Contributing Writer Cynthia Prather
To Patent or NOT to Patent; that is the question!
Are you a visionary and don’t know how to display your craft with adequate protection? If the answer is yes, you are in the same boat with millions of creative people who do not know how to legally protect ideas. The solution is simple; it’s called Intellectual Property and Asset Protection. In 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued 28,873 US & Foreign Design Patents alone. On average, the USPTO receives more than 500,000 Patent applications annually. What does this mean? Governmental agencies understand your desire/need to be identified as “Concept” originator and the value Patents, Trademark, Copyright and Infringement rights hold if commercialized.
Educating yourself about protection options is key to minimizing mistakes, so how does this translate into profit? First, the origin and theory behind Patent protection is to excludes others from making, using, or selling your idea within your term period-providing you with monetization potential. As an inventor, your idea(s) worth needs to stand on its own merit. Don’t get caught up in emotions, understand your product and consumer market, do your homework! There are three types of Patents: Design, Plant and Utility. If you are wondering what’s the difference, I won’t keep you waiting! Design Patents granted after May 2015 have a fifteen-year term and are not subject to maintenance fees. If your forte is Agriculture, a Plant Patent well do just fine. Plant Patent approvals offer twenty-year protection without a maintenance fee. On the other hand, essentially 90% of USPTO approvals are Utility Patents, which have a twenty-year term and maintenance fees are applicable. If you are serious about your idea and have completed preliminary research thru Product Development, now it’s time to pitch drawings, mocked prototypes in a controlled environment with a Non-Compete/Non-Disclosure agreement at the helm. If your service and or product has potential, the next step is to assert and or initiate claims-the more claims of uniqueness, the better! For Utility Patents, you may want to file a Provisional application notifying the USPTO of your intent to file a non-provisional Patent within the twelve-month deadline. The Patent application process can be lengthy; therefore, exercising patience will be in your best interest.
Adding an extra layer of protection around your brand is always an option. Trademark protection can offer additional coverage with regards to a company’s name, logo/symbol and words-often a phrase. If you decide to go the Trademark route and have concerns about consumers confusing your brand with a competitor, be aware of renewal fees. Okay, so you want to take your place in Literary Society as an Author, Poet, or Songwriter, consider filing Copyright privileges and know protection terms/fees vary as well.
What’s next? Your masterpiece sales are soaring through the roof! But wait, your phone rings and it’s a call from a friend stating someone else is promoting your idea as their own. What are you going to do? After confirming alleged use, you decided to contact an Infringement Attorney. Selecting a well-versed infringement Attorney can restore ownership rights in a civil and ethical fashion. Make sure your Attorney of choice has years of experience and can enforce laws in earnest. Fighting infringement can be costly in access of $250,000; consequently, you don’t want to waste time and or money-be sure you want to move forward with a lawsuit.
Nonetheless, protecting novel ideas with (value) is an essential key component while building your brand. Here’s a newsflash, for years, unique, innovative ideas were launched without consideration surrounding Intellectual Property and Asset protection; hence, people found themselves in litigation over ownership rights. Since Patents can be labeled as a depreciated asset and expensed, partnering with a creditable professional team who has a niche to service you through the filing process can fortify needed coverage.
As an Inventor and Entrepreneur, I understand how frustrating it can be maneuvering through protection uncertainty. What became my best friend in this arena of Intellectual Property and Asset Protection was; Kinetic Learning, plain and simple hands-on experience. Getting involved in every aspect of the process provided parallel insight when it came to contract negotiations, expansion and etc. If you build a solid level of protection around your showcased talent, you can increase monetary worth; isn’t that the ultimate goal! What I’ve learned in this business is; Great appreciated ideas deserve great Intellectual Property and Asset Protection!
Believing in yourself at any age can yield rewards! Converting a hobby from pleasure into treasure while adding a layer of protection around your respected idea can increase profit margin; now isn’t that worth pondering!
By: Cynthia D. Prather