Developing a new product or service is exciting and potentially quite lucrative. And while not every invention will be as notorious as the light bulb or the latest technological breakthrough, it can still be wise to patent yours.
That said, not everyone patents their products. Or at least, they are not quick to do so. If you are wavering about getting a patent, consider the following questions to help you determine just how important doing so sooner rather than later can be.
Is it eligible for patent protection?
You may not realize if what you have is eligible for patent protection. Some people think about different ways to protect intellectual property; others assume they cannot patent something. Typically, existing ideas and inventions are among those that generally are not eligible for a patent.
However, patents can be incredibly important in protecting your invention or discovery of new designs or processes.
Could others get there first?
Discovering or inventing something is an incredible achievement. However, if others are on the same mission as you are and they are even slightly faster in their work, they go on record as the inventor.
That is typically how it works with patents, too. Even if your invention predates someone who ultimately designed or discovered the same thing, they can secure the protection of a patent if they are the first to file for one. And being the inventor of record means, according to US Statute, having “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale or selling” the invention in the United States or importing the invention into the United States. The patent does not give the inventor the right to make, sell, use or import the intellectual property, but rather, the right to exclude others from doing so.
In other words, if you are in a competitive field, completing your patent application as soon as possible can make a critical difference in whether you ultimately own the patent. Even if you have not disclosed your invention publicly, you can still file a provisional patent application to reserve your rights under these first-to-file rules.
What makes patents so valuable?
Having the legal right to exclude others from utilizing an invention, in turn, means having the right to use, replicate and distribute the invention yourself. This control in and of itself is valuable when it gives the inventor an edge over competitors.
However, there can also be considerable value in owning patents to avoid infringement claims and as part of a more extensive intellectual property portfolio.
Patenting an invention can be a crucial means of protection for any inventor. Before you assume you don’t need one or put off the application process, consider this information and how these decisions could dramatically impact your rights.