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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Importance to Product
The importance of the invention to the overall product is one of those factors that can be hard to evaluate.
The inventor might think that their contribution is the single most important part of the product, but the customer might think otherwise.
Most products are a combination of features or elements.
Your invention is typically one of these features.
For example, the intermittent windshield wiper is a great invention, but is just one feature of an entire car.
Will someone buy a car just because it has an intermittent wiper? I doubt it.
But many people would pay a little bit extra to have the feature.
I know I would.
Marketing a product is not always clear cut.
Especially for startup companies, the marketing and value proposition of the company may evolve over time.
You will try one value proposition, get little response, then try another one and see how well it works.
Over time, you will develop the right marketing message for your customers.
You will also find the right message for each type of customer.
One customer may like the fact that the packaging is easy to open, while another customer may like the fragrance.
Each customer segment may have a different need and want.
With each customer segment, the invention may play a different role – and therefore may be more important to one customer segment than another.
When you are evaluating an invention before you go to market, you do not really know how important the invention will be.
You will know a lot – but only after the product is in the market and your patent has long since been filed.
A level 1 score is that the invention is a supplemental aspect of a product.
A level 2 score is that the invention is an improvement to the product.
At this level, the value of the improvement should be able to have an economic value.
If it is a cost reduction, that is pretty straightforward.
If it solves a problem that your customers have been demanding, that should also have some value.
A level 3 score is that the invention is a key feature of the product.
At this level, the value of the invention should be close to the value of the entire product.
A level 4 score is that the invention is a key aspect of product strategy.
level 5 score is that the invention is also key to your product roadmap.
These two levels speak to the fact that the invention will be found in multiple products and have a lifespan that is much greater than the first product.
The technologies that are key to your long term product roadmap are well worth patenting.
Those that might disappear after one product are probably much less valuable.