Do You Really Need a Patent?
Everyone wants to know, do they need a patent? Most inventors are extremely fearful their ideas are going to be stolen from them. The question really isn’t that simple, though. What you need to do is think critically and develop a business strategy. What are you really after? How are you going to get there? When it comes to intellectual property, if we know one thing, it’s that there are absolutely no black and whites.
A little background: Stephen Key, inventRight cofounder, has nearly 20 patents. He continues to file intellectual property — in fact his latest patent was issued last year. He successfully defended his intellectual property against the world’s largest toy company in Federal Court. He’s been collecting royalties on his patent-protected technology for more than two decades. He’s lectured at the United States Patent and Trademark Office about the power of patents. When he says this is what he’s learned, he’s speaking from experience. That is not true of many people who give advice about intellectual property.
Do you need a patent? Maybe — maybe not. It all depends on whom you’re asking.
If you ask a patent attorney? Of course he'll say yes. It’s their job to protect you. And at that they do a wonderful job. But you don't have to protect every idea you have. Before you consult an attorney, you need to become the expert. You need to assess the marketability of your idea and then determine whether or not to move forward. Because at the end of the day, your attorney will only ever be as good as the insight and information you supply him with. Learning how to use provisional patent applications (PPAs) to your advantage is crucial.
When you become an inventRight student, we show you how to become the expert of your idea. We teach you how to file intellectual property that is truly valuable to you and your licensee. You will learn how to act strategically, not out of fear.
For example, you will learn:
- How to stop copycats and workarounds with the intellectual property you file.
- How to write your own PPA, which will save you thousands and thousands of dollars.
- How to use a PPA to license your idea.
- How to work with attorneys to get the best and most affordable IP possible.
If you ask a first-time inventor who is afraid of people stealing his idea? Of course he’ll say yes. But the reality is, patents don’t prevent me-too products from hitting the market. The most powerful companies in the world aren’t able to ward off copycats. Patents are tools to be used strategically. After sparring in Federal Court, Stephen knows for sure: You don’t ever own anything. It’s all about perceived ownership.
We want inventors to stop filing intellectual property out of fear. When you become an inventRight student, you’ll be concerned, but not fearful. You’ll understand the importance of testing the market first. You will discover a well-written PPA is enough to get you started. We empower you with the insights and strategies we’ve developed after doing this for 15 years.
If you ask someone who is starting a business and plans to look for investors, of course he'll say yes. Investors, unsurprisingly, want to know what they’re getting. How much time and money have you invested? Patents play into that. Just one won’t cut it, though. A wall of intellectual property, including copyrights and trademarks, is needed to truly assert one’s ownership. So again, crafting a thoughtful strategy in advance is key.
When you become an inventRight student, we teach you how to think about IP strategically for every situation. For example, if you want to start a business, we show you how to use intellectual property from a startup perspective. This will save you time and money and provide your investors with the confidence they need to invest in you and your project.
If you ask someone who invents for high-tech industries like medical, automotive, and packaging? Of course he'll say yes. Industries like these require a lot of know-how. Innovation happens from within, and slowly. (Just think of the equipment needed to implement even the slightest of changes.) Because of this, and the fact that so much capital is required, intellectual property is vital. The opportunities are huge; so is the risk.
When you become an inventRight student, we teach you how to approach and work with large powerful companies — how to speak their language, so to say. To license your idea, you need to understand their culture, not to mention how they manufacture. You need to take away risk; we show you how. Working with large companies is completely different than working with small companies. It takes time and patience. We tell you what to look out for so you avoid pitfalls. We share with you the strategies you need to ensure a deal gets done. Especially when it comes to large companies, you need to be the project manager.
If you watch Shark Tank? Of course you’ll hear all the sharks say yes. Remember, the sharks are buying businesses, not ideas. When you start a business, having some intellectual property is important. It makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy. But the truth of the matter is defending your patents in Federal Court is extremely expensive. If your product is popular, copycats will arise.
We at inventRight love Shark Tank too. There is truly a lot to learn from watching the show. Is Shark Tank right for you and your idea? Please click here to read our article about the tank.
Here’s the reality. Most inventors are inventing consumer products. And most consumer products are not patented.
Why should you trust us? We help our students finalize licensing agreements just about every week at inventRight these days. 99.9% of the time these ideas are not patented, they’re merely protected with a provisional patent application. If the licensee wants to file intellectual property, that’s an option. But because most products move in and out of the market so quickly, no intellectual property is required. Before a patent issues, the product’s life might have ended. Some industries don’t require intellectual property whatsoever!
After all these years, what do we think? The best way of protecting your creativity is by getting to market first and having great customer service.
At inventRight, we believe in looking at protection from a business perspective, not only, or even primarily, a legal one. At the end of the day, are you trying to protect your idea, or sell it? We are in the business of selling ideas.
So, what do we really do at inventRight? We teach you how to be in control, which is priceless.
For example, we teach you how to:
- Use the tools of the USPTO to your advantage.
- Overcome any roadblock.
- Pull your ideas to the marketplace.
- Protect your creativity.
- Work with companies.
- Understand the language of licensing.
- Increase your chances of success.
We’ve been coaching inventors for more than 15 years! Stephen has been bringing products to market for more than 30 years. We are here to help.
Provisional Patent Applications
In 1995, the United States Patent and Trademark Office began offering inventors a uniquely fantastic option to get in the game: Filing a provisional patent application. When an inventor submits a PPA, he is essentially declaring, “This is my idea; I am claiming I invented it now. But I’m not ready to file a non-provisional patent application just yet. I want to test the waters first.”
After you file a PPA, you are allowed to describe your invention as “patent pending” for 12 months before having to decide: Is it worth your time and effort to file a non-provisional application? Please note: If you don’t file a non-provisional application during those 12 months, you can still try to get a patent later on — you just won’t benefit from the early filing date your initial PPA established.
The way we see it, there’s no reason not to file a PPA first. Use those 12 months of protection to shop your idea around! What do potential licensees say? Are they interested? Is this an idea consumers want to buy and will reach into their wallets to pay for? If it isn’t… why even bother trying to get a patent? Do you want to protect your idea, or sell it?
Without a doubt, the single biggest mistake inventors make is thinking they need a patent right away. Getting a patent issued can easily cost upwards of $15,000! We think you need to know someone is going to pay you for your idea before you commit to making that kind of investment. If you just want to be able to look at a nicely framed plaque on your wall… well, sure. A patent attorney will happily take your money.
On its website, the USPTO explains why the provisional patent application came into existence pointblank. It was “designed to provide a lower-cost first patent filing in the United States.” How much will filing a PPA cost you? $65 if you’re an independent inventor. At inventRight, we teach you how to file yours yourself.