We get this question a lot. Most inventors we speak with believe they really need to have a patent in place before moving ahead with their idea or product. There are some things to consider however.
If you have a truly unique process or technology then it’s certainly more worthwhile to pursue the expense. Keep in mind however, that the patent will actually reveal your technology or process, which teaches in great detail how it works and potentially how to get around it.
The other huge issue that’s normally not considered is if someone does infringe your patent are you prepared or able to afford to fight it legally? A patent does not automatically make it so no one can physically put a product like yours in the market. It just allows you to make them stop producing it IF you go through the legal motions to stop them. And as we all know, legal fees are crazy!
Since we at Link Group create and develop so many products, it is unrealistic to attempt to patent them all. It’s also quite tough to have them issued. We have never lost a licensing deal because a product was not patented.
Another consideration is the expected life of your product. A high percentage of products, especially novelty types, are in the market for a few years, therefore by the time a patent actually issues the life of your product could be over.
On the positive side, it certainly buys you time to establish yourself first in the market place even if there are similar products eventually. It may be worthwhile if you have 1 or 2 products and the ability to go through the motions if someone should infringe it.
It’s also a plus in the eyes of a manufacturer if you plan on licensing your product. They love to hear items they invest in are patented.
You always have the option to show your product to a company with Non Disclosures signed and if they really want your product patented, they may be willing to share or even cover the cost of doing so. You can negotiate that they cover the cost of patenting initially and take it out of your royalties, this way you have paid for it and own it. You want to make sure you keep a patent in your name if it’s a licensing deal.
If you do apply, keep in mind you only have 1 year from the date you apply for the patent in the U.S. to apply for foreign patents.
Some things to consider when thinking about patenting or not!
Always feel free to contact us if you have questions with any aspect of product development. We’re more than happy to help!