How to Patent Your Small Business Idea

There are a lot of people who entertain a thought of starting their own business. They often fail to do so due to the lack of skills or ideas. Business ideas are very desirable and wanted by many. If you have one, particularly if you could define it as brilliant, it is worth looking into ways of protecting it with a patent.

What is a patent?

According to the Oxford dictionary, a patent is a: “A government authority or license conferring a right or title for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention.” You can apply for a patent within your country, or you can apply for one internationally with the World Intellectual Property Organization. There are three different types of grants you can apply for: utility patents, plant patents, and design patents.

Execute your idea

An excellent idea is a good start, however, it cannot and should not be patented as such. Try developing it further into an answer to an actual problem. Create an invention which will have a real value on the market. Patenting is a lengthy and expensive process and it is not worth the effort without a potential for prosperity. That is the only way you will ensure you get the return on the investment.

Make sure you are the first one

Just because you cannot see the products on the market based on identical ideas to yours, it does not mean they do not exist. People sometimes get out a patent, long before their product reaches mass production and becomes available on the market. Conduct a research on the Intellectual Property Office website to find out whether your brilliant idea is truly unique. If it is, you can take it a step further.

Get help

In order to get a patent for your invention, you will need some assistance. Look for experienced patent attorneys to help you through the process. Filing an inappropriate and inaccurate application can have your idea exposed and your grant of patent declined. The exposing of the idea, does not only refer to the “leak of information”. It also refers to a poorly drafted patent which does not protect your invention the way it should.

Even though the patent agents are experienced and approved by Charted Institute of Patent Attorneys, they still need your assistance. It is up to you to provide details of your invention as accurately as possible. Also, you should be able to present it and explain what makes it revolutionary and different from everything else.

The application and examination

Once the documents are drafted, you can file an application. The application protects your idea for a set period of time defined by the relevant patent office. During this period, you are to make a formal request so that your application gets examined. It takes a couple of years for the process to be finalized.

Apart from the request, you also need to pay a fee. The amount of the initial filing fee depends on the price schedule of the patent office in your country, for the USA it is app. $130, whereas for the GB it is app. £250. The total amount spent adds up to several thousand dollars ($3000) and pounds, alike (£3000-4000) when the agent’s fees are included. The fees can vary based on the complexity of the invention, as well as whether it is a national or international grant.

Trademark, Copyright, and Intellectual Property

If you are looking to protect anything else rather than a product or a process, your grant of rights may fall under a different category. Elements of your brand’s visual identity should be registered as a trademark. This applies even if your business is based on your patented invention. Creative work falls under the copyright category and there are no specific requirements for registration. If you use your creativity and innovation to apply in a service business, you are looking at claiming the right to intellectual property.

Protect yourself from patent infringement and stolen ideas

The timely application will make you the first in line to have the patent approved. Your idea will be protected during the time while your application is pending. Be careful about who you share your ideas with.

If you want to work on setting up a business around your idea and you need investors and associates, make sure they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. The agreement should be drafted by a professional and for a specific purpose, worded in such way so it cannot be interpreted as a threat for the future ventures by those signing it.

It is also recommendable to document any correspondence related to the patent. Also, you can use the new-age blockchain technology to encrypt the data related to your invention.

Even though the process itself may sound too demanding, and similar to something out of a movie, it is worth the effort. Brilliant ideas can be developed and perfected into groundbreaking inventions. There are plenty of examples where the originators of the ideas were not the ones who eventually benefited from them. Do your best not to be one of them.



David Koller is a freelance passionate blogger, copywriter and occasionally business consultant for Actuate IP, the best trademark attorneys Melbourne has to offer.

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