitations of patents?
While patents provide strong intellectual property protection, they are never perfect. One of the primary drawbacks of patents is that you need to make a significant upfront investment.
Additionally, not all inventions are legally patentable. For instance, you cannot patent living things, mere ideas, mathematical equations or laws of nature.
Sometimes, it may be difficult to clearly define your work in a manner that prevents other people from coming up with similar creations that do not amount to infringement. This is especially possible because patent laws require you to make your creation and its workings public. By making your invention public, it may be possible for someone to find workarounds and profit from your work without necessarily violating your protection – this happens a lot when it comes to software products.
You also need to know that patents have time limits. According to the USPTO, a patent remains valid for up to 20 years from the filing date. After expiry, anyone can replicate your invention.
So is a patent worth it?
Here are some of the questions you should consider asking when determining whether to patent your invention or not:
- Can you legally patent the invention?
- Would making your invention’s blueprint public compromise its value?
- Does the filing cost make sense?
- Would you need exclusive rights after the expiry of the patent period?
- Do you have the means to safeguard your trade secrets?
- How do you protect your invention from workarounds?
Protecting your hard work is a top priority. However, finding the best approach to it can be a challenge and you may need to find out how you can safeguard your interests while filing for a patent.