When you have made an invention you will have some important decisions to make before you go ahead with to commercialize, license or sell it. In particular you will have to decide how you want to protect it. Often that means applying for a patent , but there are many other choices you could make instead. Each choice has its pros and cons and each is most appropriate for a particular set of goals and circumstances. I have tried to collect those choices into the following table, drawing both from my own experience and from that of experts in the field such as Russ Krajec of the blog “Anything Under the Sun Made by Man“. I hope that you find it useful.
|Non-Provisional Patent||You own your invention. You can sell or license. You have a 20 year monopoly.||You may not get the patent. You may have to defend it. You will have to pay for it.||Companies who want to sell or license their invention or want an exclusive right to manufacture.||Write patent application.|
|Provisional Patent||You have 1 year to make up your mind whether to go ahead. Patent office fees are much less.||If you don't go ahead in the one year grace period you lose the right to patent the invention.||Inventors who are not sure the concept is worth patenting and want time for additional study.||Write provisional application.|
|Patent It Yourself||Low cost. You pay only patent office fees.||You may make mistakes. You may have to deal with office actions you don't understand.||Inventors with time to spare, knowledge of patent law who want to save money.||AlaCarte cam help with office actions.|
|Disclose It||No one else can patent your invention and keep you from practicing it.||Anyone who wants to practice the invention can do so without asking you or paying you anything.||Companies who want the right to use their invention but don't want to patent it because they have other competitive advantages.||No BML help.|
|Keep It Secret||No patent costs. No legal battles.||No ownership. Someone else can patent you idea and keep you from making it. Anyone who wants to can practice the invention.||People who want to make the product and can keep the invention secret - example Coca-Cola.||No BML help.|
|Do Nothing||No patent costs. No legal battles.||No ownership. Someone else can patent you idea and keep you from making it. Anyone who wants to can practice the invention.||Inventors who have no desire to practice the invention or to sell it to someone else.||No BML help.|
|Open Source (SW)||No patent costs. No legal battles. No one can copyright your software.||No ownership. Someone can copy you idea. Anyone can practice the invention.||Companies who want their software available to all but don't want someone else to copyright it.||No BML help.|
|Copyright It (SW)||No patent costs. No one can copyright your software.||Protections against blatant flat out copying all other methods of copying are fair game. Fees must be paid to register copyright.||Companies who are willing to accept the weakness of a copyright to protect their software.||No BML help.|
Whatever choice you make, and you will choose, even if it is to do nothing, that choice will have consequences for the value of your invention and your ability to practice it without interference. Make sure you make the right choice. We at BML are ready to help. Just contact us to find out how.