Q: I have a new idea for a product or technology. Should I consider patenting my idea? If so, what is the first step?
Absolutely consider it. “You should absolutely consider patenting your idea, and with a brief consultation with a lawyer, you can ascertain whether it makes sense to proceed. A provisional patent can be an effective step. While you can file one on your own, it’s often affordable for a lawyer to file one on your behalf (which maximizes efficacy/protection). Many lawyers offer discounted rates if you write the first draft.” Basha Rubin, Priori Legal
Check for prior inventions. “You need to research your idea and make sure no one else has done anything like it. Otherwise, if there is ‘prior art,’ as they call it, your patent application is unlikely to succeed. You should thoroughly run searches through sites like Google and Amazon, of course, but also through www.uspto.gov.” Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net
Make sure the idea is valuable. “Patents are very expensive, running anywhere from the tens of thousands to millions in legal fees. They can also take anywhere from three to 10 years to be issued. Before patenting your idea, consider validating the market by acquiring some customers, or, at the minimum, hopping on prospective calls with high-value future customers. Then, talk to a patent attorney to explore your options.” Sathvik Tantry, FormSwift
Talk to legal counsel. “It’s never a bad idea to consider a patent, but going through the process is expensive and time-consuming. Talk to someone who specializes in your specific area. Technology patents have different requirements than other categories. Do your due diligence, and talk to legal counsel about filing for patent-pending status while you determine if you need full IP protection around your idea.” Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
Make sure your product works. “If you apply for a patent and your product doesn’t work, someone could invalidate your claim, and that would invalidate your patent.” Kevin Xu, Mebo International
Determine your end game. “Patents are sometimes the right path, but definitely not the only path. Spend some time thinking through the best way to turn this idea into a product that people are willing to pay for. If you need to divulge the ‘secret sauce’ to determine if there is commercial appeal, then consider filing a provisional patent that will give you some time to figure things out while limiting cost. Get professional help!” Douglas Hutchings, Picasolar
Don’t bother; it’s a waste of time. “I believe patenting ideas early in the game is a waste of time. Ideas need to be developed into products before a patent can protect them. So, your first step is to create a working prototype and then get customers to use the product. Then, make it better based on customer feedback.” Jyot Singh, RTS Labs
Don’t worry about it. “Most successful businesses aren’t successful because they have a patent or because of a great idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and patents are overrated. Instead, take action and focus on execution. As you demonstrate success, then get defensive.” Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
Don’t patent software. “Patenting software is a waste of your time and money. Your idea (and eventually product) will change so fast that the patent will cover very little if it is granted. Instead, invest those resources in furthering your product development and sales. Use speed to market and inside knowledge of your market place to gain and keep a competitive edge.” Andrew Hoeft, Pinpoint Software, Inc.
Fast track your intellectual property (IP). “As long as you reasonably believe that your IP is both valuable and patentable, then you absolutely should consider filing a patent. The USPTO has recently opened up a new ‘Accelerated Examination’ process that can get your final disposition back within 12 months, and usually it comes back much faster. Get quotes from patent lawyers to potentially save money but protect your IP no matter what!” Anthony Johnson, American Injury Attorney Group