This is part two of our three-part blog on making money from your great ideas.
As you might gather from the discussion in part 1, a patent is the form of IP that comes closest to protecting “ideas.”
Inventions with Resumes
A patented invention is basically an idea with a great resume. It’s not just a vague, fuzzy, slacker-in-the-shower idea. It’s a clear, specific, and well-documented idea that meets certain formal requirements.
In the US, in order for an invention to be patentable it must be:
- Patentable subject matter – for example, you can’t patent laws of nature like even if you’re Einstein
- Novel– nobody thought of it before (or at least nobody wrote it down or made it)
- Non-obvious– to people who know about the relevant field
- Useful– but some really weird stuff qualifies
That might not sound too complicated, but billions of dollars are spent every year figuring out –and fighting over — whether inventions meet those requirements.
Many of those billions go to patent lawyers.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Patent?
There’s a great and detailed answer to that question here. Roughly, you can plan to spend anywhere from $5,000 to $16,000 and up.
Maybe your startup or small business doesn’t have that kind of money to spare – at least not for every great idea you come up with. Maybe you’re in the process of trying to get money, and you want to protect your great ideas until you’ve got some.
One way to buy yourself some time, at a lower cost, is by filing a provisional patent application.
(Note that that this means the application itself is provisional – there’s no such thing as a “provisional patent.”)
Depending on the nature of your invention, you might be able to file a provisional patent application yourself. There’s a well-regarded $99 tool to help you with that here.
You can also hire a patent lawyer to help you with this for around $2,200 to $2,800, as discussed here.
Once you’ve filed a provisional patent application, you can say you’ve got a “patent pending” – which may impress potential investors and people you meet in bars.
A provisional patent application can buy you some time until you can afford a full-fledged (“nonprovisional”) patent application. Or, you might decide that your invention sucks and not go through with a regular application.
Your invention might also get better as you work on it more, and have more elements that you want to protect with a patent.
As Gene Quinn of the IPWatchdog blog puts it,
provisional patent applications are absolutely ideal when you have something that could be protected now but you are continuing to work on refining, perfecting and supplementing the invention.
So how does a patent help you make money? Check back or follow us to find out in part 3.
The information and materials in this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice.