If you have invented something, the chances are that you don’t have the resources to mass-produce the product yourself. You will need to send the plans and designs off to someone else to make in their factory. When you do this, how can you protect your idea against the people that might see it? The answer is patent registration. This tactic will give you the exclusive right to profit from your invention.
A patent gives you the exclusive right to profit from an invention for a set number of years. If anyone else tries to sell something that is covered by your patent, you will have the legal right to make them either pay you a license fee or stop. Each patent has a number. You have probably seen this on any number of products. Patent pending means that a patent has been applied for but not yet granted. Your invention must qualify before you get a patent. Not all inventions can be covered by patents. Check that your invention meets the following criteria.
Is it new and secret? You can not have showed your invention publicly before you apply for a patent. Whatever you do, do not take your invention around and demonstrate it before you think about patents. Is it obvious? Your invention must not be something that would be obvious to experience in your chosen industry. You cannot apply for a patent for a scientific or mathematical theory, or method. A work of art books, plays, and computer programs, a way of doing things or business method are also not elligible for patent. Many of these are covered by copyright. Patents are intended for actual physical inventions.
You need to apply at a patent office in your country. There are also patent agencies for larger areas, such as the European Patent Office or ultimately the World Intellectual Property Organization. It is best to get a lawyer to guide you through this and make them sign a non-disclosure agreement. Depending on your country, applying for a patent can either be absurdly cheap or really expensive. You should note that if your patent application is refused at any stage, you won’t be getting your fees back. You can usually apply again, if you want to pay again.
If you have looked at the prices, you might be wondering: what is the worst thing that could possible happen to me if I didn’t get a patent? The only answer to this is that anyone, to whom you happen to explain your idea or product, can steal it. In this situation, you won’t be able to do a thing about it.
Once your invention does come on the market, success will attract many imitators. They will probably be able to produce your invention cheaper by sacrificing quality. A patent gives you protection in the marketplace for your home business against competitors.
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