A patent is a grant given to an inventor. It gives them exclusive rights to:
- Produce an idea
- Sell an idea
Both are allowed for a set duration of time. For this period, the inventor is protected from other individuals and business because no one is legally allowed to either create the product patented or sell it. In other words, a patent guarantees that the only individual to profit from the idea is the creator.
While the patent is valid, the inventor can give another company the license to manufacture the product as declared in the agreement. This path is generally taken by the patent holder when they don’t want to sell the item on their own.
In simpler terms, a patent furnishes the inventor control on:
- How to make it?
- How to use it?
- How to sell it?
The Pros and Cons of Patent Filing
To genuinely make an informed decision, a person has to be aware of the merits and demerits of patent filing. Once the drawbacks and paybacks are clear, one can decide if patenting a creation is the right choice or not.
- What are the limits of patenting?
- The biggest drawback of a patent is complete disclosure of the invention. Since the public is aware of the entire technical information, anyone can reproduce it. It is why some creators prefer to keep the data a trade secret.
- The process for patent filing is not only time consuming but also extended. In some cases, it can take years for the patent to be granted which means there is a high risk of the market changing and the technology becoming obsolete.
- Filing a patent comes with a threat of lawsuits. Competitors tend to file a case to invalidate the patent. Other creators may file a suit that states that the new patent infringes their rights. In extreme cases, people may even claim damages or injunctions both of which require time and money.
- The protection a patent gives is not absolute. A contender can still reproduce the invention and put it forwards as theirs. In such instances, the original inventor should be ready to defend the patent which requires hiring a lawyer and investing more money.
- A patent is limited to one country – the nation where it was filed. To produce, sell or market the same invention in other countries, it has to be patented in each one of them which requires different applications.
- The language of the patent is crucial and hard to get right. If it is too broad or too limited, it can allow other companies to reproduce the idea with just slight changes. Even a single variation would make the replication, not in violation of the patent.
- Usually, a patent lasts for 14 to 20 years. Therefore, the patentor only has this period to benefit from the idea financially. Once the patent expires, anyone can start selling the product.
- What are the benefits of patenting?
- Most times inventors need a financial backup to sell their idea. This necessitates asking for capital from investors which open them up to the threat of idea theft. If they have filed for a patent beforehand, they have a guarantee that no investor can steal their creation.
- A patent offers the person a monopoly of the market. Since they are the only ones who can make, distribute, sell, import and export the idea, they can earn a lot of profit. No matter what profit margin the item is sold at, people will buy it because it is the only one in the market. The financial benefit of patents is the biggest allure.
- Let’s say an inventor knows how they can improve an existing product and make it better. In this circumstance, the inventor can file a patent to ensure that the maker of the original product doesn’t improve it themselves and start selling.
- Generally, the person who owns a patent can ask for a premium to produce the invention because there is no similar item in the market.
- If the creator doesn’t want to manufacture the discovery, they can sell the license for it or the patent itself. In this case, the inventor will get a royalty for every sale that is made. This is a particular benefit for those who don’t have the time or money to market the invention.
- For small businesses, a patent can be the one thing that launches them to expansion. A lot of investors agree to put up capital if a company has a right to a patent.
- Not just small business but all companies benefit from patents because they increase the credibility of the firm along with the inventor.
When one contemplates the pros and cons of patent filing in India, the returns side win by a landslide. Still, it is recommended to consider each factor carefully. Think if the advantages overcome the challenge of applying for a patent. For a start-up, it can mean a lot of cost and complexity, but it can also mean the stepping stone to success. For a single inventor, it can equate to years of legal work with no payback. In the end, the question is it enough to make the knowledge public and obtain complete legal rights for the idea?