PATENT BASICS

A Patent is the right to stop others from making, using, selling or importing your invention.
A Patent is not the right to make or use your invention.
In general most patents are issued within about 30 to 36 months from the date of filing.
Mistakes with the initial application are difficult and expensive to correct.
Typical simple inventions have the following approximate average costs.
Costs to Prepare, File and Correspond With The Patent Office Can Vary Widely Depending On the Level of Complexity of Your Invention.

 If you only want a US patent and are willing to forever give up all foreign rights, you can file your patent application up to 1 year after you first publicly disclose your idea or after you first sell your idea. This does not mean that you should wait until one year passes before you contact a patent attorney.  You should contact a patent attorney as soon as you know you want to file a patent application.


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Is your patent really worth anything?

THE AWFUL TRUTH ABOUT PATENTS - INFORMATION YOU SHOULD HAVE.
by Dr. Vernon Brabham

The patent system, as it applies to individuals, has gotten completely out of hand. Most product creators tend to put a false importance and status to the power of the 'almighty patent'. Due to this myopic perception people are wasting money at the rate of well over $100 million a year.

Patents are overvalued in our minds because we have been brought up to feel that a patent gives a special prestige, an Edison-like aura.

In the U.S. there are 3067 patent agents and 13,991 patent attorneys. Patent attorneys were expected in 1994 to make at least $1.8 billion in fees. This makes them among the highest paid attorneys.

In 1993 the Patent & Trade Office had 5,119 full-time employees. The 1994 budget for this office was 485.4 million dollars. They also handle trademarks but it can be safely assumed that most of the budget was directed to patents.

The PO reveals that they issued 88,793 patents in 1987 but only 8% would ever go into production commercially and only 5% would ever earn money for the inventor. Although these figures were from a decade ago these percentages would hold true for most any year.

It certainly seems obvious who makes money from patents. Those who are unquestionably making money on the patenting process, without risk, are the patent attorneys, patent agents, the employees of the PO and related people such as patent searchers, etc. It is therefore in these peoples' interest to perpetuate the myths so long connected with patents.

Myth 1: Getting a patent means that the inventor is going to make money. Nothing could be further from the truth! You can get a U.S. patent even if your invention is short on technical merit, compared to prior art, and more expensive to manufacture than prior art. This means that getting a patent is not proof that your idea has commercial value. In short, the PO just doesn't care and, in most cases, your attorney doesn't either; after all, his primary function is to get you a patent, not to give you business advice.

WHY THEN do so many people apply for a patent?

It is because they have been uninformed as to the value of having a patent. They will spend between $9,000 and $15,000 and a minimum of two years to get that piece of paper. It might 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 don't think so.

Myth 2: A patent gives you protection. This is simply not so.

The PO does not stop someone from infringing on your idea. No...it is up to you to stop the infringer and you do this by taking him to court if, after you warn him, he persists in infringing. This will probably cost you $50,000 and may take years. Meanwhile he is still infringing and is still in business making and selling copies of your product. So if you do not have the business acumen and a hefty chunk of money to sue someone why get a patent at all?

Myth 3: The Patent Office guarantees the validity of a patent. Again not so. The patent you get 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!

Get your product to market fast!!
Experts say that only 1% of the products on the market today are patented so there are a lot of people who don't think a patent is that important. These experts usually agree that being first on the market brings considerable advantages.

If your product sells, you still have a year to apply for a patent. If it doesn't sell, think of the money you saved! The ultimate goal of having an idea for a new product is to make money and if getting a patent is the proper tool to achieve that goal then go for it but don't do it just because someone says you should. If getting a patent is not the proper tool then spend that money and time getting your product out there fast, first and profitably!

Sunday, November 01, 1998

by: Andy Gibbs (Chairman and CEO of PatentCafe)

Getting a commercial perspective on your invention.

Your Patent Is Worthless.

That's right - ain't worth a dime. You might be shocked, as are most inventors, to learn that the value of your newly issued patent, in my opinion, is ZERO.

Oh, I can see it now -- inventors all over the country telling me that I'm full of it, and that their patent will revolutionize the way things have been done for decades - and how their invention will sell 'like hotcakes'.

Sorry folks -- I've heard your story a thousand times -- even told it meself a time or two regarding my own patents. Your patent has no more commercial value, in and of itself, than a newborn baby has value as a future Gold Medal Olympian.

What's more upsetting is my estimation that only 3 to 5 out of 100 inventors who read this will ever succeed in commercializing their patent. And one out of five will dismiss it as an article written by a screwball editor who just doesn't 'understand how good my invention is'.

Only 3 to 5 will take the time to understand that everything they have done so far in developing their patent is only 10% of what needs to be done - the other 90% of the effort and hard work begin right here.

Only 1 in 5 will really begin to question the value of their patent - looking at it from the Buyer / Licensee viewpoint -- and they will have a good chance of success. They will learn that the 'Key To Profits' is ....

PROFITS.

The successful inventor will spend more time and effort finding out how their invention will deliver profits to others, rather than letting their ego get carried away in calculating how much profit their invention will bring too them.

In other words, unless the inventor knows how their product will ultimately be distributed in the commercial marketplace, and unless they understand the profit margins and mark-ups that each of the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, sales representatives and retailers COMMAND, and unless they use this information in formulating a cost, pricing and profit plan for each link in the chain between the manufacturer and ultimate buyer, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the profits of one link in the chain are going to be overlooked.

And if that link doesn't make any money from handling your product, guess what? -- Yep - the sales chain stops right there. Of course, the commercial success of your patent stops there too.

Here is how to get your patent out of the 'me-me-me' stage, and into the 'you-you-you' profit focus that will carry your idea to profits.

Review the 5 points that I call:

Gibbs' Theory of Distribution Channel Driven Patent Value