Do You Need a Patent?
If You're Wondering Whether or Not To Protect Your Idea, Pay Attention To Who's Giving You Advice, and Watch What Your Competition Is Doing.
Last week Jim DeBetta, a judge on one of those Shark Tank wannabe shows, made a scandalous claim: that you, inventor, do not need a patent. I’ve been thinking a bit about this, and well, I kind of agree.
You certainly don’t have to have a patent to succeed IF the following describe you:
1) you’re into technology hardware, software, and consulting with billions of dollars to devote to market penetration and testing;
2) you’re into software and tech design, and hardware specializing in consumer products, with millions of rabid fans;
3) you specialize in data search, with significant ability to control consumer behavior and information access;
4) dittos if you’ve got a massive gaming company with millions of loyal followers who see themselves as in a gaming tribe; or
5) you’ve got a technology phenomenon with a culturally loyal consumer base, – then you probably don’t need patents, either.
Then, again . . . this means you’re IBM, Apple, Google, Sony, Samsung and Nokia / Android – and, you’ve already filed for more patents in 2015 than anyone else.
So, if you’re not IBM, Apple, Google, Sony, Samsung or Android, you might need a patent.
Come to think of it . . .
Jim DeBetta is right about something else: having a patent alone won’t guarantee that you’ll earn riches (although, I should probably mention that I put together a program for one client, with patents alone, that made over $10 Million).
However, while he’s right that having a patent is not a guarantee that you’ll get rich; I’ll add this: the price of not having a patent may well keep you poor.
For example: most investors will not even listen to you if you don’t have a patent pending, also the honest businesses will return submitted ideas back to the sender, with a form letter attached, telling them to file for a patent application first, and then come back. I hope everyone you send your idea to is honest; you know, like every other stranger you’ve ever met.
But, the real battle begins at the point of market traction. Let’s face it, do you really want to get threatened by a jealous competitor without the ability to counter-attack? Decide now, because if you wait more than a year, you can’t file for a patent.
As J R R Tolkien wrote:
"It needs but one foe to breed a war, and those who have not swords can still die upon them."
When your product launches, you’re going to battle. The only question is whether or not your joining the battle with or without your weapons.
So, if you don’t have a billion-dollar budget at your command, if you’re OK with lower chances of success, if you’re OK with being ripped-off and living into old age telling your kids that you really invented that thing that’s selling in the stores and making someone else millions, if you’re OK with having less than you could have in life, then yes, you don’t need a patent.