Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:39 pm
Attorney Jill Welytok of Milwaukee-based Absolute Technology Law Group LLC offers five tips for small and mid-sized business owners considering applying for a patent.
View a patent as a tool to protect the market niche.
If a business owner has invested or plans to invest in creating a market for a product no one else envisioned, the business owner should obtain a patent to protect from copycat competitors.
Do not view a patent as a tool solely for big companies.
Patents can be extremely valuable in deterring would-be competitors from entering a market, particularly smaller competitors who do not want to litigate any more than another small business owner would.
Balance the costs and benefits of obtaining a patent like any other business decision.
A patent strategy should reflect the market the business owner wants to protect and the nature of the company’s cash flow and profit margin. If there is a valuable market niche, it makes good sense to fully protect it. If a business owner has an untested market or a product that he or she is unsure about, a provisional patent application may be more appropriate.
Look for companies that offer patent strategies tailored to small businesses.
If a business is a small manufacturing or software company, the strategies a business owner employs will be very different than those used by large pharmaceutical or biotech companies. Basic business strategies are likely important to the business owner, whereas larger firms may be more focused on issues such as filing continuation applications during ongoing research and development.
Be confident and knowledgeable about patent rights.
Do not adopt the uninformed view that larger companies will break a patent because it was developed by a small company. A good patent is a good patent.