6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Patents

Definition, advantages & disadvantages, types of patents, should you apply, and how to patent your innovation.


What is a patent?

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a government to an inventor for a fixed period in exchange for the disclosure of an invention.

Exclusive rights given by a patent include manufacturing, importing, using, or selling the invention.

Three basic criteria for patentability are novelty, utility, and inventiveness.

Advantages

  1. It creates barriers to entry and protection against copying, selling, manufacturing, or importing the invention without permission.

  2. Additional revenue from licensing or selling the rights.

  3. Higher profit margins because the creator has control of the market.

  4. Credibility; A patent provides credibility to both the inventor and her company.

  5. Limits and prevents competitors from improving their product.

  6. Investment Opportunity; Businesses that hold patents have a better chance of attracting funding from investors.

Disadvantages

  1. Time-consuming and Complex; Markets may change, or technology may overtake your invention by the time you get a patent.

  2. Costly to Obtain; The application, searches for existing patents, a patent attorney's fees, and ongoing fees can all contribute to a significant outlay.

  3. Limited Protection;Because patents are territorial, protection only extends to the territory in which the patent is filed.

  4. Costly to Defend;Monitoring the market and taking action against an infringer can be very costly.

  5. Public Disclosure;Details of the invention are publicly disclosed. Competitors may expand on or replicate the innovation.

  6. Potential Lawsuits;Competitors may file lawsuits to revoke or challenge the patent. Patent protection is limited to the extent that the inventor is willing to enforce it.

Should you file for a patent?

Value

Not all patents have financial value. The potential for making a profit should outweigh the time and money it takes to get and maintain a patent.

Unique and Essential

If competitors can achieve the same results by other methods, it is not economically feasible to file a patent.

Types of Patents

In several countries, including the United States, different types of patents exist. Two main types are utility patents and design patents.

In Canada and the United Kingdom, however, patents only apply to inventions. Designs can be protected by industrial designs, registered designs, or trademarks.

How to protect the invention in several countries?

  • Direct
    You can directly file separate patent applications at the same time in all of the countries in which you would like to protect your invention.

  • Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
    You can file under the PCT which is valid in 153 countries, therefore, simpler, and more cost-effective than direct filing.