Patent basics

Glenn W. Peterson

With California being a hotbed of innovation, it is not unusual for an individual or a business to consider filing for a patent. However, before rushing in to do this, it is important that people full understand what a patent can and cannot do and also that they approach the patent filing process in an appropriate and timely fashion.

As explained by the Houston Chronicle, there can be both advantages and disadvantages to filing for or securing a patent. Many people think that by having a patent, they have a clear path to market domination and fruitful profits, but it is not quite that simple. While a patent can prevent someone from manufacturing or selling an identical item, there is a limit on the length of time for which that ban is in place.

In the meantime, competitors will have full access to the details of a patent. This gives them ample time to plan their strategies about how to enter the market as soon as the patent time period ends. They may even be able to develop a superior product in that time.

According to Inc. magazine, for companies that do determine a patent is important, they must file an initial application within 12 months of the first public disclosure of the invention. Also, an application should clearly focus on the invention itself, not the ways in which it can be used or what problems it solves for customers. To qualify for patent protection, an invention must truly be unique, not obvious to others and offer a viable use.