A Patent is a grant of right by the government, for a limited time, that can be used to stop others from making,using,selling your invention. What a patent can do, however is give you the right to stop others from making,using or selling it without your permission.

Reasons to Patent your idea

  • The fear that others will steal it
  • To generate licensing revenue
  • To prevent or reduce competition
  • To maintain or acquire market share
  • To enhance company evaluation
  • Because investors want it
  • For business credibility or marketing
  • For personal credibility or vanity
  • For the experience
  • Because someone told you that you should
  • To avoid infringing someone else’s patent

Knowing your reason can help you decide whether it is worth the time, money, and effort to seek a patent. It can also help you and your patent attorney pick the right strategy in the beginning of the process, as well as make an appropriate decision along the way.

The Fear that others will steal it

Immediately after realizing “I have an idea”, nearly every inventor thinks “But I don’t want anyone to steal it!” With the notion that patenting is the way to stop other people from stealing ideas, many inventors quickly decide, I need a patent. Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with seeking a patent to avoid the devastating experience of knowing your idea was stolen. It’s helpful, however, to know whether that’s your primary motivation. Knowing your motivations gives you more choice in the matter and then at least you’ll be clear about what you’re paying for.

To generate Licensing Revenue/Royalties

A frequent strategy for profiting from an invention is to find a company that will manufacture, market, and distribute the product, and pay the inventor a royalty. This is highly sought after arrangement is called licensing. If your prime reason for seeking a patent is to license it, there are few things you should consider. First, you should be one to find a company that wants it and is willing to pay you for your idea. In particular, you need to find the right person and right company.

To prevent or reduce the competition

As an entrepreneur launching a product, you want to sell as many units of your products as you can. Clearly, your effort can be slowed by other competing for the same customers. Preventing or reducing that competition could make selling your product a lot easier. One of the great benefits of even just applying for a patent is the uncertainty that it creates for your competition.

To maintain or acquire market share

Similar in the concept to prevent or reducing the competition, a patent on an important feature cab be your foot in the door in every competitive market. It can also be the reason why a winning product remains relevant in the market space. The key is to patent the features or features that make a difference and provide a solution to a widespread problem. Providing such a solution makes a product highly desirable in the marketplace or help maintain its stature.

To enhance company valuation

When there are patents involved in the key business of the company, and the company who own them, they become the part of business that others cant replicate.  So the finance people can no longer calculate value as just what it would take to build up a company like yours. If you own the key technology, you become “the only game in town.” Suddenly, the value of your company multiplies.

For Business Credibility or Marketing

To potential customer, knowing your product is patented can increase its stature in the marketplace. Often product advertisement proudly tout that a product is patented. They do this because many consumer perceive a patent to be “stamp of approval”, from the US government. While its not really true that a patent indicates government approval pr endorsement of a product, having a patent is often perceived as an indication that an product is innovative and exclusive.

For Experience

Pursuing a patent on an invention for the sheer experience of it might be one of the best reason to do so. For a serial Inventor or  fledgling serial inventor, the education you would gain just by going through the patent process may be well worth the investment of time and money. Often, when people are successful with an invention, it wasn’t their first invention or their first attempt at launching a product that found success, it was their second, or even their third. However, the first time they went through the process was a valuable experience.

To avoid infringing someone else’s patent

Having a patent does not give you the right to make the product. It gives you the right to stop others from making, using or selling the product. There is important difference here. In granting you a patent on your improvement, United States Patent and Trademark Office does not consider whether you could actually produce your product without infringing any other patent.