Should I patent my idea?
Answering a common question amongst inventors: should I patent my idea?
Protecting your idea - otherwise known as intellectual property - is very important but can also be incredibly expensive and time consuming; with patents typically taking at least 4 years to complete. Here, with this in mind, we’ll answer the question: should I patent my idea?
The cost to patent an idea
A patent is a legal document and should always be created by a patent attorney to ensure it’s airtight - creating a patent yourself, although much cheaper, carries with it a lot of risk, particularly if someone tries to circumvent your claims.
The very simplest UK patent for a product design is typically in excess of £1000, full European patents can average £30,000, and worldwide protection only increases costs further - excluding ongoing maintenance costs for all patents.
The importance of prototype design
If you decide securing a patent is the best solution for your invention then prototype design is a crucial stage of the idea to product journey - enabling you to include all necessary details associated with the design within your patent application.
At this stage - known as prototype development - the design is likely to change, evolve and improve considerably, rendering an early patent application obsolete.
Documenting your invention idea
If you are from the UK, you will be automatically covered by Design Right as soon as you create your ideas, and you must document the process of idea to product as you go as a way of protecting your intellectual property.
However, if your goal is to sell or licence your invention idea to any third parties then a patent is likely to be key.
Where this is the case, there are certain steps you’ll need to take and things you’ll need to consider in order to successfully complete a patent application, including:
Conduct a patent search
Patents are only granted to inventions that are new and innovative, and provide you with the right to exclusively make, use and sell your invention for a specific period of time.
Therefore, conducting a patent search will help you to understand the current market and whether anything already exists that’s similar to your invention idea or shares similar part; helping you, as an inventor, save time and money, and successfully achieve a patent.
Should a patent search come back with anything similar to your invention idea, this will help you innovate and explore other product design options; improving mechanisms or ergonomics.
Product patent idea legal infringement
When considering should I patent my idea? It’s important to think of all eventualities, one of them being the possibility of product patent idea legal infringement.
Should you find yourself in a situation such as this, the costs of a legal battle are likely to exceed the costs of a patent application with no guarantees of success.
Large corporations have the resources to fight these battles but small companies like start up businesses and SMEs, as well as individual inventors are unlikely to be able to compete with a corporation’s resources.
Owning a patent acts as a warning and enables you to fight any legal battles you wish or need to.
Product launching - be the first to market
There is a good argument for investing the time, effort and money you would have put into a patent application on getting your product designed, developed, and on the market before anyone else.
Establishing your product or brand as the original and best can often be of greater value than getting a patent.
Once established, the money generated from sales can be used on further developments and product design improvements, enabling the product to be properly patented and funded.
It's important to note that, whilst your product is being sold, any competitors will be unable to patent an idea that is already existing, being sold or has been made public, but you should always ensure you can prove the idea and/or product design was originally yours.
Once your idea hits the market don’t just sit back. By being the first past the post and constantly developing and innovating can enable you to stay ahead of the curve. Whilst your competitor is figuring out how to compete with your product you can already be developing the next version.
All projects are different and warrant differing IP strategies. Officially registering your design with the IPO office may be enough. To find out the best route for your design get in touch with Idea Reality.
Contact us now to discuss your project and arrange a free consultation meeting.
This is an informative article only. The above is the opinion of Idea Reality Ltd and is not to be used without proper professional advice taking into account individual project circumstances.