Head of Strategy and Innovation; Founder of Pearson Strategy Group, LLC
How early in the stage of an invention would you say is appropriate to begin a patent process? I have seen plenty of good ideas get into the marketplace, but by the time the owner wants to start patenting it - enough time has elapsed and enough people are aware of the invention that the likelihood that the invention is still “patentable” is nearly zero.
It’s common for an engineer to be confident in both process and product before leaping into the fray. However, you’ll want to reference the article linked below, written by my partner in business Kelly Casey, if you want more information on why you should go against instinct and training – and patent first. Then let me know your thoughts, comments and questions on the question of when to patent your invention.
Patents are for multi-millionaires. Just publish everything and go to market first until a company hires you to shut up, and let them hire the lawyers. Unless, of course, you can find a patent lawyer willing to work for shares. They know the odds better than you.
History is full of people that thought like you and lost it all. Of course, whether you patent or not depends on the field of the invention: manufacturing processes patents are very difficult to enforce, so much of the chemistry industry relies on trade secrets (which are even more expensive to maintain). On the other hand, electronic, optical, mechanical and pharmaceutical industries try to patent everything. Another issue is that by applying to a patent, you agree to have the details of your invention published, so after your patent expires everybody can use your invention. Some inventions lose value after few years, others would stay useful long after your patent expires. You should know which is your case.
If you are a lone inventor, in my opinion you should put a provisional patent application with the Patent Office. The application fee itself is low, and you have a year to turn it into a "real" application. You do not need a patent attorney, though talking with one may help you write a better provisional application. The best time would be just before you start talking with potential partners and/or investors, many of which would refuse to sign a Non-Disclosure-Agreement (NDA). Having an application will also make you invention look more valuable to these people. After you get a investor or partner, the cost of the full application is less of an issue (their money).
Sure, there are historic examples of winners and losers, but the lottery is still a better risk than a patent. They have become a form of vanity publishing. Normally rational companies hate independent inventors so much that they budget ten times more to break a patent than the royalties would cost them. Even trying to keep your patent options open makes it much harder to do development work.
The patent and copyright laws need a radical overhaul. Instead of paying platoons of useless lawyers, we could keep track of the evolution of creative works, and pay the originators from taxes on the resulting trade enough to support their new work. Talent works for fun, not for money.
Patent is matter of want but not need. Considering, if you pay to get your patent and can afford 10K - 45K+ to secure it, then what do you do when a large company copy your product or idea and service in china or even in USA ?
Do you have 100K+ to defend your patent ? and how long do you want to wait when they object to the ruling?
You may not agree with my point of view , Please watch this videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHjgK6p4nrw .Guy Kawasaki has many years of expedience as a VC and an Entrepreneur and very respected . He covers the patent issue .
If you want to sell your idea or company , then there is merit to patent but for protection I do not believe will work for non bio tech vertical .
The best way is to CrowdFund you idea to get concept validation and even you may raise some seed money . If Crowd likes you , then you can increase and accelerate your rate of innovation and do not worry about competition. The largest CrowdFunding reward project in USA as of today is about 33 million ,