Protecting your intellectual property is essential. The only way to do that is to obtain a patent that excludes others from developing, marketing, or selling your invention. However, the process of obtaining a patent can be confusing and murky, particularly for anyone who has not been through it previously. Thankfully, the process can be broken down into simple, manageable steps, which we’ve outlined below.
1. Flesh Out Your Ideas
The very first thing you must do is flesh out your idea(s). This step will include defining all the ideas you believe are patentable. The more ideas you can list out, and the more variations on those ideas, the better. This will give you multiple starting points for the next steps.
2. Conduct a Prior Art Search
The second step is to conduct what’s called a prior art search. It’s simplest to use AI-based tools and to work with an experienced patent attorney with access to those tools. This process goes far beyond running a Google search for similar ideas, products, or processes. It’s also private, so you don’t need to worry about exposing sensitive ideas.
This process is not just about identifying potentially similar inventions. It can help you better define your offering, building on the initial idea to provide even more benefits, features, or functions than what’s currently available. This helps differentiate your invention and arrive at an initial point of novelty.
3. Encapsulating Your Point of Novelty
In the first two steps, you identified patentable ideas and began fleshing them out. You also conducted a prior art search to avoid heavy competition or duplication. Now it’s time to encapsulate the essence of your invention in a single sentence. This is your point of novelty – patent claim – and it’s a critical consideration. It also allows you to start answering business-related questions.
4. Identifying Commercially Viable Choke Points
Is there an underlying need your invention addresses? Does it do so better than other solutions in the market? Continue answering business-related questions:
- Are there too many similar competitors?
- Does your invention not address the underlying needs of potential customers?
- Is there a commercially viable choke point?
- If not, then you save time, money, and stress by not pursuing a patent on an invention that isn’t worth that investment.
5. Identify Your Profit Strategy
How will you turn your invention into a profit-generator? What’s the strategy behind that? This step involves identifying key steps along the path, including:
- What are the costs of goods sold?
- What is your predicted average retail sales price?
- How many units do you anticipate selling?
- What profit model will you follow?
- Will you license the invention to another company or companies, or will you develop, market, and sell it yourself?
If you don’t have a profit model that seems like it will work, the idea may be better left alone. Conversely, if you can predict at least $2 million in profit over four years, it is likely worth exploring further.
6. Get Creative with Licensing and Profit Maximization Strategies
Generating profit with a worthwhile invention is easier than many people believe. However, it’s important to get creative with your strategies. For instance, licensing offers multiple paths forward.
If you decide to license your invention, you can work with multiple licensees across different industries or markets. You can also choose to simply sell the patent. The same concept applies to monetization, like using your patent as collateral for a loan.
You can force it against a competitor in many ways, just making your bid balance sheet more valuable for selling your business. Ultimately, you’ll discover multiple strategies for income and valuation.
7. Create a Prioritized Claim Strategy
Helpful when it comes to cost efficiency, especially with startups, is making a prioritized claim strategy. What’s the lowest-hanging fruit? What’s the first step you want to get quickest? What’s the quickest to cash? Or does the quickest, easiest, lowest-hanging fruit win business-wise?
You might have two, three, or four ideas that you have yet to develop that are long-term, billion-dollar ideas. However, you should go for the eight-figure idea that seems more like a dead-ringer. In most cases, prioritize the claim strategies.
Building on Your Strategy
While you might be focusing on developing a single idea, chances are good there are multiple versions or aspects of a product, service, or process that you can protect. Write those down and save them. Prioritize what you can and then come back to those related ideas in a year or two and build on them.
Ultimately, you may find you have a list of closely related, marketable ideas differentiated primarily by industry. For instance, heart rate sensors might work in similar ways, but they would be implemented very differently in the healthcare industry and the fitness industry. Use this diversity to your advantage and license your invention(s) to multiple industries to maximize profitability.
It’s also important to start safeguarding your idea from those who might want to take advantage of you. Look for products or services that might infringe on your rights and use your patent to enforce your claims of precedence.
In the end, you are not limited to a single profitability path when it comes to your invention. You have many different options available to you, including the ability to license your invention(s) to multiple businesses spread across different industries and geographic regions. It goes so far beyond what many people picture when it comes to obtaining a patent, which is either doing it all themselves or selling the patent outright. When done correctly, you can create a stream of passive revenue that can then be used to fund additional business ventures.
When it comes to business funding, it’s important to move forward with the help of an experienced attorney. Get in touch with Crowdfunding Lawyers to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you get your idea off the ground.