Many startup founder face this question atleast once "Should they patent their products and technology or not? Is it that important? What if you don't patent? Are there other shortcuts? This article delve deeper in to this matter.
startup founders delimma to patent or not to patent
Startup Founder’s Dilemma
To Patent Or Not To Patent
Co-Founder Entroids LLC
What you could learn in here….
• Considerations before filing A patent
• I patent my product because …
• I would not patent my product because…
• Two typical patents types. Which ones for you?
• The 3rd type that saves you time & money
Considerations before filing a Patent
Build a prototype first to determine your product's functionality. It will ensures you have a
close-to-final design when you do file for a patent. Changes in materials or mechanics is
difficult once your patent's been filed. It address you to solve the Problem-Solution fit in the
product development process.
Define your market and determine how large it is. If it's too small, your product may not be
commercially viable. Validate the market acceptance by talking to actual beta customers in
private. This helps validate your Product – Market fit understanding.
Cost to manufacture;
Estimate how much would it cost to manufacture and sell in your product in the identified
market segment. If it costs more to make and sell than the market is willing to pay, your
invention is just a money pit.
Make sure your idea isn't infringing on someone else's patent. To do that, you should conduct
a "preliminary patent search." This step will help ensure that your idea hasn't already been
patented. Visit www.uspto.gov on how to do search yourself.
I would patent my product for ….
Manufacturing and commercial rights;
So you are a startup founder who has successfully developed a customer fit product for
a very large market size but you know the some XYZ company is going to make a
cheaper copy and reduce your sales. This is where you SHOULD patent your product and
acquire manufacturing and commercial rights to make the maximum profit.
License the patent or sell it;
So you have done further research and found out that you can launch a better version
and make more money and the current patent is of no longer interest to you. This is
where you SELL your patent to make money.
Keeping competitors at bay;
The primary reason that founders patent their creation is to prevent competitors from
using their idea and technology. Secondly investors feel secure with a patented product
as their investment would not go in vain.
I would not patent my product for….
To Patent Product: A significant legal fee must be paid to retain the rights. Failure to pay
results in loss of patent rights meaning anyone can copy your idea. Being a startup founder
who has just started product development there are so many things to worry about; most
important of which are customer validation and development of a product which actually sells.
Extra financial burden of the patent hurts such early stage startups and burns out their capital.
For Defending Patent : Even if you patent the product there still is a possibility that someone
somewhere may be working on the similar idea. If such a situation arise then you must be
ready to defend your patent to retain rights.
Patent is an important step but not the first step. If you are focused on protecting an idea
without even considering that how will it look once it goes into the stage ahead of blueprint;
will consumers be interested? What if the design isn't as productive as the theory? If you are
not asking these questions in the beginning then you are wasting your investment on patent
rights. Remember “Development of the product which your customer want is the first and the
most important step not preservation of idea”
Once you patent your product ‘s every single details of it becomes public. Even your
competitors have access to it and they can launch the better version once your patent expires
or find loop holes and beat your to market
Two key types of patents for Startups
Which ones for you?
Issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter,
or a new and useful improvement thereof, it generally permits its owner to exclude others from
making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent
application filing, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Approximately 90% of the patent
documents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents, also referred to as "patents
Benefits: 1. Protects the functional aspects of an invention. 2. Can provide broad patent protection
making it difficult for a competing product to avoid patent infringement. 3. Capable of protecting
many different variations of a product with a single utility patent.
Pitfalls: 1. More expensive than a design patent. 2. Takes longer to receive patent protection
(normally 2-3 years). 3. Does not protect the ornamental features of an invention.
Issued for a new, original, and ornamental design embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture,
it permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the design for a period of
fourteen years from the date of patent grant. Design patents are not subject to the payment of
Benefits : 1. Cheaper than utility patent. 2. Usually faster patent protection at the U.S. Patent Office
(normally between 1-2 years). 3. If the main feature of the new product is the appearance (i.e.
ornamental design), then a design patent will protect this main feature
Pitfalls: 1. Design patents do not protect the functional features of an invention (most inventions have
functional features). 2. Design patents can be relatively easy to design around by simply changing the
overall appearance of the competing product. 3. Difficult to protect different variations of product.
Source: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/patdesc.htm p.6
The 3rd type, that saves Time & Money
What is Provisional Patent (PPA)?
PPA is a patent application that can be used by a patent applicant to secure a filing date while avoiding the
costs associated with the filing and prosecution of a non-provisional patent application. More specifically, if a
non-provisional application is filed within one year from the filing date of a PPA, the non-provisional application
may claim the benefit of the filing date of the PPA.
Because a PPA is not examined, an applicant can also avoid the costs typically associated with non-provisional
patent prosecution (certain attorney's fees, for example) for a year while determining whether his/her invention
is commercially viable. Further, because a PPA is not made public unless its application number is noted in a
later-published application or patent, the failure by an applicant to file a non-provisional application based on
his/her PPA will not lead to public disclosure of his/her invention
A PPA essentially provides a one-year extension as to the filing of a U.S. non-provisional patent application.
Because a PPA is not examined, an applicant can also avoid the costs associated with prosecuting a non-
provisional application during this one-year period.
There are no extensions on the one-year time limit for filing a non-provisional application claiming benefit of a
PPA filing date
If the PPA does not adequately describe all that is claimed in the later-filed non-provisional application, then
the material added in the non-provisional application may not rely on the PPA filing date
Source: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/patdesc.htm p.7
More Information ….
Success = Planning + Execution
Perfect Execution is the art of getting things done faster
The best selling book by Larry
Bossidy and Ram Charan has the
title “Execution – The discipline of
getting things done”. Perfect
execution is an extension to this
definition. Startup life is chaotic and
its easy to get caught in the
whirlwind of daily firefighting and
lose focus on more important
things. Keeping focus of the team
and the habit of getting important
things done is the core of Perfect
Key to success is simplifying
strategy to tactical activities that
result in achieving the goals; and
keeping the team focused and
getting these tasks done. The
activities of the team will be in
flux depending on circumstances.
Keeping team tasks nimble and
aligned to strategic needs is the
ultimate challenge. It is the key
differentiator for winning at
The Science Of
I wish we could say there is a
formula for success. Next best
thing is to use productivity tools
that keep your team tasks
aligned to the strategic needs.
One simple and effective tool to
use is the “A3 Management
Process” popularized by Toyota.
At Entroids.com, we understand
the need for speed and
consistency in getting results. It
is one way to automate
productivity and promote team
Your Innovative Product Development GPS