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5 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Consider Before Filing a Patent It is important to remember that a patent gives its owner the right to stop others from infringing on its idea

By Amit Aggarwal

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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The number of patents being filed in India is rising nearly every year. Indian entrepreneurs realize that securing patents present an opportunity to be rewarded for the effort and research done by them. A patent that is successfully applied to a useful innovation also presents the opportunity to outsmart the competition. Additionally, a useful patent is also more likely to attract investors, funding, and partners who are eager to join an entity that has successfully filed the patent.

Filing a patent is an important decision that demands certain key factors be considered beforehand. A few critical issues to consider before filing a patent are discussed below.

Research Your Patent

There is a need to understand what makes a patent unique and how it will be advantageous for your startup. It is also important to learn whether the idea or product has already been patented by another entity. For this, a startup will need to study the market and learn whether it is worthwhile to invest in a patent. If no similar patent exists in the market then taking the time, effort and expense to apply for a patent are most likely worthwhile. It may also be worthwhile to apply for a patent if it will create barriers for competitors. This means that if a patent is able to limit research a competitor can perform in a certain domain then the patent can be advantageous to a start-up.

When a Startup Applies for a Patent

A startup may have different considerations than an established company when it decides to apply for a patent. It's likely that a successful startup has created a technology to help it excel in its business domain. Subsequent to the development of the new technology it may need to decide whether it should apply for a patent at all. For instance, a startup may wish to keep the technology it has developed completely secret to gain an edge over its competition. Because on the other hand, if the startup applies for a new patent for the technology it has created, it makes knowledge of the technology public leaving open the door to competitors to perhaps patent a somewhat similar technology. A competitor may use a patented technology that was developed by a startup to its advantage by developing its own technology using the start-up's patent. Additionally, competitors may also block further development of a technology developed by a start-up by patenting their own technology.

These are a few reasons that a startup that has created a new technology may not wish to seek a patent at all but rather keep the technology it has developed a secret.

Learn About the Patent Laws in Different Countries

Many of the largest companies and entrepreneurs have struggled with respect to protecting their patents from infringement in certain countries across the globe. This is particularly true when it comes to protecting a patent in China where the price of entry often means sharing technology which is then copied and exploited by local Chinese manufacturers to the disadvantage of the company or startup that originally patented the technology. Every entrepreneur must understand the nuances of patent laws as they apply to different countries and markets across the globe. A startup that is proud of a technology and wishes to exhibit it or to publicly disclose information about the technology must also be considerate of the country or region where it seeks a file for a patent. For instance, leaving aside the Wild West that is China where patents are frequently disregarded, if a startup publicly discloses technology it may also be disqualified from owning a patent in a large and well-developed market like the European Union.

It is imperative forentrepreneurs to understand the patent laws of different countries before publically exhibiting a valuable technology.

Channelize Patents to Attract Funding

An entrepreneur or startup should file patents in a manner that attracts funding. Investors like to back businesses that have a winning patent that is likely to be useful. An organization or entrepreneur maybe filing a patent to attract financial backers and so must ensure they have a strong IP portfolio filed early for patents. Doing so makes it much easier to find funding. Additionally, it is a good idea to find a competent patent attorney to help build strong IP assets.

Manage the Costs of Patents

Naturally filing a patent has costs associated with it. An entrepreneur or start-up must manage the costs associated with filing a patent. For instance, creating drawings relevant to the technology behind a patent may seem time-consuming but doing so is more likely to lead to a patent that is easier to defend from infringement or copycats.

Once a patent has been approved should be regarded as an accomplishment and a reason to celebrate. It is important to remember that a patent gives its owner the right to stop others from infringing on its idea, yet taking the patent to the market is another issue altogether.

Amit Aggarwal

Co-founder, Effectual Knowledge Services

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