Understanding Patents in Business
A patent is a type of intellectual property that grants exclusive rights to an innovator. It prevents other entities from reproducing, selling, or using the invention without permission. A patent allows businesses to monetize their innovation and recoup the costs of research and development.
Businesses of all sizes can apply for patents, but not all ideas can be patented. In the United States, patentable ideas are required to be novel, useful, and non-obvious. Additionally, patents can only be used to protect tangible products—software, digital services, and intangible concepts are not eligible for patent protection.
The Process for Getting a Patent
The process of obtaining a patent can be long and difficult. The first step is to file a non-provisional patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The application must include comprehensive details of the invention, a clear description of how it works, and drawings or diagrams to illustrate the invention’s design.
Applicants will then contact a patent attorney to assist in the preparation of the application. The lawyer will assess the probability of obtaining a patent, prepare the application and, if necessary, gather additional evidence or information to strengthen the application’s chances of approval.
Once the patent application has been approved, the patent owner will receive a patent certificate from the USPTO with an expiration date. This patent is valid for a set number of years and during that period, the patent owner has the right to prevent others from exploiting their invention.
Patenting Strategy for Businesses
When it comes to protecting their ideas, businesses should consider the importance of patents. While the costs of obtaining a patent are high, the protection this provides can be invaluable for companies looking to commercialize their innovation.
Additionally, companies should consider what types of ideas are feasible for patenting and whether pursuing a patent makes sense for their budget and goals. Businesses can also look into alternative strategies such as keeping their ideas secret or filing for trademark protection. All of these options have advantages and disadvantages, so businesses should explore each one and decide which is right for them.