What You Should Know About Patents

By Dr. Vernon Brahma

The patent system, as it applies to individuals, has gotten completely
out of hand. Most product creators, reinforced by the media, put a false
importance and status to the power of the “almighty patent”. Due to this
myopic perception, people waste money at the rate of well over $100
million every year. Why are patents overvalued in the minds of the
public? One reason is because we have been brought up to feel that a
patent gave to the patent holder a special prestige, an Edison-like
aura. Today, many inventors’ groups and trade publications, mistakenly
or not, also encourage innovators to seek a patent attorney before they
do anything with their idea.

According to the U.S. Patent Office, 88,793 patents were issued in 1987.
Of those only 8% would ever go into commercial production and only 5%
would ever make money for the inventor. Although these figures were from
almost a decade ago it would be safe to assume that these percentages
would hold true for most any year. Several other reliable sources
confirm this ratio.

The people who are unquestionably making money on the patenting process,
without risk, are not the inventors, but rather, the patent attorneys,
the patent agents, the patent searchers and the employees of the Patent
Office. It is therefore in these people’s interest to perpetuate the
myths so long connected with patents.

One of these myths is that getting a patent automatically means that the
inventor is going to make money from his invention. Nothing could be
further from the truth! In fact, you can get a U.S. patent even though
your technology is not an improvement on prior art. This means that you
can get a patent even if your invention is short on technical merit,
compared to prior art, and more expensive to manufacture than prior art.
Of course this means that getting a patent is not, by itself, proof that
your invention has commercial value.

WHY THEN, do so many people apply for a patent? Many have been
misinformed as to the value of having a patent. They will generally
spend between $9,000 and $15,000 and a minimum of about two years to get
that piece of paper. There is also a certain amount of ego involved; it
does give a degree of status to say, “I have a patent”. But is it worth
that much time and money for something to frame and hang on the wall? I
believe most of us would agree that the main purpose of getting an idea
for a new product is to make money from it.

Another myth about patents is that a patent gives you protection, that
nobody else can make and profit from your idea. This is simply not so.
The Patent Office does not stop someone from infringing on your idea. It
is up to you to stop the infringer. How do you do this? You take him (or
her) to court if, after you warn him, he persists in infringing. This,
quite likely, will cost you $50,000 and may take years. Meanwhile the
infringer is still infringing and is still in business, making and
selling copies of your product. Win, lose or draw it is you who pays! So
if you think having a patent gives you iron-clad protection, think
again. If you do not have the business acumen and a hefty chunk of money
to sue to protect your patent why get one at all?

Something else you need to know is that the Patent Office does not
guarantee the validity of a patent. They give you that ‘almighty’ patent
but it may not stand up in court for a variety of reasons. Of all the
patent claims brought before the court, 80% are overturned or held
invalid!

This report airs out some of the misconceptions in regard to getting a
patent. There are some ideas that should be patented but you, as an
inventor, with your money on the line, have to decide what is best for
your new product idea. If a patent doesn’t add value to your idea, then
your time and money would be better spent making a working prototype of
the idea, determining how to manufacture it, what it should cost to make
it, how to package it and how to market it. HBM

Vernon Brahma is a self-made entrepreneur who runs a company he started
with a new product idea 19 years ago. He writes articles for INVENTORS’
DIGEST and is the author of the audio tape, “How To Turn Your New
Product Ideas Into Cash!”. Dr. Brahma believes that many new products
can be brought to market by the innovator, by-passing the patent
process. Interested readers can contact him at P. O. Box 6308, Marietta,
GA 30065 or by email to vbrabham@mindspring.com. To order the 65 minute
audio tape send $19.95 to the above address. The tape tells how he took
his new product ideas to market and how you can too and is sold on a
money-back guarantee.

Originally Published at http://www.homebusinessmag.com/

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SMBReviews is committed to providing small and mid-sized business owners with the information and resources they need to select the best service or product for their company.

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