Do You Need a Patent to Start a Business?
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So you have a great new invention, and you'd love to turn it into a business — fantastic! But do you need a patent to start a business? Well, the answer isn't as straightforward as you might think. So, in this article, we're going to explore this question in a bit more detail so that it makes a bit more sense.
Jumping right in: there's no legal requirement.
You read that right.
Legally, you don't have to have a patent. Although they offer you legal protection, there are several reasons why getting one might not be practical.
(We'll get into this in detail soon, don't worry.)
But the underlying idea here is this: you can comfortably (and legally) run your business without a patent.
But why would you want to do so? Let's get into the first reason why it may not be a great idea:
Do you need a patent to start a business? Well, odds are you'll change your mind.
There's a reasonable probability that you'll change your business concept just a few months after starting it. The CEO of Bramlett Residential, Eric Bramlett, had this to say:
"From my experience, business owners are often surprised at how quickly their business concept can change within a few months of starting. According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Small Business Administration, over one-third of small business owners have changed their business concept within the first three months of starting their business."
So getting a patent on an idea that you're likely to change soon anyway doesn't seem like a very good decision. Remember, often all the best ideas happen with practice. So don't commit to a patent before putting your business into practice. However, there are more reasons to consider:
It's all very costly.
Getting a patent is a costly undertaking.
(And, in actual fact, that's an understatement.)
You can expect to pay well into the thousands of dollars for some patents. While a design patent might only cost you $899 + United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fees, a utility patent can cost you over $ 10 000 in total.
And not only does it cost you money, but it costs plenty of time as well.
How long do you think it'll take to get it?
You'd be mistaken if your answer to the above is just a few months. In fact, not only will an accelerated patent application process cost you even more, but it still takes up to a year.
Generally, the entire process can take up to 22 months.
And on top of this, most patents (approximately 9 out of 10 patent applications) are just downright rejected. It'll not only cost you more time, but you'll also have to duplicate your payments.
Take alternative precautions
There are various alternative precautions you can take to protect your business (that won't cost you thousands of dollars), including the following:
- Getting a strong trademark: You can search to see if your trademark is registrable using breakthrough technology at Trademarkia.ai. When you trademark company names, consider that made-up words and those that have nothing to do with the product or service are considered stronger. You can also use the Trademarkia website instead of the USPTO's trademark database.
- Securing your domain name: A good domain name can be a valuable asset for your business. However, securing your desired domain name may require you to make a purchase. You should get a reasonable price. And remember, it'll increase in value later as your business becomes more popular.
- Securing your social media sites: Remember to register your desired username on different platforms as soon as possible to prevent someone else from registering under the same name.
Focus on execution
Ultimately, while a patent adds good intellectual property protection for your business, it may not be a wise decision for a startup. This is considering the time and money investment put towards something that may not even work out in the long term.
Focus on getting your business off the ground and making sales. Adding a patent to your IP portfolio, well, that should come later.
Start your patent application today with our “Patent Filing 101” guide.
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Joshua J. Brouard brings a rich and varied background to his writing endeavors. With a bachelor of commerce degree and a major in law, he possesses an affinity for tackling business-related challenges. His first writing position at a startup proved instrumental in cultivating his robust business acumen, given his integral role in steering the company's expansion. Complementing this is his extensive track record of producing content across diverse domains for various digital marketing agencies.
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