7 Ways to Determine If Your Product Needs a Patent

October 31, 2017

7:15 am

Developing an intellectual property plan can be key to preventing mistakes that could impact future valuation of your company. But when is it the right time to get a patent on your product? We asked 7 entrepreneurs how they knew when/if a patent is a good idea for their latest product.

If There Isn’t Already an Existing Patent

More often than not, your idea is likely not original. In fact, there’s a very high chance that someone is either already monetizing your exact idea or already has earned a patent. To avoid wasting your time and money, conduct thorough research to see if you in fact invented something that doesn’t already exist.

-Obinna Ekezie of Wakanow.com

When Your Product Is Fully Developed

You’ll regret it if you rush to get protection for an underdeveloped product. If your idea, concept or invention is at an early-stage of development, your protection won’t extend to further development that renders your product more useful — and you’ll have to shell out the cash for another round of patents again. Wait for product-market fit, and then file.

-Dave Nevogt of Hubstaff.com

If It’s Commercially Viable

It is important to ensure that your idea is commercially viable and likely to sell before you go through the process of getting a patent. There have been countless numbers of ideas that have failed in the marketplace, leading the creator to spend thousands of dollars and time for no reason. Make sure the idea will be a success before protecting it!

-Miles Jennings of Recruiter.com

If Your Product is Easily Duplicated

“Only patent things that have the potential to be easily duplicated and are not likely to change. Patents for things like software aren’t worth your time or money because the industry moves fast, and it’s likely that your patent will be outdated by the time it’s done.

Micah Johnson of GoFanBase 

When You’ve Calculated Your ROI

Who doesn’t want to be a patent holder? As with many things in legal, you will get more protection the more you spend, which of course will add up. If you’re in a land grab and absolutely need to acquire users before competitors do, your time and money are probably better spent on product and marketing. Know your limited resources, and look at the ROI.

-Tony Scherba of Yeti

If the Timing Is Right

Keep in mind that a provisional patent application can only be filed up to one year following the date of the first sale, offer for sale, public use or publication of the invention. As a result, be strategic when you hit any of those four triggers as the one-year countdown will start ticking as soon as you hit any of them.

-Doug Bend of Bend Law Group

If You Are Ready for a Costly Litigation

Generally speaking, I feel that intellectual property protection is grossly overrated by entrepreneurs. It tends to be much more distracting and costly than the true value of having a patent. Therefore, unless you are ready to defend your patent with a war chest of money (patent litigation is extremely expensive), I would instead focus on executing your business plan and making customers happy.

-Kristopher Jones of LSEO.com

Read more advice on intellectual property at TechCo 

This article is courtesy of BusinessCollective, featuring thought leadership content by ambitious young entrepreneurs, executives & small business owners.

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Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC members generate billions of dollars in revenue and have created tens of thousands of jobs.

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