Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights: Protecting and Growing a Business. Entrepreneur MBA Podcast 3.43
Summary: In today’s podcast episode, Devin Miller from Miller IP Law and Stephen Halasnik from Financing Solutions discuss how businesses can use patents to protect and grow their business. These solutions are helping businesses protect their intellectual property and foster innovation in business.
What problems do business patents solve?
Patents were created to give businesses exclusivity on their inventions. In the U.S., patents granted businesses the means to spur innovation and incentivize investment into U.S. businesses. The act of investment is inherently risky, making the outcome of success uncertain. Patents allow businesses and investors a sense of security in their ability to recoup the cost and risk put into an invention. Patents provide a set amount of time that a business has exclusivity of their invention and allow other entities the ability to improve your idea during the time frame of the patent.
Depending on the country in which a business operates, the ability to obtain a patent varies. Patent offices are found in most developed nations, serving similar and country-specific roles. The cultural values of a country heavily impact the role of business patents. A business must obtain a patent from the country in which the business sells its products or services. Patents allow businesses to define their customer base and protect their idea from being replicated in the geographic area in which their customers reside.
Using business patents to generate value
Patents help businesses generate value from their ideas and create a plan for your business. Businesses can use patents to defend their intellectual property from other businesses or individuals. Patents can also give businesses leverage against competitors when producing similar products or services. A businesses’ overall strategy can be enhanced through patent-orientated activities such as licensing and franchising.
Patents become more valuable to a business as the business grows and can generate higher profit. Most investors look to see if your business has the experience, expertise, and team to make the business successful. Investors also want to know what you have proprietary to your business and how you plan to protect it. For small businesses or start-ups, angel funders who are looking to invest in your business will often review if a patent will be valuable in the long run. Depending on the status of the patent, investors will assign different values to the business.
How much does a business patent cost?
The cost to obtain a patent for a business depends on the economic status of the law firm that provides the business patent. A business looking to obtain a patent from a high-end law firm should expect to pay upwards of forty-thousand dollars. The cost to obtain a patent from an average to the lower-end law firm is around twelve to fifteen thousand dollars.
Small businesses should budget to obtain patents from average to lower-end law firms to maintain profitability and save on expenses. It is important for businesses to weigh the cost and value of the patent to the costs and value of the business and find a middle ground that is economically sound for the business.
What is required to obtain a business patent?
In addition to legal fees required to obtain a business patent, businesses must also meet the operational requirements provided by the patent granting organization it pursues. During the process of obtaining a patent, a business must have a patent application reviewed by a patent reviewer. The patent reviewer first wants to know the goal and function of your business idea to ensure that it is patentable.
The ability to obtain a business patent mostly relies on the ideas of novelty and obviousness. If your business idea is the same or too closely related to an already existing idea, a patent reviewer will suggest revising your idea to be more differentiated and deem the idea unpatentable. Businesses benefit from conducting in-depth market research of their field to ensure that their idea solves a problem and creates a unique solution.
How long does it take to obtain a business patent?
The time frame of obtaining a business patent typically depends on the novelty or uniqueness of your business idea relative to others. A business idea that acts as an incremental improvement on an already existing idea may take upwards of two years to obtain a patent due to overcrowding in the business field. A more innovative business idea can expect to take around eighteen to twenty-four months to obtain a business patent.
Businesses are also required to meet critical deadlines to obtain a business patent. In the U.S., the deadline to file a patent application lies within one year of the first offer to sell.
Protecting your business from patent infringement
Patent infringement is a serious issue that business owners should be prepared to endure financially and mentally. Defending a patent is often a very expensive process for a business. Legal cost often varies around three-hundred thousand dollars for patent defense. Business owners should also be aware of the financial stability of the entity on which their patent was infringed. If the entity that a business issuing has limited resources to pay back any damages, the business that was infringed upon should weigh the risk and benefits of pursuing legal action on the business.
An alternative to suing a business for patent infringement is to offer the offending business the chance to purchase a license or means of collaboration. Offering the option to purchase a license for your business counters the chance of causing a financial detriment to your business from pursuing unbalanced legal disputes.
About Devin Miller from Miller IP Law
Devin Miller is a patent attorney that lives in Utah. As Devin worked for a large law firm helping fortune 100 clients with their intellectual property, he realized that there was not a good resource out there to help start-ups and small businesses understand intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights. As a small business owner, Devin wanted to provide a resource for start-ups and small businesses where they could learn about patents, trademarks, and copyrights and how they relate to business to help small business owners like himself build value into their business and protect their assets.
About Financing Solutions
Financing Solutions small business financing product is a great alternative to a traditional bank line of credit because it costs nothing to set up, nothing until used, and when used, is inexpensive. The credit line requires no collateral and no personal guarantees. Small businesses use their line of credit to help with emergencies or opportunities when cash flow is temporarily down (i.e. Payroll funding) Please feel free to fill out the no-obligation, 2-minute business line of credit application here. The time to set up a credit line is when you don’t need it so that it is ready to be used, just in case.
Note: Financing Solutions donates 10% of its profits to various nonprofit charities