How Can Small-business Owners Patent a Great Idea?

Last Updated at: Jul 06, 2021
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How can small-business owners patent a great idea?
As per law, only inventions can be patented. But there is no express mention in The Patent Act 1970 that ideas can or cannot be patented. To get a patent, the invention needs to be novel, industrially useful, and non-obvious to a person skilled in the art.

 

On 3rd of March, 2020, Facebook has recently got the India patent for an invention to provide universal support to cell phones. It will allow Facebook to support a wide range of mobile phones without compromising on the quality of service. This patent was issued from the IPO, Chennai.

 

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 for 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 public disclosure of the invention.

Patent Your Innovation Right Now

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

There are three types of patents that can be issued:

  1. The utility patents are granted to anyone who invents a new and useful process, the machine, article of manufacture or a composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.
  2. The design patent is given to the inventors of new, original and ornamental designs for an article of manufacture.
  3. 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 a right decision or the right time, for the business.

A new business must:

  1. Make the product
  2. Get some sales
  3. Ensure that your ideas are liked
  4. 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.

Value Accrual

Another justification to consider patent filing is that keeping patents also increases the potential value of an undertaking. They are assets that also increase value over time and increase the book value of a business, which makes it more appealing. You can also sell it to your customer. It can be licensed for a percentage of their potential sales to other interested parties. Patents will, in any case, open up new avenues of profiting and add to the financial stability of a business.

In order to protect your business ‘ financial and intellectual resources the patents, trademarks and copyrights cooperate. Proper research and use of these instruments can contribute to continued fiscal success and encourage growth in the future. With the process of getting a patent becoming ever more convenient, there is no reason to not apply for one.

How can one patent a great idea?

It is a good time to apply for a patent

  • If you are positive that their idea falls within the definitions and requirements needed to apply for a patent; and
  • after making sure that there aren’t any other previously filed patents.

One should disclose the nature of the invention when applying for a patent. One should also provide a detailed written description and must submit drawings or renderings.

Other ways to protect your ideas

  • You can add patent and design numbers later, but you need to remain-top of renewals. e recommend you to not forget to pay renewal fees to ensure the continued security of designs, trademarks and patents. If the companies fail to pay on time, registered rights will expire.
  • Documenting them all. Experts recommend that companies keep track of every conversation you have regarding your idea via email.
  • Asking people to have NDAs signed. Ask them to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before you share your thoughts with someone else. This is applicable even if it is a friend or employee. It may be difficult to ask, but in the end, it will shield you from theft.
  • Ask workers or collaborators to sign NCAs. A Non-Compete Agreement will prevent employees and contractors from launching a competing business within a specified timeframe.
  • Build an IP culture. Experts are suggesting that the company create an IP awareness program around the organization to ensure that all workers know the importance of the IP and the issues related to it.  You can be responsible for the registration, security and maximization of IP for one person in the company or you can assign that role to an IP expert.
  • File a patent-pending. You can file a PPA for a minimal fee. Within a year, this will safeguard the project, giving you time to raise money or validate the concept.

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