Innovation and intellectual property are intrinsically linked. You can protect new inventions and creations with the provisions of intellectual property (IP) law by protecting others from profiting from your innovations.

Inventions and Patents

Patents protect the inventors of groundbreaking technologies by allowing them to control and profit from commercial use of their innovations. A patent holder has the exclusive right to sell, make, distribute, and/or import the new technology he or she has created and can legally prevent others from doing so. You can profit from your patent by licensing the technology to others in exchange for a fee. 

The criteria for a patentable invention varies from one nation to the next, but in general, the inventor must demonstrate that his or her creation is useful, novel, and would not be obvious to others working in the industry. Patent protection is valid for a period of 20 years if the patent holder pays required fees during that time. For this reason, a patent creator may abandon an unprofitable patent, allowing it to enter the public domain and become free for use.

Patents also make information about inventions available to the public. A patent application must include a thorough explanation of how the creation works. Applications get published after the granting of the patent occurs.

Granting patent rights is only enforceable in the original granting country, so creators may want to seek protection in foreign nations as well. The WIPO Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) helps to facilitate this process, which allows creators to simultaneously pursue patent protection in 152 member nations. After domestic patent protection has been in place for one year, the creator can submit an international application through the PCT. Advantages of this include:

  • Rights that date back to the original patent's filing date
  • Common regulations followed by and enforced in all member countries
  • Deferred patent costs that allow you to test the market in a nation before paying for full patent protection
  • Including a feedback assessment of a particular invention's profitability

Global Benefits of Patent Protection

Patent protection financially rewards creators for innovations that are commercially successful, which provides a valuable incentive to create life-improving technologies. Small businesses and independent inventors can expect a return on investment for the time and money they spend developing a new innovation. Society, in turn, benefits from both the new innovation and the economic opportunities it creates. The revenues from these technologies provide for the financing of additional research and development endeavors.

The patent process turns an invention into a commercial asset through sales, licensing, and collaboration. Intellectual property (IP) assets such as patents can also attract investors to the business. The new knowledge and intelligence generated by an invention can inspire future creations, which may lead to additional patented innovations. 

The mapping of patent information allows policymakers to see where valuable research and development is occurring, thus shaping policy and regulation to support innovation.

Strategic Intellectual Property Management

IP's importance has been a cornerstone of economic growth and business success since the 1930s. However, shielding your business's IP exponentially increased in the 1990s with the technological age. While large firms typically have a well-developed IP strategy in place, small firms need assistance with effectively protecting their IP assets. Organizations can increase their innovation and economic development by taking advantage of IP management strategies that include but are not limited to control, sourcing, licensing commercialization, pricing, and valuation.

IP and New Product Development

Categorizing technological innovation is best completed by product vs. process, incremental vs. radical, and complementary vs. sequential. Marketing, complementary, and institutional innovation are critical for marketing the products and services created through technological innovation.

To qualify for IP protection, a new idea or invention must solve a specific problem. Examples include but are not limited to utility models, trademarks, trade secrets, patents, industrial and mechanical designs, copyrights and trademarks, and even new plant varieties.

For a business to innovate effectively, they require collaboration between several business divisions, including marketing, research, and development, management, legal, and finance, as well as from external resources that may include suppliers, consultants, manufacturers, vendors, partners, and users. Effective IP protection will reduce the financial risk of research and development for all these sectors.

If you need help with protecting your intellectual property, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.