Some patent pros and cons are that a patent protects your ideas, but it can be costly to get an invention patented. Patents are exclusive rights the law grants to inventors. The patent stops others from copying and selling the patented invention. After something has been patented, only the inventor, or patent holder, can make decisions about what to do with the invention. Options include manufacturing the invented object themselves or licensing other parties to use the idea; either one can be profitable if done right.

Exchange of Information

When applying for a patent, the inventor share details of his or her invention with the government and the public. The advantage of this is maintaining control of how the invention is made, how it's used, and how it can be sold. However, there are problems that can arise during the process of applying for a patent and waiting to receive it. These potential pitfalls include the cost and restrictions based on location.

Types of Patents

An inventor can choose between three types of patents when applying for one. The available patent types are:

  • Utility patent
  • Design patent
  • Plant patent

All of these patent types keep others from entering the protected market. It creates a form of monopoly, granted by the government, by blocking anyone else from making, selling, using, importing, exporting, or even proposing to sell the inventor's idea.

The goal of patents is to provide investors with the motivation to create and innovate, so all of society ends up in a better state. When a patent expires, the technology becomes available to everyone. In some markets, keeping competitors away from your ideas can be very lucrative for the inventor.

Utility Patents

A utility patent is also called a patent for invention. This type of patent provides protection for 20 years, so no one can infringe on the way your invention works. Utility patents cover five types of inventions:

  • Processes
  • Machines
  • Manufacturing techniques
  • Improvements on existing ideas
  • Composition of a material

Utility patents are the type most often issued by the USPTO, or U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patented thing has to have a practical purpose to get a utility patent, and you have to keep maintenance fees paid. Utility patents exist to protect the way something is created, including things like computer algorithms, machines for making things, the things being made, recipes for making food items, and ways to upgrade existing inventions.

Design Patents

Design patents protect the way useful objects are designed, rather than protecting the actual objects. The focus of a design patent is on protecting the appearance of something, or it's aesthetic. The purpose is decorative and functional, nothing more. It has to be for an existing product, and it has to add ornamental value.

Design patents last 14 years and are non-renewable. While it is a patent on ornamentation, it isn't for surface ornamentation, which would be something like a drawing. Also, if the design has been published or sold before the patent application is filed, the patent office won't approve the claim.

Patent Acquisition Costs

The cost of getting a patent can be fairly high. The costs begin with the hiring of a patent lawyer and filing for the patent. After you have the patent, there are maintenance costs to hold onto your rights along with reissue fees. Most inventions that are patented don't actually create an income stream due to the cost of patenting.

Patents as Business Assets

If you're trying to find investors or a business partner, a patent can be seen as an asset. Owning a patent can also put you in a stronger position when negotiating with someone who wants to buy your business by increasing the value of your company. It also provides a reason to invest more in the design and production of an item because it can't be copied by anyone else without them infringing on your patent.

A patented invention is the intellectual property of the person who invents it. That person has the exclusive right to its use, and he or she gains full control over the way the patent is used.

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