An issue for many tech entrepreneurs is whether they should spend the resources (money and time) on getting a patent. Let me address the issues here why you should or should not get a patent.

Before we even get to the issues, let’s define what is eligible for a patent: to get a patent you must have an invention that covers patentable subject matter. If you are working in a technological space, like the life sciences, chemistry, engineering, computers, or something you can put in a bottle or carry on a truck, and you have an innovation that is new, the innovation probably qualifies as an invention and you can probably get a patent on it.

Here are a few reasons why you may want to get a patent:

  • At the most basic level, a patent protects your markets and your invention from competitors. If you have even a moderately successful product out on the market and you don’t have a patent, copies of your product will come onto the market. If you don’t have a patent, you really have no defense against those people. If you’ve got something that sells for $100 on Amazon, a copy of your product may sell for $90, and without a patent you may have no defense to go after those people and get them off the market.

  • A patent is an asset that’s very valuable for your business; and you can do two things with a patent. 1. You can license it, and for many people this may be extremely important. You may not want to manufacture something yourself. You can license it in any country to have it manufactured. 2. The patent is a value point when you want to value or sell your company. If you have a successful product, other parties may come along and seek to buy you out. Without a patent, you don’t have anything. A patent is more valuable than inventory, because a patent lasts for many years. With a patent, you’ve got something of value. Potential purchasers, and banks if you want a loan, can put a value on a patent.

If none of these issues is of interest to your business, then let it go. Likewise, if you don’t have a technological solution to a problem in the art, you may not be able to get a patent.

Let me be clear that just because you are working on something that may not be patentable, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea or something that will fail in the marketplace. Other forms of IP, particularly trademarks, can still confer valuable protection. Or IP protection may not be appropriate at all.

The bottom line is that if you are working in a technological space you probably want patents, for the reasons listed above.

If you want any assistance regarding any stage of patenting or have any questions, please let me know. I’m happy to give a free consultation to assess your ideas.

Andrew Berks, Ph.D., J.D.

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