Other ways of protecting your invention
Being granted an invention patent is a long, complicated and expensive process. And this is just the summary on what you might not want or, actually need, an invention patent. Because while invention patent might sound attractive and glamorous, there are other types of protection from the category of Intellectual Property (IP) that might be more suitable for your projects (trademarks, trade secrets, copyright and design rights).
Patents are without a doubt the most difficult form of Intellectual Property protection out there. You can actually wait for several years before receiving your patent. Meanwhile, your application is being published after 18 months from the date when you filed it, thus exposing your idea to the risk of being protected by someone else in another way.
For example, if your idea is connected to a new product, you can bring it faster and safer to the market under the protection of a trademark which is easier to obtain.
Then, there is the matter of the cost. A patent for your invention can be a very expensive investment and if your idea proves to be less attractive on the market than you thought it would be, you just might be wasting a lot of time, money and effort. Make sure you have carefully evaluated the potential of your idea before choosing such an expensive type of legal protection.
For innovative elements that are considered to be rather aesthetic in nature than associated with the utility or functionality of the product, you can choose to apply for a registered design which will be more appropriate than a patent. As for the protection that a registered design is offering, persons or companies infringing on your rights obtained by a registered design are facing a fine and up to ten years in prison.
Another way to protect your invention, even if it meets the requirements for a patent, is to use a confidentiality agreement to protect its secret. Confidentiality agreements are efficient in the following situations:
– Your invention is difficult to reverse engineer
– You predict that your product will have a short life on the market
In the last situation you can combine the advantages and the protection offered by the confidentiality agreement with an aggressive branding and advertising strategy which will ensure your success on the market long before anyone else will succeed in copying your product.
The advantage of the confidentiality agreements or trade secrecy is that is valid as long as the information needs to remain confidential. Patents on the other hand have a limited monopoly term.