Is the patenting process worth it?
If you are at least a little bit familiar with the patenting process, you are quite aware of how complex the process is and how much effort it takes. The sole fact of coming out with an invention or developing an all new product or productive process is a huge investment of resources, time and money. This effort adds up to all the work that the developers have had to do to learn about their field of expertise and prepare themselves to conduct the investigation. On top of that, the patenting process is long and requires a lot of background investigation as well. This is due to the understandable fact that, if your invention or idea has already been registered under someone else's name, the whole patenting process will be of no use. If a patent does not feature an all new idea, it is invalid. Even if you have completed such research -or paid to someone else to do it for you- you still will have to follow the legal steps of the patenting process and perhaps wait for years in the stage of patent pending until the patent is oficially granted for you. And, after all of that effort, the patent will expire anyway in about two decades as most legal systems go, and you will never be able to regain power or control over your own idea again.
All of this can -understandably- be disencouraging for people who are considering to patent an idea. Patenting can be a bother and sometimes the benefits could seem too little to be worth it. Well, this can lead to the importance of intelectual property protection being overlooked. Not all people are fully aware of why patents can be so important. Certainly, if they were not, nobody would take the time and effort to lead a patenting process or pay an attorney to do so.
The importance of patents
Primarily, patenting your idea means that you, and nobody but you, get credited about it. You have invested too much in this idea not to be properly acknowledged. Some people could even want to get the credit for themselves, people who have actually had no role in the development of the idea. If you get intelectual property protection, nobody can steal the merit that is yours.
Another strong issue in patenting is the monetary aspect. Money has been invested in the investigation process and money should be retrieved out of it, just as in any successful investment. Even if you have developed your idea in a selfless purpose of giving something of worth to humanity, you should keep the rights of economical exploitation of your ideas. This will give you control over the whole issue. Perhaps, in this case, you might not be interested in making a profit out of your idea at the expense of people who could be in need. In example, let's say that you find out the cure of cancer, and you want it to be spread for free throughout the globe, instead of charging every single patient, and therefore leaving the ones with less resources without the treatment. Perhaps, due to this, you are not interested in keeping economical rights over your creation. However, patents are not only about making money out of your ideas, but also about preventing others to do so without your permision. So, in this case, if you hold intelectual property over this medicine, you can forbid anyone else to economically exploit it without your consent.
From a profit point of view, the advantages of holding a patent are more obvious. Recently, companies who have started to loose a percentage of their incomes due to the expiration of patents can testify that there is a great difference between holding a patent or not. Having intelectual property rights over a product means that only you -and the ones you authorize at the price that you decide- can exploit that product. Your competitors will be certainly unhappy to see that you have exclusivity over a product.
Patent your invention in different countries
What not many people know is that patents are only valid within the boundaries of the country whose government has granted it. If you wish to take your product abroad -which you might, given the current globalization- you need to repeat the patenting process in each country. Never forget to get some translation service for patents, unless you want the specifics of your patent to be lost in translation. A regular translator will quite likely not be suitable for the job. Remember that patents are both technical and legal documents, so extreme accuracy in every single word is required. Only a qualified professional should translate a patent; otherwise, it could loose validity and all your effort would be meaningless before the law.