10 Steps to Bring a Product to Market
Intellectual Property Protection
Now that you have your looks-like, acts-like prototype, you know how your final product will work and it is time to take a serious look at your patent options.
Professional Patent Search
Although you have done a preliminary patent search on your own, you will want to have a patent attorney or agent conduct a patent search for you. This will go much further in-depth than your patent search and some of the work (for instance, exploring prior art) will be required for your patent application.
Decide on your Patent Strategy
Once your patent search is completed, you will need to use the results to decide your patent strategy. There are many possible strategies, for instance: trade secret, design patent, utility patent, provisional patent, a series of weak patents or a prolonged patent pending strategy.
You will need to work with your patent attorney or patent agent on which strategy will work for you. Many inventors start with a provisional patent, which is easy to file on your own, but a provisional patent won’t work in every circumstance, which is why you want to consult a professional.
Other Intellectual Property Protection Options
There are other forms of intellectual property protection options besides patents, although only a patent will protect your product. Trademarks are often used by inventors to protect their company or product name and logo. You can register your trademark at the US Patent and Trademark Office or just put “TM” after whatever you want to trademark. There are certain advantages to registering your trademark and you can find out about that at the USPTO website.
Patents Are Not Necessary
Patents do help get investors and do offer some protection, but they are not required to introduce a product. And often, even if there are competitive patents, you can introduce a product if you are careful to design around existing patents. Patents have to be very specific in how the product is designed or how the method is described and often you will be able to have a design that circumvents the patent. That doesn’t mean you will necessarily be able to get a patent. Quick market penetration is often more important. Check out the story of Jay Sorenson and the Java Jacket in our articles and you can see that patents don’t always matter. Just enter the inventors name in the search box on OneStopInventioShop,net to get the article
Paying for Patents
Patents can be very expensive and if you haven’t needed to take on investors yet, you probably will need to now. Really, even if you don’t need to take on investors now, you probably should. You don’t want to wait to approach investors until you run out of money because that will make you look like a poor planner. Also, if you have connected with industry insiders or business professionals for advice, this is a good time to approach them about investing. They will understand this is an expensive, but necessary, step and as soon as they invest, they are no longer just well-wishers giving advice, instead they have a stake in your success and will be willing to use their contacts to advance your product.
As mentioned in Step 4, you will need to get in touch with a business lawyer to make sure you aren’t breaking any laws when taking investments.
Do You Need Help with this Step?
Don Debelak is a registered patent agent that offers a variety of patent services. For more info, visit our patent page.