Patents can be expensive and time-consuming to acquire. Are they worth the time and expense?
The answer is “it depends.” In some cases, patents are vitally important. In other cases, they might not help much. In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of patent protection.
7 Benefits of Patent Protection
There are 7 most important benefits that come with patent protection:
1. Preventing Copying:
You can stop others from copying, manufacturing, selling, or importing your invention.
2. Charge Higher Prices:
You may be able to charge higher prices if competitors can’t copy your products. For example, the prices for iPhones would be MUCH lower if Apple weren’t able to protect their products with their patents.
3. Scope of R&D:
Ability to spend more on R&D. The ability to charge a premium gives manufacturers the ability to fund investing in innovative new products.
4. Compete with Big Brands:
For smaller companies, a patent can give you the ability to compete against larger companies. Larger companies may be able to invest more in R&D, but if you’ve come up with a great idea protected by a patent you may be able to compete more effectively.
5. Marketing advantage:
It can sound impressive to describe your product as relying on “patented technology.”
6. Attract Investments:
Help with raising money. If you seek venture capital, it can be easier to raise money if investors know that their investment is protected by patent(s).
7. Manufacturing Cost Reduction:
You don’t have to manufacture the product yourself. With a patent, you can license your technology to other companies, and make money from your invention or design without having to manufacture or sell it yourself.
Cautions Regarding Patents
There are certain things it’s worth keeping in mind when deciding whether to seek a patent for your product or process.
- When you get a patent the details of your invention become public knowledge. No one can use your invention, typically for 20 years, but after that time anyone who wants to can freely use it. In some cases, a trade secret can provide longer lasting protection. Coca Cola, for example, could have obtained a patent for their recipe, but by keeping it a secret instead the company has been the only who can make it for over 100 years.
- It takes time to get a patent. It typically takes 3-4 years to get a patent, and the inventor will have to spend time on it even you hire a patent attorney.
- There are financial costs to getting a patent. People typically hire patent attorneys to prepare their patents, although it is possible to file patents on your own. There are expenses in preparing a patent application, even if the patent is not approved by the patent office. There are filing fees, and additional fees called “maintenance fees” that are due periodically after the patent is granted. It’s possible an invention might not be worth as much as what it would cost to get a patent.
- If someone does infringe your patent, it can be very expensive to sue them for infringement. Patents do have deterrence value, in that companies are less likely to copy your product if you have a patent because they don’t want to risk a lawsuit.
Applying for a Patent
The two most common types of patents are design patents and utility patents. Utility patents, which protect inventions, are much more complicated than design patents. Prior art searches are essential, and it takes a specialist to do them properly. Inventors almost always use a patent drafting service or attorney when filing a utility patent.
Design patents are simpler, so it would be easier to apply for a design patent on your own without the help of an attorney. See our article, “How to File a Design Patent On Your Own in US” for information on the process.
Whether you are seeking a design patent or utility patent, patent illustrations are an essential part of the process.
According to the US Patent and Trademark Office,
A patent application is required to contain drawings if drawings are necessary to understand the subject matter to be patented.
Nearly all patent applications contain drawings, because they are almost always useful in explaining the invention.
Design patent applications always require drawings, because the drawings are the only actual claim in the patent.
The rules for patent illustrations are very specific, and they vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. There are rules governing everything from the size of the paper to the width of the lines to the way shading must be done.
Because the rules regarding patent drawings are so specific, and errors in drawings can lead to delays or rejection of patent applications, most inventors and patent drafting services rely on the services of professional patent drawing firms, such as Invention Patent Drawings.
Patents can be incredibly valuable assets. Patents benefit society because they provide an incentive for investors to apply their time and money to come up with inventions that benefit everyone. Yes, patents may keep the price of innovative products such as the iPhone up, but without patents, no one would have invested the many millions of dollars it took to create the first iPhone.
There are many benefits to having a patent, but there are some costs and cautions as well.
If you have any questions about patents, or if you have decided to take advantage of the benefits of patent protection and need assistance with patent drawings, please contact us.