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Best Practices

Patent Benefits: 4 Advantages of Patenting Your IP

Patenting an invention is a long, complex, and costly process that might not seem worthwhile, especially for small businesses or entrepreneurs. However, in many cases patents offer benefits that other forms of IP protection can’t match.

1. Exclusive Use

A patent does not necessarily keep others from using your technology. However, a patent does give you the right to litigate against any third parties producing, using, or selling your invention without your permission. Generally, the threat of legal action keeps others from infringing on your patent and creates a barrier to entry into your specific market. Any business that wishes to compete directly against you must either license your patented technology or invent around your patent. Both of these options require additional resources, which not all businesses will be able or willing to invest.

2. No Need for Secrecy

Trade secrets can be beneficial in some situations. As long as it is not leaked or reverse engineered, a trade secret can last the entire lifetime of the company that holds it. The original recipe for Coca-Cola, which is more than 100 years old, is the most widely used example of a trade secret. However, keeping valuable IP a secret is not easy. It requires legal agreements and tight-lipped employees. Alternatively, patents make innovations public knowledge in exchange for exclusive rights.

3. 20 Years of Protection

This exclusive protection lasts for 20 years from the earliest priority date (for utility patents), as long as the associated maintenance fees are paid to the USPTO. After this time period, competitors can utilize the patented technology. However, the assignee is likely an established brand in the industry at this point with multiple improvements upon the original product or process.

4. Monetization Potential

Holding a patent on an innovative technology allows a company to monetize its IP. This can be done in a variety of ways, including marketing a new product, licensing the technology, or selling the patent. A patent also indirectly impacts a company’s financial position. For example, a patented product may be able to sell at a higher price because competitors are unable to offer a similar product, which affects supply and demand. Patents can also help a company attract additional funding from investors or loans.

Lastly are the benefits the patent system offers society as a whole. The advantages outlined above encourage innovation, which improves quality of life for individuals and communities beyond the companies that hold the patents.

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