I have a design patent and let me tell you – it isn’t all roses all the time. Yes, I was very fortunate for the first few years until someone started to infringe…….boy was I hopping mad. After many lawyer letters back and forth and several thousands of dollars, I really got nowhere. This company was a shell and we could never find a real person to actually bring a suit against so we gave up after a year or two. Then suddenly, they disappeared for a while (I thought they’d given up and I’d won!) then resurfaced about a year later with a PATENT over my patent!! After crying to my attorney – there really wasn’t anything to do any more. Fortunately they sell to a totally different market and don’t seem to be taking away any of my market share – but it is still annoying. My experts below share a few of their tips for those of you considering a patent.
1. Legal Smegal Patents or Not
To patent or not to patent: Many of my clients have patents, several have had to defend them. Get one, I say yes and make sure the documentation is impeccable! Check with several patent attorneys before going with one.
Those that have defended patents find it is long and arduous journey. After all it is the legal system! When they did finally win or settle they came out ok, but not sure they wanted another patent.
The main point seems to be the small variant in design that makes it a new patent! Good luck!
2. Design Patent Unfairly Treated
To patent or not to patent: My patent research stopped short of contacting an attorney. What I learned was getting a design patent would cost me thousands of dollars and if one person copied my product but changed ONE TINY DETAIL they could patent their design and so on and so on. Design patents aren't worth the money.
To patent or not to patent: Yes, patents are worth it! Creativity must be protected in order for anyone who conceived an idea to keep it and possibly enjoy the revenue fruits of their labor! If you are in a dilemma as to whether or not to patent an idea, ask yourself these questions: (1) Are your ideas valuable to you? (2) What would you do if you saw someone had made money from your unprotected idea?
Protect your ideas and sleep better at night!
Thanks to: Mary Winkenwerder.
4. Patent..path to Future
To patent or not to patent: A product/process/service must be unique or innovative and be first to be patented. A patented product offers many safeguards & financial sustainability to the patent holder:
1.Piracy & duplicity is discouraged.
2.Opportunity to franchise your Patent and earn lifelong financial benefits in the form of Licence/usage/Royalty fee etc.
3. Opportunity of globalization of your product/s.
Getting patent is tedious, time consuming and financially expensive proposition. Product must be unique.
5. Protect your gadget FREE!
To patent or not to patent: 97% of private patents don't succeed so don't waste your money. Filing a patent application costs nothing. So, file an application. You will receive a patent number and a date indicating that you have an application pending. Now put Patent Pending on your product and scare off would be copyists. As the twelve month deadline for payment approaches simply allow that application to lapse and refile for nothing. You can be Patent Pending for ever!
John Richards 'The Naked Inventor' from Amazon.
6. Do a patent search!!
To patent or not to patent: I feel a patent is important,especially for the independent inventor that may want to license their product.I find many inventors skip over a very important step of the invention process, doing a patent search.Inventors should check search engines & USPTO.gov with various descriptions of their idea. If the idea is out there already,they should consider how different their invention may be.If they still didn't find anything similar,they should have a patent search done by a patent attorney/agent.
7. Keeping Trade Secrets Quiet
To patent or not to patent: We chose not to patent our technology due to a few reasons. Because we are a self funded start up, we did not have the funds to pursue a patent. Secondly, we realize that with a patent, we would have to divulge all of our trade secrets which would allow our competitors to easily reproduce our technology. And lastly, if our competitors copied our patented technology, we wouldn't have the funds to defend ourselves in court as legal fees would be astronomical.
8. Profit from your invention
To patent or not to patent: A patent gives you the right to prevent others from making, using, or selling your invention. In other words, others need your permission, typically a license, to practice your claimed invention. A well prepared patent with broad claims is more valuable than a patent with narrow, very specific claims because it has broader licensing potential. Negotiating a license is much cheaper than suing for patent infringement, even though the negotiations can take a protracted period of time to complete.
9. Success! Maybe!
To patent or not to patent: Given the amount of time and effort I put into developing the invention, there was a certain level of comfort achieved in securing a patent for it, regardless of whether I attempt to commercialize it or not. But the patent system is hardly perfect, often burdened with large financial expense and less-than-qualified people. I felt I had no choice but to let go of my attorney and finish the process alone, and my success or failure might not be truly determined unless and until I need to defend it.