When Should you File for a Patent


Before you get too excited about your little idea, start talking in front of the wrong people, you need to protect it. An idea simple has no value. You need to have proof that you yourself came up with whole idea, i.e., the idea is absolutely original. But patenting every idea that comes up your mind may not be feasible. The important question is- is your idea a business opportunity or an invention?

Patenting is an important tool to secure your product in the market, but it may not be your ticket to success. So before you spend thousands of dollars, filing a patent, you need to analyse whether your idea is indeed a smart business move. Securing a patent should never be your first step, because not all patented products stand through market dynamics.

So the very first step should be to analyse the idea, beyond your gut feeling and encouraging comments from friends and family. This involves a proper market research with an attention to product development. You are supposed to do a preliminary check on your target market, manufacturing and distribution costs, comparing costs of similar products, etc.,  before you invest a great deal of time and money on patenting your invention. How profitable is your invention in the actual market?

Do a preliminary patent search: Before you file for a patent you have to make sure no one else have patented your idea already. You can start with a basic search at www.uspto.gov. If you find any sort of non-patented artwork related to your idea, you cannot patent it.

Design a Prototype: A prototype is an early model or sample built to test a concept, which has all the specifications of the real working system. This is the design of the invention you will be presenting before the potential investors. Prototyping is necessary so that you discover all the flaws or kinks before your idea can be patented.

Once you have carefully covered up all the loopholes in your project, you can finally consider if you want to patent your idea or not. If you don’t want to go for a patent, you may want to consider filing for a trademark or copyright instead- a less expensive and easier option.

You may also want to make an important decision- whether you want to manufacture and sell the product all by yourself or you want to license for sale to another company. In both these cases, patenting will justify your investment in design.

After your research on the idea, designing of the prototype and working out the entire kink in your design, you can finally file the patent. While you are writing the patent and filling out the application on your own, it is better to get legal aid when you file the patent, so that any loophole in your patent document does not allow your competitor to copy your idea.

This is when you create a business plan and figure out how you would bring your product to the market.

While your patent attorneys will always recommend you to get a patent first, don’t just surrender to their advices, before you make an actual evaluation on your choices. Keep your mind open!