Intellectual property (I.P.), namely patents, are the key ingredient for technology companies. How should your business approach the patent process?
Timing is Important
It may seem counter-intuitive to hear that not filing, or delaying in the filing of a patent is a good way to protect your I.P.
The main factor to consider when filing a patent is that once your patent is published, it becomes open for public consumption, which means you could be facing competition much sooner than you would like.
Finesse Before You File
Once your company and product or service have been launched, don’t count on having a lot of time to improve, grow and hone things. Be ready to grow as quickly as possible.
People know a good thing when they see one, and it won’t be long before you start to see similar product or service offerings in the market.
Prepare to Hit the Ground Running
The key to success in the innovation space, is innovate quickly and hit the ground running.
Be as far into your business process as possible before filing any patents, i.e. creating prototypes, building your service, brand, and creating customer relationships. This will leave your competition scrambling to catch up.
Ideally, by the time they figure out a work-around to essentially copy your product or service, you will already be established as an industry leader.
Watch for ‘Fast Followers
There will always be competition, since many companies act as ‘fast followers’ electing not to spend research and development dollars. Such companies make variations of existing products and services and look at ways of cutting costs or making minor adjustments to slightly improve a product or service in their favour.
Companies and individuals looking to capitalize on your research and development could be external to your organization, or internal so compartmentalizing data to the extent possible is a good security measure to take.
Non-Disclosure Agreements are a Must
If hiring consultants as part of the development process, make sure your firm retains the exclusive rights and ownership to what is being developed. Non-disclosure agreements are an absolute must.
Reach Beyond of Your Home Turf
If you are going to file patents, make sure you file them in any and all countries in which you plan to do business. You will want the courts in all countries you are operating to consider any infringement relative to their jurisdiction.