A key item on any investor’s check list is “Intellectual Property Protection”. What they are looking for is evidence that you have a protected asset that gives you a monopoly on your invention so that you can exploit your idea and get ahead of your competition. Note that an invention must be both novel (i.e. new) and have an inventive step (i.e. not obvious to someone in the trade).
A patent is the government’s way of providing you with that monopoly in exchange for publishing your invention so that society as a whole can benefit. To be truly valuable a patent has to explain the invention clearly and have a good set of claims so that competitors find it very difficult to work out how to circumvent your invention.
The best strategy may be to make as full a patent application as possible as soon as you can. This route offers several benefits:
- Start talking. You can start talking to people and begin the task of establishing your Commercialisation Friends™. This allows you to start verifying the benefits of your invention without the fear that those you speak to will “steal” your idea. You no longer need to worry about accidentally releasing concept and destroying your potential future income.
- Priority Date defined. The government will support the defence of your monopoly of your invention from anyone who copies your idea in Australia after the date you filed the patent with the government’s patent office – call the “priority date”. Anyone who has the same idea before this date can continue despite your patent. Any publication or public use before the priority date anywhere in the world (“prior-art”) can be used to destroy the novelty and inventive step of your Patent.
- Publication in 18 months. The Publication Date is the date that the Patent Office will publicly publish your application for a patent. This means you have 18 months before the rest of the world knows the detail of your invention. This gives you a head start on commercialising your idea.
- Year to decide. You have one year (from the Priority Date) to work out how much money you can make with your invention and how you will do it before the next set of fees become due. Then you can choose to update the application (being mindful that updates may not have the same Priority Date) and protect your invention creating a significant barrier to competitors. Alternatively you may decide it is not possible to make enough money you can abandon your application without further cost.
Once a Patent Application has been filed there are many other decisions you will need to make as your application continues on to being a fully enforceable patent. For example, do you wish to patent in other countries? If so, which? What modifications to the claims can you make between filing and completion a year later? What are the implications for the Priority Date? How do you obtain a patent search and interpret the results? What happens if the patent examiner raises objections?
There are two methods of filing your Patent Application. The first is to self-file the second is to engage a patent attorney and pay them to write the Patent Application on your behalf. Filing your own application is better than no application at all and there is information available online should you wish to go down this route. Before embarking on writing your own Patent Application, ask yourself how much experience you have in this process. Read some example patents online such as the famous “One click” patent by Amazon. Could you have written this?
Further, a poor quality patent is demonstrably of little use for licensing, selling or protecting your invention in the future. And therefore it will have little benefit when looking for funding from Banks, Business Angels or Venture Capitalists. So while engaging a patent attorney for around $4,000-$8,000 is a lot more than the $110 IPAustralia initial filing fee, you will find that a good attorney will add considerably more value in the future.
Once you have filed your Patent Application it is time to start commercialising it. That is where Meteorical can help you with their methodology called “Lean Commercialisation” which is designed to find the quickest way to test whether your invention will earn you an income in the future.
If you’re looking into funding for your business, there’s a fair chance you have some unanswered questions…
Come along to our Challenge the Funder event where we have a full panel of speakers from the Crowd Funding Institute of Australia, St George Bank, AVCAL, GrantReady, Angel investors and venture capital experts.