All patents do not offer the same investor protections, learn how to navigate these shark-infested waters with a seasoned patent-pro.
When an innovator invents, the first thing that comes to mind is to patent that invention, right? Maybe not. There are some types of inventions that do not need the protection of a patent, and there are some times of patents that are not worth the money needed to complete the patent application process. Navigating the patent filing minefield can be costly. Discover which category your new invention might fall under, in order to conserve your hard-earned money.
You Have a New Baby
When you are responsible for inventing a new device, methodology, or formula, you feel somewhat like a new parent that has just coaxed a new life form into the world. In a sense, you have, except that now you have the responsibility of parenthood. Ok, so go get a patent right? Maybe wrong. Never just go find a lawyer to simply satisfy your inventor’s ego, in order to have that special piece of paper that says you are an officially certified innovator. Be brutally truthful with yourself. Do nothing for ego’s sake. It could be very costly.
What Patents are Worthless
A good patent attorney will probably argue with me that there are some patents that are worthless. After all, that’s how they make their money. Any patent to them is better than no patent. In truth, design patents, and formulation type patents are basically useless. A design patent is issued for just what it says; the ornamental or overall design of a device, period. These can be easily broken by anyone. Simply change the design features a bit and the original design patent is not violated. Sometimes even a utility patent is written “to tight” and is not broad enough to give needed protection. Make sure the attorney is very qualified. A patent will normally be written in a very broad scope to try to cover multiple areas of possible imitation.
Patents for Formulas
These type of patents are also questionable as to their worthiness. Just as the design patent can be easily violated, so can the patented formula. Once the patent is issued, everyone has access to the formula and with rare exception, can duplicate it by simply changing a non-functional portion of it. Think of it as a recipe. A recipe can be easily changed slightly by adding or deleting a no key ingredient. That’s what can happen with a method-type patent. These types of innovations may be best served as closely guarded “trade secrets” instead of exposing the ingredients to the world through the patent process.
This Patent Advice Has Exceptions
Like any normal rule of operation, there can be exceptions. If you consider carefully the cost and decide that in selling the device, formula, recipe, or methodology, that any patent, no matter if it isn’t even necessary, maybe a selling asset, then, by all means, go for it. If your potential buyer might be influenced in a more lucrative fashion, simply because he is dealing with a registered patent design or process number then perhaps this piece of official paper can be used as leverage. If it appears to be more conducive to negotiating, therefore making it more valuable, then it is worth the paper it is printed on. That is for you to decide. In any event, be aware that these types of patents can be easily violated. To protect your product and save money on the patent search and filing process, read on.