This is a transcript from a section of the course “Patents 340 – Invention Rating Checklist,” which is available here at IP.Education.
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Internal Business Alignment
A patent only has value when it is used.
You can also think about it this way: it only has value when it is infringed.
The first infringer, or the first user of the invention, should be your company.
As you bring the invention to market, you will educate the market about the technology.
You will also make an economic case to your customers: your invention saves them money or gives them a better result, so they are happy to pay for it.
When you accomplish this, you are eliminating the second type of risk in any business venture.
The first risk is technology risk: will the product even work.
The second type of risk is the most difficult one: will someone buy it.
Your patent and your product should have a symbiotic relationship.
When done well, the patent will protect your investment in your product.
But your product needs to capture the concept in the patent.
This sounds great, but in practice, this is hard to do.
The difficulty is the timeline.
Patent law requires that we file the patent before we announce the product to the public.
When we file the patent, we don’t get to change it.
We can file more patents with new variations, but the first one we file is fixed.
The product will morph and change over time.
After we file the patent, the product may go through additional prototyping, testing, market evaluation, and customer feedback.
Each of these steps might teach us something.
Maybe there are changes that we need to make to get from prototyping to production.
We might have thought that one feature was important to a customer, only to find out that they liked a different feature.
As the product grows and evolves, there is a good chance that our original ideas in the patent will be wrong.
We need to actively update the patent portfolio as we learn these lessons.