If you’re an inventor or innovator and feel that you have made a product that could better the world (not to mention make you a lot of money), then this is probably old news: you’ve got a potential jewel in your hands and you need to protect it. True enough, your invention (by international law) is automatically yours, and you alone should be able to gain from the proceeds such an invention or innovation may deliver. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way.
You’ve invented a better sponge or detergent. You’ve created a software programme that predicts the stock market with 90% accuracy. You’ve made something, and it works – it doesn’t matter what it is, sooner or later the sharks are going to start calling and if they can, they will steal your invention or innovation and make it their own. It’s time to protect yourself.
You already have the right
Here’s the good news: as soon as you have created something new, it is considered your own personal intellectual property by law – so, even from conception (even before you even write it down) your idea is your own and nobody has the right to use it without your explicit permission.
This is just as true for an idea, a poem, a piece of prose, a scientific invention, or a computer programme. Whatever it is, if you developed or invented it, it’s yours. The problem is that you may have to prove that it is yours, and that’s where the negative right comes in.
You need the negative right
Patents ensure a negative right – meaning that patents ensure that nobody else has the right to use your ideas or products without your permission. More importantly, patents ensure that you have the means to prove that the idea or product is in fact your property.
It costs money and time
It will cost some money and it will take some time, so don’t expect the patent registration to flow gently. Consider it an investment that will pay off in time. If you want to have a better idea of what your investment may be, you can have a patent attorney check through a patent cost estimator.
Study your invention
Document it as much as possible. Put it down on paper.
Getting a patent is great, but you need to understand what the costs (both financial and in terms of time) are going to be. Getting a patent is only useful if you truly have something original and – perhaps more importantly – something with a great deal of market value. Perhaps the greatest value of the patent is that it makes your invention legal, and therefore a legal commodity. A patent ensures it becomes legally real. It gives it weight. It gives the inventor recognition and potential gain.
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