Here we have another guest post! Check out the ideas below if you are considering patenting the next big phenomena. It might not be in your best interest to do so.
What to Consider Before Pursuing a Patent on Your Great Idea
You have an idea: a product, service, or process that solves a common, if not universal problem.
You study the issue, design your concept, conduct market research, solicit user input, and develop a supply-chain process. At this point, many people take initial steps in effort to protect their concepts. For example, microelectronic manufacturers often protect proprietary photochemical metal etched parts by partnering with a product patent attorney. However, patent pursuit can often cost a significant amount of money, loss of first-to-market opportunity, and ultimately fail against the tidal wave of creative destruction. Here are a few points to consider before pursuing the patent process.
Cost of Patenting Your Idea
Standard costs for a patent lawyer’s time, idea formulation, drafted illustrations, and submission are around $25,000. The process can be cheaper, but with less concept real estate and thus greater competitive vulnerability. A good patent lawyer will press the concept boundaries of your idea to the extent that your patent begins to infringe on the ideas and concepts of others. This results in a rejection of the first submission, requiring re-submission costs. This is part of the reason why the 2017 toy phenomenon, the Fidget Spinner, was not patented. The cost associated with attempting to secure original creative idea concept would likely fail while still costing the original manufacturer substantially.
Loss of Time Patenting Your Idea
Unless a concept is utterly novel, complex, with obvious unparalleled differentiation, and a strong existing market, the loss of time involved in patenting can cost you first-to-market profits. Many companies have technically and mechanically trained staff whose only job is to reverse engineer systems, products, and processes in order to develop a substitute different enough to avoid patent infringement. Getting your idea to market quickly and being the first to file is important in securing a patent, especially in the area of physical products. Consider the silly band craze a few years ago. The concept was original and creative but challenging to defend against and easy to duplicate. This is why the designer was better served rushing to be first to market.
Creative Destruction of Your Idea
Global innovation and broad technological adaptation have resulted in a higher pace of change. Joseph Schumpeter called this process of idea improvement and replacement “creative destruction.” Your unique idea today can and will be improved upon substantially by people in other countries speaking other languages, sometimes overnight. A product or service you have worked years to patent can be rendered obsolete before final patent approval has been secured. Collaboration and creation are not at odds with competition, but competition is a threat to any idea you bring to market. Some may think it is better just to sit on the idea until the patent process is complete. However, the speed at which ideas change and are exchanged, and the platforms for collaborative idea development, mean that even if nobody has thought of your product or idea yet, the odds are someone will.
Make sure your concept has a substantial market. Collaborate with people in the industries where your concept will be adapted. Work toward market launch and early adaptation. And make sure the added time and cost involved warrant patent filing. Otherwise, the overhead costs, the loss of time, and the power of creative destruction may mean your idea becomes another innovator’s cash cow. For all of these reasons, some inventors and innovators chose not to patent their idea at all. It is certainly something you need to consider. Gone are the days of patenting every idea by default. Instead, you must consider how all of these factors will come together and influence both your bottom line and the potential for intellectual property theft, weighed against the time and expense of obtaining a patent.