You’ve come up with an amazing idea for a new product. Whether you’ve created a new piece of business software or a new kind of lipstick, you’ll want to protect your idea, and should be sure it’s safe. But do you actually need a patent to do this, and what are the pros and cons of having one?
Before you decide, it’s important to do some research into patents. Look into what kinds of patents there are and make sure your product is eligible. Look at a guide like Patents 101: The Different Types of Patents to learn about what sort of patent you might need to protect your idea.
It’s also important to do some research into existing patents to make sure that nobody has your idea patented already.
Do some market research before applying for a patent. Getting a patent is an expensive process, so you want to be sure it’s worth it. Make sure there is an audience out there for your product before you consider patenting the idea. Take into account the cost of marketing and manufacture too, to make sure your business will be viable.
To get a patent, you’ll need to have your product in the right place. Make sure you have a working prototype so you know your product is viable. Changing the design is more difficult once you have your patent, so make your work is close to final.
A patent can give you security while you finish your product and get it ready to go to market. If you’re investing a lot of time and money into developing a product, you want to be sure you have the time to get everything perfect and in place. A patent gives you more time to work on things, without the worry that a competitor can develop something similar and get on shelves faster than you can.
If you’re planning to license your product to another company, having a patent in place can be a good bargaining tool. You’ve already dealt with one of the major legal costs and risks of taking on a new product, which could mean you can negotiate for higher royalty fees. It also shows a potential buyer that your product isn’t infringing on anything already in the market.
Remember that a patent only protects you when you enforce it. Nobody but you will check if someone is infringing on your patent and developing a similar product. If it does happen, it’s also up to you to invest the time and money on pursuing legal action.
Bear in mind that a patent is also limited. It’s entirely possible for someone to design something very similar without violating the patent, so despite your care, you may find yourself left behind.
Before deciding whether a patent is the best course of action for you and your product, make sure you consult a professional. Speak to a few advisers, not just a patent lawyer, and make an informed decision on how best to proceed.