Let’s start with a simple understanding. If you have even the slightest suspicion that you want to patent a product, you need to hire and get legal advice from a patent lawyer or a patent agent. This blog is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer or your agent. I am not providing you with any legal advice, representation, or counsel. You and I have no attorney-client relationship. The purpose of this blog is to introduce you to the vocabulary that you will need when you got to a patent attorney and ask him to help you patent your product.
People patent products for essentially 3 reasons:
- Validation – Many people view having a patent on a product as a validation that the product is a significant contribution to the state of the art in the are of the product that they are patenting. I don’t ever argue with people who want patents for that reason. When the government grants you a patent on your product, many people see the patent as an official pronouncement that the product appears to be useful, appears to be novel, and appears to be a non-obvious improvement. An inventor that I know, who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, has a plaque on the wall of his study with the numbers of his patents on the products that his company sells. He is justifiably proud of the patents on his products, and a patent serves as a celebration of the products on which he has received patents.
- Market Value – Many people believe that patented products have higher value than non-patented products. The holders of this belief range from consumers, who see the patent as a form of proof that serious scientific and engineering thought went into the product to venture capitalists, who don’t want to get involved in a business that has no inherent barrier to entry. Either of those may be a perfectly legitimate business reason to patent a product, depending on your particular market.
- The right to exclude – The main reason to get a patent is to get the legal right to prevent others from making or using the product on which you get a patent. Before you spend the money to get your product from development to production, you need to be sure that you have the exclusive right to make and use the product that you seek to patent. Essentially, you don’t want to spend all of the time and money developing your product, only to have some rip-off artist start selling the same or a similar product at a lower cost because the rip-off artist has no research and development costs.
When you successfully patent a product, the government grants you a right to stop others in the United States from making, using or importing into the United States without your permission. When you patent your product, you buy for yourself the right to go to court and demand that a judge stop others from making the product on which you have a patent. When you patent your product, you buy for yourself the right to go to court and demand that the customs service seize at the border the product on which you have a patent. When you patent your product, you buy for yourself the right to go to court and demand that a judge stop others from using the product on which you have a patent unless those people have your consent.
Remember: This blog is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer or your agent. I am not providing you with any legal advice, representation, or counsel.