Rather than allowing someone else to profit from your brilliant concept, one should learn to safeguard their ideas from the start.
It has been a proven fact throughout history that innovative and ingenious ideas have been copied, or out-and-out stolen. Even though Nikola Tesla invented the radio, Guglielmo Marconi has been attributed with inventing it. But that’s not all. John Fitch gave Robert Fulton the idea for the steamboat engine. Despite the fact that Lizzie Magie invented ‘Monopoly’ in 1903, Clarence patented it in the 1930s. Microsoft, Google, and Samsung have all been accused of stealing ideas from Apple. It’s rather simple for a business owner to protect a wonderful concept these days.
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.
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 (business owner) is granted.
There are three types of patents that can be issued:
- 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
- The design patent is given to the inventors of new, original, and ornamental designs for an article of manufacture
- 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 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 on their patent, along with losing one’s valuable ideas, if you don’t properly complete the procedure.
How Can a Patent Benefit a Business/Business Owner?
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:
- Make the product
- Get some sales
- Make sure your ideas are well-liked before applying for 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 with 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 that tries to steal your intellectual property.
Another reason to consider the patent application is that holding patents boosts an undertaking’s prospective value. They are assets that appreciate value over time and raise a company’s book value, making it more appealing. It’s also possible to sell it to a consumer. It can be licenced to other interested parties for a percentage of their future sales. Patents will, in any event, open up new revenue streams and improve a company’s financial stability.
Patents, trademarks, and copyrights work together to safeguard your company’s financial and intellectual assets. Proper research and application of these instruments can help to ensure future budgetary success and growth. There’s no excuse not to file for a patent now that the process is becoming more convenient.
How Can a Business Owner Patent a Great Idea?
It’s a smart idea to file for a patent for a business owner:
- If you’re confident that their idea meets the standards and requirements for a patent, and
- You’ve checked to see if there are any other patents that have already been submitted.
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 on top of renewals. We recommend the business owner 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.