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If You've Got A Good Idea For A Product, Do You Need A Patent?
Once you have your product developed it's time to decide if a patent is worth the trouble. Although in theory, all good ideas should be protected by a patent. Consider the protection however as only the right to allow you to claim the technology, product or ideas as your own. YOU get to do all the protecting. So if you develop a product then someone steals the idea and goes into competition with you, you have the right to sue and defend your patent rights.
In patent cases, there typically are claims and counter-claims, especially if it's a popular product. These cases can quickly become more complicated because of the dynamics of product development. As the complexity increase, so do the costs.
Understand that it's YOU that gets to pay the patent attorney fees and court costs that can rapidly add up into the tens of thousands of dollars very quickly. So you need to ask yourself if your product or idea is such that it will generate large dollars. Put bluntly, what's the product going to be worth and are you confident that the product of idea has a good shot at being worth the trouble. Of course, the higher the value of the product-idea- or technology, the more likely people will want to compete and it may be to your advantage to apply for the patent rights with the government.
Another thing to consider is that even if you have the patent rights in the U.S., others may be free to use your ideas throughout the rest of the world. Although many countries support common patent rights, the reality is that if it's a good idea and is used outside the United States, it's becomes even more expensive and difficult to protect your patent rights. It's important at this point in your product development to understand that the costs of a patent are not in the application but in the defense when it becomes necessary.
If you're product becomes popular, it's not unknown for large corporations to take your patented ideas and compete directly with you in the market. Because of their size, they have a great advantage and can literally destroy your business built around your product, idea, technology or patent. Large corporations have been known to simply have an attitude of "sue me." They then tie up the little guy in litigation for years and sometimes decades all the while benefiting from his idea. Understand that this doesn't always happen but if it does, you could be left without a market for your patented idea and the prospect of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to attorneys to establish your patent rights.
Finally, the last major issue to consider is that some countries and international companies simply will not care about your patent even if you have one. These countries, specifically China comes to mind, do not care about intellectual property rights or patents. Even if fully protected with your patent, some countries have no problem simply taking what interests them. Although China isn't the only country to have this attitude, they have been considered one of the biggest offenders for years.
So you need to ask yourself if the value of your idea is such that it warrants a patent. That you are willing and able to defend those rights in court, and have developed a plan to protect your idea in the international markets.
About the Author: Abigail Franks writes on a variety of subjects which include family, home, and business. For more information on patents and patent attorneys visit the site at http://www.patent-attorney.livingwellzone.com