Reasons for a Patent

By Thomas King

A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. There are three types of patents available to an inventor: utility, design and plant patents. To obtain any of these patents, the inventor must fill out and submit a lengthy application along with an application fee. While patenting an invention is not mandatory, it has certain advantages.

Exclusivity

Acquiring a patent grants the owner of the patent the right to exclude others from making, using or selling the patented invention in the United States or importing the invention into the United States. Exclusivity allows the inventor to reap the monetary and non-monetary advantages of reducing the number of competitors in the market. Keep in mind that utility and plant patents expire 20 years from the date of the grant, assuming you pay the maintenance fees. Design patents expire 14 years from the date of the grant, and there are no maintenance fees.

Improve Your Image

Inventors often seek investors to help supply the money necessary to market and manufacture their invention. Registering your invention with the Patent and Trademark Office shows potential investors that you are serious and organized and that you believe in your invention. Obtaining a patent also demonstrates a certain degree of knowledge, which can be particularly beneficial if you are looking for business partners.

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Licensing

You may not want to manufacture, market, or otherwise exploit the invention yourself. Patenting the invention allows you to license the invention to other parties in exchange for royalty payments. After all, no company will pay you for an invention that they could legally exploit without a license. Several individuals and companies rely on licensing alone as their source of income.

Improve Negotiating Position

Often, companies that create inventions engage in cross-licensing. This means that company A exchanges the patent rights it holds to an invention for the patent rights to an invention held by company B. Having a strong patent portfolio improves your negotiating position, as you are more likely to have patents that the other company finds desirable.

Warning

While there are several reasons to patent an invention, there also are several reasons you may want to avoid getting a patent. An example is when you invent something for a transient market. Obtaining a patent takes time (generally two to 10 years after submitting the application). Thus, the invention may be useless by the time patent protection is granted. Moreover, patent applications can be costly, and obtaining patent protection may not be feasible or financially wise for many inventors.

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References

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How to Apply for a Patent for a Recipe

Patenting a recipe can be a confusing process, if you don't understand the patent criteria for food compositions. A great recipe is only patentable under very narrow circumstances. The recipe must be useful, novel and non-obvious. This three-prong test means that the greatest recipe in the world is not patentable unless it involves a food formulation or application that has not been used before and cannot be intuited by a cook merely tasting the final product. The recipe must also be new and cannot be an old family recipe or something that was cooked for the public in the past, because an inventor has a limited window of time to patent an invention before it becomes available to the public domain.

How Do Patent License Negotiations Work?

A patent is a bundle of rights representing a temporary legal monopoly on a work of technology that is novel, useful and inventive. A patent owner may keep his patent to himself, or he may assign or license it. While a patent assignment represents an outright sale of patent rights, a patent license represents the transfer of partial, temporary or nonexclusive rights.

What Does Patent Mean?

A patent is a legal monopoly on the use and benefit of a unique invention. Patent rights are granted by national governments after a lengthy application and examination process. The patent holder may be the inventor or, as in the case of a work for hire, the inventor’s employer. In the U.S., patents are granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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