Should I Patent My Idea Before Selling?

Rich Goldstein

Founder & Principal Patent Attorney
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One of the significant issues with generating a fresh and original idea is understanding how to protect it. If you have generated one or are working on one, there’s a good chance you would deal with this.

My goal in this article is to shed light on the importance of patent protection, what to do when a patent is pending, the importance of a patent search, and how crucial a patent attorney can be. I’ll also explore whether you should patent your idea before selling other ways to protect your ideas.

Should I Patent My Idea Before Selling?

Yes, you should patent your idea before selling. A sold patent can be a lucrative move. While you are not legally required to patent an idea before you sell your invention, there are many benefits to obtaining a patent before selling it.

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Patents are a form of intellectual property protection that grants the holder exclusive rights to their invention for a certain period, typically 20 years from the filing date of the patent application. While patents do not protect many products on the market, they provide many essential benefits to an inventor.

Even applying for a provisional application can get you a competitive edge and may be the best solution. Read on to learn about patents, the steps to obtain one, and the importance of a patent application to make the most out of selling your idea.

Why Should I Get a Patent for My Idea Before Selling It?

Getting a patent for your idea on a website before taking it to market, while potentially time-consuming, can offer several benefits, depending on your idea’s nature and business strategy. Conducting a patent search beforehand is ideal to ensure your ideas are entirely original, and you can visit the patent office to do this. These are some reasons why it might be beneficial for your business or company to obtain a patent:

Exclusive Rights

When you obtain a patent, it grants you exclusive rights to your invention for a specified period, usually, as mentioned previously, 20 years from the filing date. This means you can prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing your invention without your permission.

Money

Patents can have significant monetary value and boost success profile as well. You can license or sell your patent to other companies, whether small companies or otherwise, generating revenue without manufacturing or marketing the product yourself, and they have to answer to you.

Market Advantage

Even with a patent-pending, you have a competitive advantage in the market. For example, your competitors can only offer the same product or technology if they license it from you and have your permission.

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What Happens if I License or Sell My Idea Without a Patent?

If you’re considering selling your idea without obtaining a patent prototype, you must get a full scope of what could happen. This could help you take preparatory steps against such actions.  Here are some of the things that could happen if you sell your idea without a patent: 

Loss of Exclusivity

One of the primary advantages of obtaining a patent is the exclusivity it provides. Without one, you won’t have the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing your patented invention without your permission. 

This means others may freely replicate your idea, and considering how fast-paced the business world is today, this replication can be done very quickly. If your concept is relatively straightforward to reverse engineer, competitors may develop similar ideas that will increase your market competition.  

Risk of Idea Theft

Selling your idea without protecting the patent exposes the risk of theft by the people you sold it to. While non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) can offer some protection, enforcing them can be challenging and costly. More on NDAs will be discussed in an upcoming section of this article. 

Lower Negotiating Power

When negotiating sales agreements for your idea, having a patent strengthens your bargaining position. Potential buyers may be more willing to pay a premium for exclusive rights to a patented invention. However, you have lower negotiating power without patent protection and will likely get less financial compensation than you would have with one. 

Difficulty in Proving Ownership

Establishing your ownership can be more difficult if you don’t obtain a patent as concrete proof of your intellectual property. In a legal dispute, you may need to provide compelling evidence that you conceived of the idea first, which can be a complex and subjective process.

What Are the Best Ways to Protect My Idea Without a Patent?

While obtaining a patent before selling your idea is the best way to retain exclusive rights and protect it from theft, getting a patent could be a long and expensive venture. If you want to sell your idea without a patent, there are other ways through which you can provide yourself with some form of protection. They include: 

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Apply for a Provisional Patent

A provisional patent application is quicker and cheaper than a complete patent. While a provisional patent does not grant you an actual patent right, it offers temporary protection for your invention, giving you 12 months to prepare and file a non-provisional patent application. 

A patent attorney from Goldstein Patent Law can help you secure a patent or provisional one before you sell your idea to another company for money. For example, you may have invented a new toy you want to sell to an online company. In that case, our law firm can help you fill out a patent or provisional application and create a substantial write-up explaining why your invention is worthy of protection.

Still, there are many reasons why inventions benefit from being patented. If you have questions about your invention idea or questions about selling any patent to Google or a property, contact Goldstein Law today for patenting services.

Sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

NDAs are legal contracts that outline the terms and conditions of sharing confidential information. They can be useful when discussing your idea with potential buyers, as they prevent the buyer from telling others about it. If the buyer does this without your consent, you can file a lawsuit against them for breach of contract.

The major problem with NDAs is that many organizations will not enter into one with you, which puts them at risk of a lawsuit. This limits the number of potential buyers you can sell your idea to. If you get a buyer willing to sign an NDA, ensure that you get legal help to draft a strong one that clearly outlines the terms and consequences of sharing confidential information

License Your Idea

Licensing your idea to a trusted partner or company can be a strategic way to protect it while generating revenue. Under a licensing agreement, the licensee gains permission to use your idea for a specific purpose or within certain parameters while you retain ownership and earn profit from the usage.

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Keep a Detailed Record 

Another way to protect your invention is to maintain thorough and well-detailed records of your idea’s development process. This record should include: 

  • Sketches
  • Prototypes
  • Research notes, and
  • Other correspondence related to your idea

Detailed documentation can be vital to prove ownership or defend your rights.  

Work With an Invention Submission Company 

Invention submission companies offer services to inventors, including developing, marketing, selling, or obtaining a patent for their inventions. While these companies usually provide their help for a fee, you can earn some profit from whatever service they provide.  

Before working with an invention submission company, ensure they have a good reputation and an impressive track record.  

Related Questions

Can I Apply for a Patent After Selling My Idea?

Yes, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows you to apply for a patent after selling your idea if you apply within one year of the first sale. However, this is not without risk, as someone else could steal your idea, which can stop you from getting a patent. 

Are There Any Advantages to Selling My Idea Without a Patent?

Yes, there are potential advantages to selling your idea without a patent. If monetization is your main goal, selling without a patent can lead to quicker monetization, allowing you to earn more profit on your idea. It also helps you dodge the costs of applying for a patent, making it a more cost-effective option.

What’s the Difference Between Patenting and Licensing My Idea Before Selling It?

Patenting your idea gives you exclusive rights to make, use, sell, or import it while preventing others from doing so. On the other hand, licensing involves permitting others to use your idea in exchange for royalties or fees. If you patent your idea and then license it, you retain more control over its use. 

Conclusion 

Ultimately, deciding to patent your idea before selling it depends on your specific circumstances and goals. If you’re after quick monetization, selling your idea without patenting it may be best. However, if you want to retain control over its usage, it’s best to patent it before selling. 

Consider the potential benefits, costs, and risks carefully before deciding.

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