New inventors tend to put a great deal of focus on filing and prosecuting patents.
Not every invention is patentable, however, nor should every invention be patented. This essential fact is often overlooked.
There are three patenting options every inventor should consider:
- Choose not to file a patent
- Purchase an existing patent
- File a patent
Choose Not to File a Patent
Sometimes a detailed patent search may reveal a crowded field of many similar patented products. In such a circumstance, if a patent is issued, it would be narrowly construed and of limited commercial value. In rare circumstances there may be a large number of expired patents so the risk of infringement is minimal. In either of these scenarios, the time, effort and expense of pursuing a patent makes no sense. On the other hand, the product may not be unique enough to justify commercializing it.
Purchase an Existing Patent
Sometimes a patent search will uncover an issued patent that is quite similar to the inventor's product. Rather than giving up on the product, consider purchasing the patent from the patent holder. Many inventors set their sights on obtaining a patent only to discover that commercializing the invention was more difficult or expensive than they realized. They might be open to selling all rights to their patent for a very reasonable cost. You might be able to succeed where they could not.
Prosecute a Patent
There are many circumstances where filing and prosecuting a patent is a key strategy to commercializing an invention. If the product can be differentiated in clear ways from other inventions, it makes sense to patent it.