In the early stages of your innovation journey you might be tempted to rush out and have a patent application filed. Whoa! Stop! Wait!
This urge may be fueled by the legitimate concern that another bright mind is simultaneously working on the same innovation, or that “someone will steal my idea” if I hesitate.
Industry best practice is to first formulate your business strategy prior to crafting your intellectual property strategy (of which a patent is only one part). That is correct, business strategy is “the chicken” and intellectual property is “the egg”.
Your first reaction might be: “business strategy? I’m a creator, not a business person” Welcome to the business of innovation. Here are just a few of the questions you should ask, and answer, in developing your business strategy.
- Am I going to license my invention, or form a company, or both?
- Can my invention be reverse engineered?
- Do I reveal my “secret sauce” of how it works, or do I keep it a secret?
- Is my invention “shelf ready” (already manufactured, packaged and ready to ship), an idea on a napkin, or somewhere in between?
- Will I need government approval (FDA), or industry certification (UL) and how much time will that take?
- Who is my competition and what compelling benefits does my product/service have?
- What will be the life-cycle of my innovation and what will be the first version, second version, etc.?
- What countries outside the U.S., if any, are appropriate for this innovation?
Of course there are many other questions that must be asked and answered before you have a framework for deciding on the role that Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights and Trade Secrets will have to protect and promote your innovation.
Ron Reardon, Patents & More, Inc.