Startup Founders Dilemma : To Patent or Not?
Every startup founder asks this question that “Should they patent their products and technology or not? Is it important? Let’s delve deeper in this matter
“I patent my product because“
1- 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.
2- 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.
3- Keeping Competitors at Bay
The primary reason that founders patent their creation is to prevent competitors from using their ideas and technology. Secondly investors feel secure with a patented product as their investment would not go in vain.
1- Finances Involved
To Patent Product
A significant legal fee must be paid annually 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 etc. 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.
2- Diverts Focus
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”
3- Public Records
Once you patent your product then 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.
I think the answer is pretty clear now. Patent is a necessary step once you have completely developed the product, are looking for investors and know that there is no way to challenge your technology. The beginning of a startup is not the stage to patent your product as you are still undergoing product development and understanding the market.
You can further understand the two types of patents most common and the 3rd type which is most popular for startup founders in the slideshare presentation below: