5 Reasons to Apply for a Patent
Most of us know how to play the board game Monopoly. However, what most of us do know is the history of Monopoly. Monopoly was designed by a Quaker named Lizzie Magie in 1903 and was originally entitled “The Landlord’s Game”. In the 1930s, an unemployed heater salesman named Charles Darrow played The Landlord’s Game at a friend’s house one night after dinner where he obtained a copy of the rules. Darrow filed a patent application for “Monopoly” using the stolen concept and rules of The Landlord’s Game and received a patent in 1935, which was acquired by Parker Brothers. Darrow became the first millionaire game designer in history by using a stolen idea. Do you have an invention that you would like to market but are afraid someone might steal your idea? If so, here are five reasons why you should apply for a patent.
1. Patents are among the most valuable types of intellectual property.
Intellectual Property (“IP”) is a work or invention that is the result of creativity. More specifically, IP includes intangible creations where human intellect is used a category of property, namely inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides for the right to benefit from the protection of moral and material interests resulting from authorship of scientific, literary or artistic productions (i.e., patents, copyrights, industrial design rights, plant varieties, trademarks trade dress and trade secrets). Essentially, IP rights allow creators and owners to benefit from their own work (or investment) in a creation. While a patent is only one form of IP, it is arguably among the most valuable, especially when considering the exclusionary right that is afforded by patent protection.
2. If you patent your invention, you can exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling your invention.
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right by a national patent office (or by a regional office that exams patent work for a group of countries) for a limited term, generally 20 years from the date on which the patent application was filed. The right conferred by the patent grant is the right to exclude others from
· offering for sale; or
· selling your invention.
Patent rights can be enforced in courts that have the authority to stop patent infringement. So, if you have an issued patent for an invention and someone makes, uses, offers for sale, or sells your invention, without your consent, you can sue the person (a/k/a an infringer) in court to seek an injunction and for damages (and in some cases of willfulness infringement, triple damages).
In other words, the exclusionary right that is conferred by the grant of a patent serves to protect the patent owner against patent infringement since a patented invention cannot be commercially made, used, offered for sale, distributed or sold during the term of the patent without the patent owner’s consent.
3. Patents can be used to identify and develop new brands, maintain present markets or create new ones.
The exclusionary right of patent protection reduces competition, which would help you establish a preeminent position in the market. So, you could realize a strong market position with your patent since patent owners are able to prevent others from commercially using a patented invention during its term. Accordingly, during the term of your patent, you would be able to
· identify and develop new brands
· maintain present markets; or
· create new markets
because you have greatly reduced or eliminated the competition.
You will also enrich the marketplace as all patent owners are obliged to publicly disclose information on their inventions in exchange for their exclusionary right. Moreover, the total body of technical knowledge that is available to the public is increased through public disclosure and our lives are subsequently enriched because the disclosure promotes further creativity and innovation by others. So, you are essentially giving back to society (which has to be a great feeling) once your patent term ends as others will no longer be excluded from making, using, offering for sale, or selling your invention.
4. Patents can be used to generate new income streams.
Did you know that you can create several streams of income from issued patents? In fact, if you own patents you can tap into their value in several different ways, such as:
· through your own business processes by providing goods and services to customers;
· licensing your technology to others (When a patent owner grants a license to others, the patent owner receives patent royalties, which can be very lucrative if negotiated properly.); or
· selling the patents (Remember, patents are property, so they can be sold too!).
Additionally, patents can greatly increase the value of your business if you ever decide to sell your business because an issued patent tends to create a positive image for your organization as potential business partners, investors and shareholders typically perceive patent portfolios as demonstrative of a high level of expertise, specialization and technological capacity within an organization, which could prove useful if you want to
· raise funds;
· find business partners;
· raise your organization's market value; or
· attract investors to help your business grow.
5. Patents can be used to create a business presence in several countries.
Is there a market for your invention in other countries? If so, you should be mindful that a patent only protects an invention in one country or region.
For example, if you receive patent protection in the United States, your invention will not be protected in other countries. Hence, others will be able to make, use, offer for sale, or sell your invention outside of the United States.
If your organization has potential competitors, customers or collaborators abroad, filing international patents can be used to create a business presence in several countries without incurring a large expenditure on brick and mortar entities by using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (the “PCT”). You can protect your invention around the world using the PCT. Filing PCT applications is cost efficient because you can apply for protection in over 140 countries through one centralized application process, which has the same effect as filing multiple patent applications at the same time. This strategy for your patent portfolio also has other advantages, namely:
· creates an exclusive market share for your technology in other countries;
· prevents competitors from copying or stealing your technology in other countries; and
· you have the ability to market and license your invention to a wider market.
DON’T’ BE A LIZZIE MAGIE
For many years, the United States awarded the patent to the applicant who could prove that he or she created the invention first. However, the U.S. currently awards the patent to the applicant who files the patent application first.
Have you ever heard the phrase great minds think alike? You should consider the fact someone may have the same idea for an invention as yours. So, you may ask, “If two inventors have the same idea for an invention, who gets the patent?” Answer: the person who files first. It is also important that you file your patent application as soon as possible before you disclose anything, demonstrate your invention publicly or offer it for sale.
So, if you have an invention don’t be a Lizzie Magie and let a Charles Darrow come along and steal your invention by applying for a patent before you do AND get rich from doing so.
Keep in mind that U.S. patent law grants an exclusive monopoly to owners of valid patents. Don’t you think that YOU deserve to have that “Monopoly” on your ideas and inventions. If you wait to file, you may forever lose the ability to obtain a patent. Are you willing to take that risk?
Ahaji Amos is patent and trademark attorney with 17 years of experience in intellectual property litigation and prosecution at Ahaji Amos, PLLC, a law firm that represents startup and small businesses in all matters including patent prosecution, trademark prosecution, copyrights, trade secrets, oppositions, cancelations, equity funding and commercial litigation. Ahaji Amos, PLLC is dedicated to representing entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators.
This article is for information and advertising purposes and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed in the absence of a fully written and executed engagement agreement between Ahaji Amos, PLLC and its clients. Ahaji Amos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at https://ahajiamos.com.
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