For Many People Patents Are a Waste of Money
Most Patents Do Not Make Money
Although most patent owners think they have a really good money making idea,
nonetheless, most patents do not make money.
Whether attempting to sell or license a patent, marketing the patent may be more
difficult and more costly than obtaining the patent. It is often difficult to even get
attention of those in a position to license or buy a patent from the patent owner.
Enforcing Your Patent
Even after getting a patent, it is quite possible that someone may infringe the patent
without the patent owner ever finding out. The patent owner is responsible for
enforcing her/his patent. It may be a good idea to consider how the activities of
potential infringers are going to be monitored prior to applying for a patent. Once an
infringer is found, if they decide to continue to infringe the patent and not pay royalties
despite the patent owner's request to do otherwise, the patent owner may need to hire
an attorney, and sue the infringer in court to collect the royalties. (The government will
not arrest someone or bring criminal charges against someone for patent infringement
alone.) The cost of litigation can be quite substantial, and the number of attorneys
willing to be paid on a contingency basis is dwindling. An individual patent owner may
not be able to find an attorney to take the case on a contingency basis, and may not be
able to otherwise afford the cost of litigation.
Before applying for a patent it may be a good idea for the inventor to check if any
agreements were signed that assign any the invention to one of the inventor's clients or
former employers. Specifically, upon being hired as a full time employee or even to
perform work on a contract basis, the corporation may have the employee or contractor
sign an agreement that stipulates that the corporation owns anything the employee or
contractor invents. Sometimes these agreements extend beyond inventions that were
developed at the corporation.
Usually obtaining a patent involves filing a patent application, and responding to one or
more communications (usually including one or more rejections) from the US Patent
and Trademark Office. The total cost of obtaining a patent could easily come to quite a
large sum of money. The fees for preparing and filing the application are not the entire
cost of obtaining a patent. The next significant communication from the Patent and
Trademark Office is unlikely to come until at least another year possibly not until after
several years. I charge a separate fee for each response to each communication from
the US Patent and Trademark Office. Thus, the total cost of obtaining a patent is the
cost of writing the application plus the cost of responding to each communication.
Each significant communication will likely be spaced apart by at least three months, but
not necessarily. Additionally, after obtaining a patent, to maintain the patent, the US
Patent and Trademark Office charges fees that are due at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years after
the patent issues. Please feel free to contact me for more specifics regarding my fees.
The Seemingly Endless Process
One of the few conclusions to the process of obtaining a patent (which is called patent
prosecution) is the issuing of the patent. Usually persistence eventually pays off. There
is almost no end to how long the prosecution can be extended. However, the longer the
prosecution extends, the more expensive the process becomes, and the prosecution may
negatively affect the value of the resulting patent. In at least some cases, there are
measures that can be taken to increase the likelihood that the prosecution will be
relatively short. However, these measures will generally narrow the coverage that is
Will the Invention be Obsolete by the Time the Patent Issues?
The US Patent and Trademark Office attempts to keep the time between the filing of a
patent application and its issuance to be eighteen months. Nonetheless, many patent
applications are not even seen by the Patent Examiner until several years after filing the
patent application. Consequently, it is possible that the product will become obsolete
prior to its patent application issuing.
Although most patent applications eventually become patents, no one can ever guarantee
that an invention is patentable or that a patent application will ever become a patent.
There is also no guarantee that once a patent finally issues, it is in fact valid. The
Examiner may be mistaken in his/her judgement or may miss the best available reference.
The above paragraphs give only a brief description of various aspects related to
obtaining a patent and are not intended to be a thorough description. The above
paragraphs are intended to portray a sense of the expenses and risks involved in filing a
patent application so that anyone considering filing a patent application may better
decide whether filing the patent application is the correct decision for them. The above
paragraphs should not be relied upon for legal advise. If you have questions about an
employment contract or other contract, licensing, or infringement, please contact an
attorney. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.