How can small-business owners patent a great idea?

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Instead of letting someone else run away with your great idea and make their millions, one needs to learn to protect their ideas from the beginning. It has been a proven fact throughout history that innovative and ingenious ideas have been copied, or out-and-out stolen. Like Guglielmo Marconi has been credited with inventing the radio, even though it was invented by Nikola Tesla. That is not all. Robert Fulton stole the idea for the steamboat engine from John Fitch. Clarence patented “Monopoly”1930s, even though it was invented by Lizzie Magie in the year 1903. Even Apple has been blamed of stealing ideas from Microsoft, Google and Samsung. These days it’s easy for a business owner to protect a great idea.

One of the best ways to do so is by applying for a patent. So, instead of letting someone hijack your idea, it is important to protect it right from the word go.

What is a patent?

A patent is a limited duration property right that is relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for a public disclosure of the invention.

The patentable materials include manufactured articles, machines, industrial processes, and chemical compositions. The duration of patent protection depends on the type of patent that is granted:

There are three types of patents that can be issued:
a. The utility patents are granted to anyone who invents a new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture or a composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.
b. The design patents are given to the inventors of new, original and ornamental designs for an article of manufacture.
c. The plant patents are granted to anybody who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinctive and new variety of plant.

The fact that one cannot technically patent a business idea, like a niche online jewellery store or a new chain of themed spas. One can, however, patent the method of doing business.

Moreover, one must be aware that patents are publicly disclosed and that the USPTO doesn’t enforce patents after they are issued — this responsibility is with the patent holders.

Lastly, a patent is not a trademark, service mark or copyright. Most essentially, it’s recommended that one must seek a legal counsel and advice when applying for a patent. Since patents are diverse and complex one may end-up spending too much time and money their patent, along with losing one’s valuable ideas, if you don’t properly complete the procedure.

How can a patent benefit a business?

Before one starts researching and hiring lawyers, ensure that a patent is the right decision or the right time, for the business.
A new business must:
a. Make the product
b. Get some sales
c. Ensure that your ideas are liked
d. And then get a patent.

If you follow the above given advice and you are eligible to apply for a patent, then the patent will provide you and your investors a sense of security.

A patent can even assist one with negotiating a good deal for your idea if you ever want to sell the invention or process to another company.
Most essentially, a patent allows one to take legal action against any entity who tries to steal your intellectual property.

How can one patent a great idea?

If one is positive that their idea falls within the definitions and requirements needed to apply for a patent, and you have made sure that there aren’t any other previously filed patents, then the time is right to apply for your patent.

When applying for a patent one is required disclose the nature of the invention. One will also need to provide a detailed written description and also be needed to submit drawings or renderings.

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A lawyer with 14 years' experience, Vikram has worked with several well-known corporate law firms before joining Vakilsearch.

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