…or how to pretend to have an IP (Industrial or Intellectual Property) strategy, especially when you do not have the means…
This is an unusual title for an article that answers some frequently asked questions, and highlighting patents’ unconventional practices. Be careful, unorthodox, naughty tricks are presented below…
I apologize in advance to the IP advisors, whom I am going to give cold sweats!
Most of the time, my speech is going in the favorable direction of patenting, where it is possible and relevant to the business development strategy. Indeed, the patent has undeniable advantages since you can get a monopoly on your invention. In terms of valuation or innovation dissemination, patent is the Grail.
Often, arguments advanced against patent filing are its cost or the fact that its content is published (and therefore accessible to competitors).
Considering the publication aspect, be aware that it takes about 18 months after the filing of your original application. You still have time to get ahead without your competitors knowing about your last move.
Considering costs, the patent filing system is pretty well done. It is an often misunderstood and overlooked fact, but true. The patent becomes expensive when you maintain it. In this case, we bet that you earn more than it costs you. simple principle of return on investment. Otherwise, it is time to do something about it.
You rather see the unfolding of a conventional patent application process and its approximate costs (note that you can also make a regional (Europe or US for instance) patent application, rather than a national patent application):
In most cases, the filing of a patent application implies an initial investment about 10 to 12k € the first 30 months, for a possible international protection coverage.
In fact, at this stage, you just save a priority date for your patent applications in the future areas you will choose (that is the date from which you are supposed to be protected). The process described above gives you 30 months to think about those territories. Thus you can adapt your protection strategy according to your development wishes, without advancing astronomical sums. After 30 months, you have to choose the countries where your patent will be in force. It is at this point that costs are getting higher. Then, only annuities (much more modest in comparison) will apply.
However, some believe that 10 or 12 k € represent an excessive investment.
These amounts are those applied when you work with IP advisors firms. If you file your patent directly with your national office, bypassing experts in this delicate exercise, it will cost you far less, maybe between 500 and 800 € depending on your country. However its protection will be low because it will probably be poorly written, not admissible, easily circumvented or enforceable …
Let’s be clear, this is not an advisable strategy
if you are looking for a real protection!
Nevertheless, if your strategy is only to say “Hey I have filed a patent application”, “to frighten your competitors” or “to show you stronger” without specific intent to enforce your rights later … In short, if you consider a communication strategy and not of protection of your rights, you can opt for this cheaper alternative. In order not to lose face then you can withdraw your patent application before it is published within 18 months. Be aware that if your competitors are alert, they will realize soon enough (18 months or more if they are less vigilant and conscientious) that your IP strategy is in fact non-existent …
If you have more money for such a communication strategy, you can take the opportunity to file more serious patent applications, with professional support, but without expanding widely the protection abroad.
However having only a national patent generally has little value in a business development strategy or in the case you want to disseminate an innovation. But, you will be at least protected in one country and able to defend your rights in this piece of territory (if you accept the publication principle , of course)!
Another tip, not least if it is a race to be the first to file:
You save an early priority date with a minimalist (even written personally) patent application and, within 12 months, you plan to spend abour 5 or 6k€ to have your patent rewritten by a professional and ensure a stronger protection thereafter and ensure appropriate extensions.
So to what level are you deceitful when considering patent protection?