Will your idea sell?
Now, before you even consider going down the patent path, you should first decide whether you should file a patent application. This consideration is essentially a commercial one because you don’t want patent protection over an idea that won’t sell.
Therefore, we always recommend that as a first step, you do a back-the-envelope calculation to figure out how much money you would make from the idea – would you produce and sell the idea yourself?
Would you generate royalties from licensing the use of your idea to others? If you believe it would be feasible to make more than $10,000 from the idea, then patent protection is probably worthwhile.
International Patent Application
Now, let’s get one thing clear, there is no such thing as an international patent. Rather, one must obtain a patent in each country of interest, such as Australia, the US, Europe and many other countries.
However, it wouldn’t make sense to file a patent in each country right away because you don’t know what the market will think of your idea and you may also need to make improvements to the idea over time.
Luckily however, you can take advantage of an international patent application. This generally starts with the filing of a provisional patent application which gives you an initial 12 months of international patent pending commercialisation “breathing space” during which you can bring your idea to the market. The provisional patent application has some great advantages in allowing you to capture improvements to the idea over time and is not published for your competitors to see.
Your strategy is to commercialise your idea quickly once your provisional patent application is filed so that you can justify filing patent applications in more countries down the track. If you need more than 12 months, you can optionally buy a further 18 months of international patent pending using the PCT patent application, giving yourself two and a half years from filing before you have to choose countries of interest.
Then, in each country of interest, your application will go through an examination process and you will be granted a patent on those aspects of your idea that are new. By this time commercialisation of your idea should be going well in each country and you can have peace of mind that competitors won’t be able to erode your market share during the 20 year life of the patent.
So, if you’ve had a lightbulb moment and have an idea that is commercially valuable, book a meeting today to protect your idea.