What No One Told You About Patents
Inventors need to be smart and practical with every step between idea, patent, prototype and product.
We're going to explore some of the less talked about nuances with patents to help keep you aware, safe, and headed in the right direction with yours. This is the stuff inventors and entrepreneurs really need to know.
Writers write, musicians make music, and inventors invent. The drive which comes from deep inside those whom are inspired makes it virtually impossible to suppress creativity.
Unfortunately the categories breakdown a little differently due to reality:
All three of these almost-rich-and-famous individuals simply needed something which most never receive: A break.
A Patent Is Not A “Sometimes Thing”
Great leaders and motivators are often noted for their sayings. Winning and losing are both extremely habit forming.
An inventor without a patent might look up at the scoreboard and notice the score, 1-0, not in their favor.
And one person’s idea may well become another company’s patent.
If a concept is original, has a unique and valuable potential purpose which could positively impact a significant group of people or a specialized industry, then that is the initial sign that it should be patented.
Patents: Fight Or Flight Instinct
Requirements for obtaining a patent are relatively straightforward, but before venturing into the land of “champagne wishes and caviar dreams”, it is wise to understand the reality of what goes on behind the scenes.
If an idea is considered a great concept and could have a major impact on an industry, caution is so emphatically advised that if it needs to be spelled out very clearly.
If the degree of caution could be gauged by “reduce speed ahead”, “yield” or “merging traffic”, when entering deep corporate waters “swim for your life and don’t look back” would be proportionally accurate.
Huge corporations, when faced with the possibility of potentially losing a large segment of their client base or even their entire company will not be gentle. A new patent which threatens their current operations will be targeted for purchase or elimination.
Imagine a seemingly endless schedule of court dates which may last years and potentially cost far more than a home.
When it comes to the nation’s largest and most successful corporations, justice is genuinely blind. Not balanced, fair or equal; blind from so many simply looking the other way.
The Cost Of Owning A Patent Vs. Potentially Keeping It
Costs associated with obtaining a patent are on the low side of roughly $1000-$2000.
This low cost is for a “do it yourself”, which includes associated patent fees, precision drawings, and a few miscellaneous expenses.
A thoroughly “back-searched against potential infringement” , “attorney retained”, “hard to overturn patent” might well be $20,000 and above.
The costs depend on the complexity of the specific patent and the potential for safeguards necessary to avoid future litigation.
If the giant ears of the big business world even hear a rumor of a potentially damaging patent, they will dispatch significant resources to make sure the patent is never achieved. Suddenly, a strikingly similar patent is being filed so quickly it flies through the system.
Even if a patent wins a close race and is awarded first, a similar patent might bring a sudden case of copyright infringement along with a mountain of legal fees.
Regardless of the merit of a case, it boils down to how much money can be allocated for long, drawn out litigation. Corporations usually have more than individual inventors.
Often the true inventor is bought out for a “nuisance fee” when faced with a high priced legal battle which might last for years.
Good news is sometimes rewarded by the fact that “nuisance”, as defined by a corporate giant, may well be “lottery” territory for many inventors.
A great invention, with strong merit worth patenting, may still turn out well for all involved.
Strong resolve by the inventor and perceived higher costs of litigation by the corporate legal assault team will sometimes result in a more fair buy out. So make sure you wear your passion on your sleeve at all times, keeping wit in your pocket as well.
International Respect For Patents
Right now there are countries who not only disrespect and ignore patent laws, but are spying on corporations and even governments in order to obtain valuable information.
The type of secrets they steal are related to technology and industry. These stolen proprietary secrets are used without any consideration for rules, regulations or laws of any nation.
Many of the largest brand names in the US have “knock-off” stores inside certain countries which literally sell exact replicas of the products. Ironically, many of the products being pirated are the ones which are being manufactured there by the same US corporations .
A major international court case involving the largest guilty country centers around a US based computer technology firm. The US corporation had one of their employees bribed by foreign government sources to sell technology secrets.
After the technology was sold to the country, they used the stolen information to obtain millions of dollars in orders from clients they stole from their corporate victim. The company who stole the technology, had a much lower selling price than the US based firm whose product they stole. Millions of dollars in US government contracts were awarded to the guilty company, despite the ongoing litigation.
It is safe to say that respect by some countries for US patents is non-existent. Of course we do not need to name names, but it is the country who hacked US government computers and stole millions of employee’s personnel files. If they have no regard or respect for an entire government, there is little to no chance of protecting a patent against countries which operate using these practices.
Enlightenment Does Not Always Take The Darkest Path
Many successful patents are awarded everyday in the US. and most are relatively uneventful.
The major three patent types are utility, design, and plant. There are a couple of schools of thought which exist for getting a patent rolling.
Some endorse the approach of seeking investment sources to help with the patent process, others feel the need to remain “top secret” and do everything with limited opportunity for limits with respect to theft of the idea.
In a perfect world of honor and solid ethics, the first concept would make the most sense.
In a world where doing the right thing may be a bit more rare than it was many years ago, the more people who know about the product and idea, the greater the chances are for loss of a patent.
If one person who finds out about a patent is sworn to secrecy and is only convinced by one other person to “spill the facts”, the information is soon more commonly known that the average rumor around the break room at the office.
It seems in the gangster movies no matter how loyal the people were to the bosses, when faced with the potential of going to jail, "no witnesses" was the order of the day.
It Is Impossible To Be The Best Without Being Different
Every leader, in all aspects of society, knows that you must do things differently than others in order to become the best.
If a patent burns with such passion that the inventor is willing to accept the worst possible outcome and move forward regardless of the circumstances - that is the “stuff’ which truly makes a difference.
Any reward worth having is one worth fighting for.
Choose those battles wisely and continue to dream on, inventors, that is what you do.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning