Technology is now growing at an exponential rate, making this an incredible time to be alive. Moore’s law, the principle that the speed of computers will double every two years due to increases in the number of transistors microchips contain, has remained true. This has spurred growth in other areas of technology.
The past decade has also seen great leaps in energy, biology, and manufacturing technologies. These have already been changing our world. The intermingling of all these advances will lead to many advantages for humans in the future. As more innovations occur, these innovations will spur on further innovations, continuing our societies along the path of the Exponential Age, where technologies advance at an exponential rate.
For the companies developing these technologies, it is vital that they seek patent protection for their new technologies. Why, though? Keep reading to find out.
1. It Protects You Against IP Theft
The most obvious reason to patent your technology invention is to protect your invention from theft from other companies. While in an ideal world other companies would respect that you invented an idea first, this is not always the case, and unscrupulous businesses and individuals may seek to take your invention and patent it themselves. You will then have a costly legal battle on your hands, one that you might not win.
Once you have an issued patent, you have the rights to your innovation for a set period of time. Within this time, you can block other businesses and individuals from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing your technology without your express permission. In simple terms, should someone attempt to use your patented technology without having your permission, you will have the grounds to file for and receive compensation for patent infringement.
On the flip side, having a patent also may deter litigation from other parties that may be working on a technology that overlaps with yours.
2. It Allows You to License Your Invention
Even if your business has developed an invention that it isn’t going to use, it doesn’t mean that you should neglect to patent it. This might happen due to it not being suitable for the company at that time or because of a lack of funds to properly nurture the invention. Once you have patented your discovery, an organization that can utilize it as part of their business model may jump at the chance to license it from you and pay to use your patented technology.
Companies like IBM, Microsoft, Kodak, Apple, and HP make vast amounts of money each year from licensing out their patents to other businesses. The financial rewards of doing this should not be underestimated.
3. Helps With Cross-Licensing Deals
Patents can help give you the leverage that you need to achieve a cross-licensing deal with another business. You may be interested in a patent that another business has. You might then be able to trade your patent for that of the other business.
This could be a matter of directly trading patent to patent, licensing patent to patent, or the patents might be included as part of a deal with other elements involved.
4. Lends a Greater Level of Professionalism to Your Businesses
Patents make your business look better and offer credibility. They show other businesses that you are a master of what you do. This will influence investors and potential partners wanting to work with you.
5. It Is in the Public Interest
A patent may grant you sole ownership of your technology invention, but in the process of patenting, you will be expected to reveal a certain amount of information on your technology, which will assist innovations by other researchers and inventors.
So when you patent your innovation, you are not only helping your business, but you are also helping to further the advance of technology worldwide.
What Can I Patent?
While thinking about the reason why you should patent something, you need to also be sure that you can patent it. The four categories for a patent under technology patent law are:
- Process. A process that is patentable combines different steps so that particular results can be achieved. A patent involving a process might describe how a product can be manufactured, a process that involves using a computer to operate a certain telecommunications system, or perhaps even a new business method.
- Machine. A machine that is patentable involves a number of components or devices that combine into an operable whole. A new technology involving a machine has a novel combination of parts or involves parts that create a totally different design for a new kind of machine that hasn’t been patented previously.
- Manufactures. Manufactures are articles that result from the process of manufacturing. It is a tangible article that is given a new form, quality, property, or combination through manmade or artificial means.
- Composition of matter. An entirely new material resulting from the combination of two or more substances. This might be a novel chemical, such as a new drug.
Will My Patent Be Approved?
If your technology innovation is patentable, the next step for your business is to find out whether your technology is novel.
You could start by using the search tool on the USPTO website to find whether a business or individual has already patented your innovation. If someone has beat you to it, don’t give up just yet. You may be able to make an improvement to their patent. As long as there are novel differences, then you stand a good chance of being awarded a patent. An experienced patent attorney can help you determine if this is the path you should take. There are risks associated with searching, so make sure you consult with a patent attorney before taking this step.
We hope this article has given you a little insight into technology patent law and helped you to realize how crucial it is to patent your technology innovation. Whether or not you believe your business will use this new technology, you should consider registering it through the USPTO patent process. The technology may be useful to another business or to future development in your industry.
Have more questions regarding technology patent law? Contact Berkeley Law & Technology Group. Our technology patent law experts are ready and waiting for your query.