5 Reasons NOT to Get a Patent

Why Not to Get a Patent

I like patents.  Let me start off saying that when used correctly, a strong patent can be the most valuable part of your invention’s value.

The trouble is that almost everyone gets it wrong.  If fact the USPTO estimates that less than 1% of patents ever become commercially viable products.  How is this possible?  Here are five reasons to not get a patent:

1.  FEAR:   Many people with a new ideas rush to get a patent simply because they don’t know what else to do.  If you have the resources it’s easier to pay someone to protect your fledgeling idea than it is to learn if it has any commercial merit.  There is no reason to protect an idea before you know how or if that idea can pay you back.

2.  EGO:   For reasons I don’t agree with, our society places undue awe on the “mystical power” of having a patent issued in your name.  The error here is that respect is given without regard to commercial success or even quality of the protection.  The layperson and the novice inventor don’t understand the distinction and spend over $100 million a year on patents with no commercial value.  Perhaps if patent frames came with cutouts for “cost of patent” and “revenue from patent” people would do more research earlier .  You can buy much better looking art for $10,000.

3.  HOPE:   People think that if you get a patent issued, companies will find you and give you lots of money.  I call it the Kevin Costner school of inventing.  Even if you have an issued patent for your great idea you still need to learn how to approach the right person at the right company at the right time.

PROTECTION:  People assume that having a patent issued will stop others from infringing on your idea.  The truth is that it’s up to you to stop them and the way you do that is by taking them to court.  Better get out your checkbook…  The costs range from $650,000 to upwards of $5 million for a patent lawsuit.  Your patent is only as strong as your ability to protect it.

LICENSING:  If you are hoping to licensing your idea to another company to bring to market, make sure you understand the industry before you apply for a patent.  Less than 1% of all products sold have patent protection, and many industries don’t bother with them.  Other companies would rather have their own patent attorneys draft the patent so they can customize the all important claims, perhaps including the final manufacturing process for the product.

Of course you want to make money from your ideas and the thought of someone stealing your idea is too much to bear.  So what should you do?

Provisional Patent Applications can give most inventors who are seeking to license all the protection you really need.  At a 1/100th the cost of a utility patent you get to claim patent pending while you polish and pitch your concept, and still secure the all important first-to-file date.  Sure you only have a year to file a full utility patent, but that should be plenty of time to find your licensing company and let them pay for the patent in your name.

Learn how to invent.  It’s amazing how many people are willing to pay thousands for a potentially useless patent, but won’t spend a dime to learn how others have successfully done what they are trying to do.  Join the United Inventors Association, find a local inventors club, or watch some free, high content Inventors Blueprint training videos.

Get to market fast.  I like to imagine that for every good idea I have, at least 50 other people have the same solution.  All good ideas have a window of opportunity, and your job is to beat everyone else to the finish line before that window closes.

When should you file a patent?  Generally speaking if you are bringing the product to market yourself AND you have clear proof that there is a demand for your product AND you can see that the protection granted will bring you more revenue than it will cost you.

So get a patent if you determine there’s more value in having one, than the cost to get one.  And not a minute before that.

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  1. Posted by Ryan Grepper, at Reply

    What do you think? Post a comment and let us know other reasons you should or shouldn’t get a patent.

  2. Posted by Wendy, at Reply

    Hi Ryan,

    Many thanks for the great suggestions, I am just nearing the development of two “first” products and have decided to go with your idea. Makes such sense. Keep up the good work.

  3. Posted by Anonymous, at Reply

    I have found that getting licenees interested in your ideas is not as easy as people make it sound. My 1 year PPA was going to expire. I opted to apply for the utlity to keep it alove. Many companies I approached have taken months to decide and let me know if they interested or not.
    Time will tell if it was a good choice or not. I have found that licensees like that you have applied for a patent.

    • Posted by Ryan Grepper, at Reply

      You make a good point that some companies can take months to decide to move forward, and that many companies do appreciate that you have a full utility filed on your idea. The problem is that most companies won’t reimburse you for the patent costs, which can really cut into the whole “profitability thing” on licensing your invention.
      If you have a patent, or a utility patent pending, make sure to use the costs to negotiate for a bigger licensing fee.
      Did you come up with any changes or improvements in the first year? If so, you can file another PPA. This does move your first-to-file date back however, as the utility can only reference PPAs within one year of the utility filing.

  4. Posted by Gambler, at Reply

    Patent is an important part of your discovery.Thanks for your suggestions.It would prove extremely important to the readers.

  5. Posted by damon, at Reply

    I need some help in considering what type of market my idea should be exposed to

  6. Posted by Quentin, at Reply

    Thanks for alternative level headed info, been through dozens of sites.
    Still a little more background patent searching to go but looking good so far.
    Think ultimately I’ll just settle with a provisional all being good and give it a 12 month shot to sell outright or chuk it .
    Found when trying to previously sell a trademark, still owned by me and the ex that companies tend to ignore you or not take you seriously if your an individual, so next step on the mark is to register myself as a business and get back out ,, give it a go again.
    Thanks again.