Why you should protect your invention
Alexander Graham Bell was undoubtedly an active inventor, but the telephone, which he patented in 1876, did not work properly at all. There were three other inventors working on the same invention, some of them provided the basis for his patent, some of them had develop their invention even better than he did: Antonio Meucci, Johann Philipp Reis and Elisha Gray. But posthumous fame is of no use to an inventor. History shows how important it is to protect an invention in good time.
There are always double inventions
All inventors build on the technical knowledge accumulated by generations before them. So you can assume that there are others who are trying to solve the problems you are working on by similar means. You are investing time and money in development, and it is legitimate to wish that at some point you will get something back in return - by marketing a product in which your invention is applied, for example. In order for nobody to forestall this, you should protect your invention as early as possible. You may even submit additional documents. Elisha Gray is said to have been at the patent office just two hours after Bell's lawyer!
In patent law, the first person to file a patent application counts - "the winner takes it all". Even if it's your own invention, you can't market it if someone else was faster than you! So that you don't do any work in vain, it makes sense to conduct a patent search as early as possible.
Competition Search and Patent Search - Why You Should Not(Completely) Reinvent the Wheel Read more
Protection against imitators
There is another reason why you should protect your invention, and also a possible trademark or design under which you want to market it: As soon as something seems promising, imitators and counterfeiters come and try to make money with it. "Being a copycat is even considered a business strategy and is not prohibited as long as no intellectual property rights are infringed. According to a study, almost 60 percent of companies experience that a new product is copied in the first year after it is launched. You can take this as proof that you had a good idea. You would probably prefer to earn money with your own product. If it is so new and special that you can keep your competitors off your back with a property right, you should take advantage of this opportunity.
Product piracy problem
Product counterfeiters are even more problematic. Sometimes only the product is very similar, sometimes even the name and packaging are copied. The consumer is thus deliberately deceived. With a comparatively cheap Rolex, most people become suspicious. With less well-known brands, product pirates have a great chance of earning good money with an inferior copy without the consumer being aware of the deception. The majority of such products come from China. Counterfeiting not only reduces your own sales. A lower quality product sold under your brand name will also damage the image of your real brand. How deceptively similar such counterfeits can look can be seen every year when the Plagiarius campaign chooses the plagiarism of the year.
You can protect your invention in the following way:
|What?(is protected)||Technical invention||Technical invention||Brand/ logo||Aestetic product design|
|How?(is protection achieved)||Comprehensive examination process||Registration||Registration (but doing a research prior to registration is highly recommended)||Registration|
|For how long?(does the protection last)||20 years||10 years||10 years, indefinitely renewable||5 years, maximum 25 years|
|Where? (can protection be filed)||National, regional, international level (PCT)||National level||National, regional, international level (Madrid Contract)|
Better position than copiers
The patent application, the registration as utility model, design or trademark cannot prevent copiers and product piracy in advance. However, intellectual property rights at least provide the author with better legal opportunities to take action against counterfeiters. Sometimes the boundaries between a legal counterfeit and an illegal copy are not easy to draw. The more extensively you protect your product (patent or utility model, trademark, design), the less chances counterfeiters have in court. It should be noted that a manufacturer can legally market his copied product in Asia if the protection right has only been applied for e.g. in Germany. Patents, trademarks and designs can also be protected internationally.
Would you like to set up a company whose business idea includes a technical invention that you want to patent? Then you should not go public with the details too early.
Silence is gold
An inventor who is thinking about later marketing might want to start making his development known as early as possible. This is not advisable for various reasons. In order for the patent to be granted, a clear invention must be recognizable, the development must not simply be derived from the state of the art. Your own publications and ideas are also part of the overall picture.
On the other hand, you can bring imitators and product copiers onto your track at an early stage. A young Israeli who had developed an iPhone case that folds out as a selfiestick had placed his invention on a crowdfunding portal. Many liked his idea and made money available - but before he could come out with it himself, the product was already available on the international online platform Alibaba, and much cheaper. A Chinese manufacturer was faster.
Watch the market
At the same time, you should keep your eyes and ears open for what your competitors are doing. Online trading is particularly notorious for selling plagiarism. The sooner you can stop an illegal copy, the better it will be for your own sales. It makes sense to keep a close eye on the market anyway. After all, you still want to earn money tomorrow and know where the trend is heading. Before you start with a new product yourself, you should of course check whether you are unintentionally infringing on other people's property rights.
Intellectual property rights help in the search for investors
A patent for your own invention gives you a temporary monopoly that helps you launch your product on the market. This is also important when looking for potential investors: the better the chances of selling the product, the greater the probability that the investment will pay off. And even if you don't want to go among the entrepreneurs, it is advisable to protect an invention with potential. By selling the patent or granting licenses for its use, you can refinance your development work.