Yesterday we looked at whether you can patent your invention. This is a completely different question than whether you should. Can asks whether your invention meets the statutory criteria. This question is easily answered by even the greenest patent attorney. Should asks whether it is worth the money. Even the most skilled patent attorney will have difficulty with this question. Why? Well the answer to the first question relies on the patent attorney’s skills at drafting, whereas the second relies on your skills as a marketer.
While no one can tell you for sure whether a patent is worth the money, your patent attorney may be able to answer many of the following questions, which will make your decision much easier:
1) How much will it cost to patent my invention?
2) How long will it take to get a patent?
3) What is the closest competitive item on the market?
4) Does my invention provide enough of an advantage over the closest competitor to demand a larger profit in the market?
5) How broad will my patent be?
6) How close will competitors be able to get to my patented product and still
7) Do I have the resources to market the product myself?
Do I have the connections to sell or license my patent?
9) Do I have the resources to defend my patent in court against an infringer?
The answers to these questions determine the costs and benefits needed to make your business decision. Most new clients ask the first two questions, but none have ever asked me the remaining seven. Your patent attorney will not have the answers to all of these questions, but likely will be able to assist in finding the answers.
Patent attorneys are there to help you and provide you with answers. Left to their own devices, however, they will answer questions for hours on the minutia of patent law (We are kind of funny that way). It is your job to get answers to the questions that interest you, rather than answers to the questions that interest the patent attorney. Deciding whether or not to patent an invention is not an exact science, but it is much easier with the right information.