Britain has a long tradition of innovation but it’s perhaps worth remembering that not every invention is likely to result in commercial success. The national archives are filled with ideas from would-be-entrepreneurs that never quite made it into production. Moustache protectors, inflatable corsets and even spectacles for chickens may sound curiously comical, but they do offer some valuable lessons for entrepreneurs who are thinking of patenting a new invention.
As an intellectual property specialist, one of the most commonly asked questions I receive from business owners relates to the different ways in which they can prevent others from copying their ideas. For some, filing a patent application is an important step in securing investment to commercialise research and development – offering opportunities to diversify and expand. For others, it provides an opportunity to distinguish themselves from competitors, introducing new manufacturing processes or techniques which can offer significant commercial advantage.
In many cases, patents can relate to different aspects of an invention, so you can patent a process or method as well as a product. There are also financial incentives available. The Government’s Patent Box scheme allows entrepreneurs to claim Corporation Tax relief on the profits of patented technology. However, in cases where an invention is unlikely to enter into production, the benefits of filing a patent application can be questionable.
It’s perhaps worth remembering that filing a patent application is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Patents should certainly be considered before an invention has been disclosed in the public domain and it’s also worth giving thought to the geographical areas applicable to your business. Although, obtaining patents throughout the world may at face-value appear to be an attractive option, the likely costs of filing and renewing the patent over twenty years could run into tens of thousands of pounds. Therefore, consulting a patent attorney at the earliest possible stage will help you to make the right choices for your business.
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