Patents are the ultimate protection for an innovation or process you’ve created because they guard against duplicators and competitors. But, the patent process can be costly and long, spanning anywhere from 18 months to several years and thousands of dollars in fees. Even though there are some downside to the patenting process, working with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to secure your invention can provide a lot of perks in comparison to taking your product to market without a patent.
Patents Prevent Knock-offs and Duplicates
If you think your product might be sold, a patent can help ward off competitors. An approved patent gives you the ability to legally shut down anyone who is attempting to produce and sell your item. This means you can protect the integrity of your invention — that is, not having to worry about consumers buying knock-offs or fakes. But, a patent can also help keep funds going to the right place, meaning competitors can be shut down and customers can only buy your product from you.
Patents Can Delay Generics and Off-Brand Replicas
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can determine how long a patent will protect your invention — in some cases up to 20 years! But even in shorter spans of time, you can use patents to dominate the market with your product and delay other companies from jumping on the bandwagon. Even if only for a short time, this allows you to market your product first, establish your brand or company, and potentially make more money.
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Patents Can Help Claim Your Spot in History
The world is a big place with many problems — and a lot of people working to fix them. It’s not uncommon for two or more people to think up the same idea at the same time. Take for example Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray, who both claim to have created the telephone. In the U.S., recent patent law has changed to acknowledge an inventor as the person who filed a patent application first, as opposed to when the item was created. In this case, if you quickly file your invention or process, you could go down in history as its original creator.
Patents Can Help You Generate Income
Many people who file patents believe they have an item that’s worth protection because it’s valuable and can make money. But, it’s important to know lots of people file patents that aren’t financially beneficial at all; in some cases, you can spend more money on the application process and prototypes than what the item would have generated. It’s estimated that only 2% to 10% of patented items actually bring in profits. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still consider patenting if you think your product is a game changer. If your item attracts interest, there’s several ways to make money. In some cases, inventors will license rights to other inventors or companies, and reap the royalties that come in. One such idea is to license your invention to a manufacturer who can produce and sell your invention. This ensures your problem-solving item can still make it to market and you’ll make money, but without the stress or financial burden of launching the product on your own. In other situations, you can sell your patent outright, which can create a windfall of money. Some inventors choose this route for a quick return on their smart thinking, which can also help them recoup the cost of patenting.
The patenting process can offer a lot of benefits depending on how you plan to use it. Some inventors seek out patents as a way to launch manufacturing without fear of competitors, while other patent seekers are just savvy individuals who know that creating a product or solving a problem can put their budgets in the black. Whichever route you choose, patent protections can help safeguard your innovative ideas.