Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

December 8, 2013

SCORE: Should you seek a patent?

TRAVERSE CITY — Entrepreneurs commonly ask if they should seek a patent to help protect their business idea or invention.

Patents can be an important asset for a business because they allow you to prevent others from making, using, or selling your invention. However, the patent process can be complex, time-consuming and expensive. As a result, a patent is not always the best or most practical option.

There are two basic types of patents — design and utility patents. Design patents cover the aesthetic aspects of a product and have a life of 14 years. Utility patents cover the structural and functional aspects of an invention and have a life of 20 years. Utility patents can cover manufactured products, machines, chemical compositions, and manufacturing and business methods (including software). Patents are not renewable.

The cost of obtaining a patent includes patent office fees and attorney fees. It is not uncommon for a straightforward utility patent to cost $10,000. Complex inventions, software, and business method patents can cost much more. Design patents can sometimes be obtained for as little as $1,000, but may cost more.

If protection is needed in countries other than the U.S., separate applications and additional costs apply. In addition to the costs of obtaining a patent, it can be very expensive to enforce it through litigation. If you are not willing and able to enforce your patent, it may have limited value.

Before using your invention in your business, be sure it does not infringe upon an earlier patent. You should consult with a registered patent attorney to obtain a written patent infringement opinion, which can also determine whether your invention is patentable.

You do not necessarily need to patent an invention to use it in your business, but a patent can be valuable when it is important to prevent competitors from using the invention. You will also need a patent if you intend to sell or license your invention. The scope of patent protection will vary depending on the size of the improvement the invention represents.

Text Only

the BIZ

AP Video
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide