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Obtaining a patent is worth your time

When developing and marketing a new product or implementing a new method or process, nothing in the law requires the developer to apply for patent protection in order to continue those activities.

A common question people who develop new things is "Do I really need to pursue getting a patent?" That question might be answered with the question, "Are you comfortable with a competitor selling the same product as you?" Without obtaining a patent, there is essentially no basis for an inventor to prevent others from copying and selling the same product or service.

One truism is that it is much more likely that someone would want to copy a successful product than an unsuccessful product, but the eventual success of a product can be difficult to predict within the time frame that the law allows for applying for a patent after the product has first been publicly disclosed. Failing to file for patent protection in a timely manner virtually assures the inventor that the idea will be open to copying by others.

Another positive aspect of applying for patent protection may come into play if an inventor desires to license or sell the concept. It is rare that a bare idea is licensed or sold to another without some form of intellectual property protection being in place or in process for the idea. Why would a potential licensee or buyer generally pay an inventor for rights to a concept that anyone in the general public is free to copy without any legal barrier?

Of course the decision to pursue patent protection is not as simple as merely wanting to avoid competition. There is expense involved in pursuing a patent, and filing a patent application does not guarantee that a patent will be granted.

April 01, 2019

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