written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 9/10/2011
The purpose of a patent is to protect your invention from intellectual property theft. Patents are necessary and work to keep your creation safe. So is a patent absolutely necessary? If you want to protect your invention, it can be invaluable.
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What Are Patents?
A patent gives you ownership and rights related to your invention and subsequent product(s). A patent protects your invention so that others can’t create, market or sell the product without your expressed consent. Patents protect your intellectual property. Patent Pending status lets others know you've filed for a patent and are currently involved in the approval process.
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What is the Purpose of a Patent?
There are many reasons to get a patent, the first of which is to protect your invention and retain rights to it. With a patent in place, no one can infringe on your rights as the inventor of the product or the product itself. A patent is a must-have; otherwise anyone could create copies of your product and claim the invention as their own.
Additionally, if you plan to sell your invention to a third-party, the buyer will require one or all of the following:
Note: Many buyers will settle for Patent Pending status if they feel the invention is marketable, because it can take years to work through the patent approval process.
Finally, you are protected for many years and you can sell or license the patent as you could with any asset. You also have legal recourse if someone infringes on your patented product. You can sue for royalties and damages, if desired.
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How Does a Patent Work?
So how exactly does a patent work to protect you? First and foremost, patents are granted by a government entity, are legally binding, and allow you to own your product or invention for a set period of time. Second, patents have been around a long time, and are established and universally understood laws of the land. Finally, patents are not granted until sufficient information has been filed to fully protect all aspects of the invention. If you get a patent, your invention should be sufficiently protected.
The author's own experiences suggest that it's better to be safe than sorry if you feel you've created a new product. Go ahead and start the patent process, even if you are not able to complete it, to protect your work now.