Patent disconnect – Protection v Deterrence

Inventors’ “talk” and “meaning” when it comes to patents is often disconnected.

When discussing patents, inventors ALWAYS mention “Protect” – “I need to protect my idea“. However, if you ask whether they would drag anyone to Court for infringement, the answer is generally “No”. With no intention to enforce the patent legally, inventors are often willing to spend significant sums to file patents that are extremely narrow in scope. So narrow in scope that it’s exceptionally easy for a competitor to “design around” – they just want a patent. Why?

The “real reason” many inventors patent is for “Marketing” and “Deterrence”. Instead of intending to “Protect” the invention by enforcing it against infringers, the primary intention is merely to deter competitors from copying. Nevertheless, most inventors follow the same path, irrespective whether the true intention is to “protect” or to “deter / market”: they engage a patent attorney; incur significant drafting costs; file international patents; argue with examiners to secure granted patents; and pay renewal fees. They are seldom advised that an alternative, cheaper, simpler process is available where “protection” is not sought.

If the primary intention is to use patents for “Marketing” and “Deterrence”, there is no need to incur significant costs. All that’s required is a “Patent Pending Number” (i.e. a provisional patent application number). A useful site is Iptica – a website that specialises in Patent Pending Numbers. And, in 12 months time, even if you decide that “Protection” may be required, this option may still be available.

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