If you fancy yourself to be an inventor, there’s no better feeling than when you believe you have finally created something that is sure to change the world. Whether it’s a better mousetrap or a high-tech piece of industrial equipment, there will be many decisions to be made before bringing your product to market. One of the most important is determining if you need a patent, since this could ensure you and you alone will have exclusive rights to your invention. But while this process may sound easy, it is often anything but that. To learn more about determining the need for a patent, here are some factors to keep in mind.
Is Your Invention a Breakthrough?
Generally speaking, if your product is very similar to many others already on the market, there is little reason to obtain a patent. While you still can choose to do so, your chances of having a meaningful level of legal protection will be somewhat slim. However, if your invention is a breakthrough with little if any precedent, obtaining a patent should be a top priority. To determine this, not only should you carefully study the current marketplace, but also speak with an experienced patent attorney.
Consider the Cost
Whatever you invent, it’s important to remember you can probably sell it without ever having a patent. But if you feel it’s best to obtain one, one factor to carefully consider will be the cost. To file an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, you must first decide the type of patent for which you need. For example, if your invention deals mostly with function, you’ll need a utility patent. However, if it covers aesthetics, a design patent will probably be recommended by your patent attorney. Whatever the type, the process can often cost between $5,000-$10,000, and can be very complex. Depending upon the complexity of your invention, an application can consist of well over 100 pages and just as many drawings. Because of this, always consult with a knowledgeable patent attorney prior to filing an application.
Once you have obtained a patent for your invention, that gives you exclusive rights to making and selling your product. However, that doesn’t mean at some point you will discover someone else infringing upon your patent. When this happens, you’ll need the services of a skilled patent attorney to enforce the legal rights associated with your patent. In these instances, a civil lawsuit is filed by your attorney. But because patent law is extremely complex, it’s not uncommon for a case to take months to resolve. Therefore, always work with a patent attorney who understands these cases, and the best way to resolve them in their client’s favor.
Consult an Attorney
If you decide to pursue obtaining a patent, it’s best to not go it alone. Due to the many complexities of the application process, working closely with a patent attorney can ensure your application will be handled properly from start to finish.