Are you considering patenting your design but have questions about the process? Look no further! In this article, we will share the reasons why it is always best to patent your design before beginning the design process. We will discuss common questions such as when to patent, global patenting, multiple patents, and how to get market feedback without a patent. Additionally, we will share real-life examples of the pitfalls of designing to a patent and the benefits of getting expert assistance in the patent process. Don’t miss out on valuable insights and tips to protect your idea and make it a successful marketable product.
The first question that often comes up on Dragon’s Den is “Is this protected?”. And it’s a fair question, as many of our clients are very concerned about patenting. However, there are some pitfalls to keep in mind. For example, when should you patent? Should you go for a global patent or multiple patents? How can you get market feedback without a patent? And how do you find a good patent attorney?
At D2M, we have a fantastic network of reliable and trusted patent attorneys, having worked alongside them on multiple projects for many years. We have seen many people approach us who have already spent thousands with a patent attorney to protect their idea, but often the patent doesn’t represent what is required for the idea to be a marketable product.
It can often end up as a tail wagging the dog scenario, where the client continues to spend thousands of pounds designing to their patent, even though it makes the end product more expensive or results in an inferior product. The main problem is, even if they do launch the product successfully, it won’t take very long for someone else to launch a better version that is far cheaper, lighter or easier to use because they haven’t been restricted to shoehorning the design into an existing patent.
We have seen this happen with an innovative glove product that came to us several years ago. The client had been trying to get a product to market for a few years and had already spent £30,000 protecting his product around the world with patents. However, the prototype made by another firm didn’t work as planned and he came to us to have some pre-production prototypes made. We scaled back his plans and said that we would do a minimum-cost-approach to make a basic physical model to see if, with our suggestions, we could make it work.
We completed the basic physical model a few weeks later, but it just wasn’t right and didn’t work as intended. We then made another prototype of our design and presented both options in a meeting. The new design we presented worked extremely well, but the client was still unwilling to proceed with a design that was different from the patent.
This is why at D2M, we always ensure the products we design are fully designed for manufacture. It makes sense to patent early to get your flag in the ground before someone else comes up with the same concept, but you need to be aware that the concept may change and need a new patent. Initial patent protection can cost a few thousand, but it then buys you enough time to prove the concept works before needing to spend larger amounts of money.
Once you’ve filed the patent, it’s important to get on with the development and testing. This gives you plenty of time to work out what you actually want to protect. Always be aware that you might need to file multiple patent applications if you file early. And it’s important to note that protecting your patent once filed is not difficult or expensive. A number of our clients never protected their concept as they stated that they could never afford to defend it. However, you can use a patent, registered design or trademark to defend your market share from copycat products completely free!