The Value of Patents: Protecting Your Business and Investments

US Patent Search

By Bill Honaker, The IP Guy

Introduction:

In a recent conversation with John, a business owner, he expressed his belief that patents are worthless, bring no value, often leading to expensive litigation. However, his concern over a competitor’s patented product contradicted his perspective. He wanted advice on how to make the patented product and not get sued.

The Power of Patents:

Patents are a powerful business tool for protecting innovations and maintaining a competitive edge. By securing a patent, a company creates a hurdle that potential infringers must consider. This deters them from copying or producing similar products. The patent owner has the leverage to file a lawsuit forcing the infringer to defend their actions, incurring substantial costs. This aspect alone demonstrates the value of patents as a means to safeguard your intellectual property.

Working Around Patents:

One option for businesses facing existing patents is to find ways to work around them. Each patent has specific claims that define the scope of protection. By understanding these claims, businesses can make strategic modifications to their products to avoid infringement. However, such workarounds may result in more costly or less desirable products. The presence of patents has fulfilled its purpose by influencing competing product developers and maintaining market exclusivity.

The Invisible Shield:

In some cases, patents silently protect businesses without any enforcement. Companies with industry-leading products may find that their competitors refrain from copying their innovations due to the risk of lawsuits. This deterrence offered by patents ensures that businesses can continue to thrive, while their patents secretly safeguard their market position.

The Lifespan of Protection:

A noteworthy example of patent effectiveness is demonstrated when patents expire. A company that successfully protects its innovation with a patent can prevent competitors from entering the market until the patent’s expiration. Once the patent protection ends, competitors may swiftly introduce similar products, highlighting the significance of patents in maintaining market exclusivity.

The Power of Choice:

The absence of a patent leaves a product vulnerable to imitation and replication. Obtaining a patent provides businesses with the option to enforce their rights, giving them legal recourse against infringers. While enforcement decisions depend on several factors, having a patent provides a foundation for protecting inventions and the associated investments.

The Takeaway:

The claim that patents are worthless is far from accurate. Patents offer valuable benefits to businesses, including deterring potential infringers, forcing strategic workarounds, and providing legal protection for innovation. While the costs of obtaining a patent may seem significant, the potential return and the safeguarding of intellectual property make it a worthwhile endeavor for any business with valuable innovations.

 

Bill Honaker, The IP Guy

About the Author:

Bill Honaker, “The IP Guy” is a former USPTO Examiner, a partner with Dickinson-Wright, and author of the forthcoming book, Invisible Assets – How to Maximize the Hidden Value in Your Business. To download a sample chapter, click here.

To get answers to your questions click here. To schedule a time to talk, you can access my calendar by clicking here, email Bill@IPGuy.com, or call me at 248-433-7381.

 

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