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Should I Patent This Blog?

Posted on October 03 2017 | Author: Michael Coulson

So, you think your new widget is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Like many others, you might think a patent is the logical next step to commercializing your invention, and you may be right. However, determining whether it makes business sense to patent is a complex issue, as are most legal matters. Here are a few of the many considerations to keep in mind when determining if a patent is right for you.

A patent is not a legal right to commercialize an innovation.

A patent is a direct exchange with the government. They offer you the legal right to exclude other people from using, selling, or making what you have claimed within your patent for a fixed period of time, in exchange for a detailed description of your innovation. Essentially, you are offering your cutting-edge knowledge to the public, in trade for the ability to take legal action against anyone, for a limited time, who chooses to infringe on the knowledge you have claimed.

Alternatively, you may have a patent on a certain innovation, but you might not have the freedom to operate within the space without infringing on someone else’s patent. For example, if a widget has three parts, the top, bottom, and middle, and you’ve created a better way to make the middle piece of the widget, you still need to put it together with the top and bottom, which may end up infringing on someone else’s patent.

There is a time limit for the artificial monopoly.

For the majority of countries, a patent is only valid for twenty years, after which, the innovation becomes public domain. Even then, during the time of the patent, the information of your product will be public domain, and likely if its innovative enough, someone may be able to better mimic your product with this knowledge. This is one of the reasons why food and beverage manufacturers tend not to patent their formulations. If Dr. John Pemberton of Coke-Cola decided to patent their formulation back in 1886, the patent would be long expired, by 1906 their secret sauce would be in the public domain, and likely all the coke knock-offs would taste a lot better.

It’s important to decide whether this invention is better suited for a patent or as a trade secret. Trade secrets can last forever, as long as they are kept secret by those who hold the knowledge. For example, it is rumored that KFC’s eleven herbs and spices original recipe, is stored in a vault in the Louisville headquarters, and processes six of the herbs and spices are mixed in one location with a set of staff, and the other five are mixed in a separate location, all to preserve the secret.

Patents are expensive, so they should have a return on investment.

The cost over the lifetime of a patent varies quite a bit depending on the complexity of the innovation, how long and involved the prosecution process is, and the jurisdictions for filing. The cost for filing just in Canada can range anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 for preparation and filing for a relatively simple invention, but this figure can double, or even triple depending the complexity, and this is just in Canada. If, for example, you wanted to file an international PCT application and then file in multiple jurisdictions during national phase entry, you can easily run a six-figure bill.

With this in mind, it is extremely important to understand how the patent will be put to work. There are many ways to utilize a patent, whether it is for direct licencing, used as a signal of innovation for investors or consumers, or as a defensive move to block others from entering a market. Whatever the reason for patenting, it is important to ensure that it will be able to provide you with tangible benefit.

Now, the question at hand: Should I patent this blog?
The answer doesn’t matter, but even if I think I know, I should probably ask a lawyer.


Sources:
Invents. 2017. Do you have a great invention idea. Retrieved from http://www.invents.com/how-much-does-a-patent-cost/ 
The Times. 2012. The A to Z of friend chicken. Retrieved from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-a-to-z-of-fried-chicken-nrmm3qn0gg7 
Wilson, T. 2012. When to Patent something and how to do it. Globe and Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/when-to-patent-something-and-how-to-do-it/article626823/?arc404=true 
CNBC. 2008. Colonel’s Secret Recipe Gets Bodygaurds. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20130923032226/ 
 

Michael Coulson
Analyst, Bioenterprise BC






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