Think you have a milllion dollar idea that you want to patent?
Million dollar ideas are common. Almost everyone comes up with an idea that eventually becomes a million dollar idea.
So why not patent everything you think of? There are a few downsides.
1. Patenting is extremely expensive and you have to patent internationally due to globalization and sometimes that is simply not possible.
2. When patenting, you have to detail what is novel about your idea. Organizations including Coca-Cola and Caramilk have elected to not file for a patent as they feel their intellectual propoerty is better protected by simply keeping it a company secret.
3. Patents only work when you are willing and able to sue an organization that has infringed your patent. If you don’t have the funds or a lawyer who is willing to work with you on contingency, you aren’t able to leverage the patent.
However! Patents are extremely important where you need to protect yourself for the 20 year timeframe it supports (pharmaceuticals). Patents can be important when you need to register your idea before the competition does and blocks you out of the market. Patents are great when you have the financial backing to protect yourself.
There are other options to help protect your ideas.
Copyrighting applies to anything written. Copyrighting is cheaper (free) and applicable to software and code writing. You can add a copyright to anything that you have written.
2. Keep It Secret.
Follow some industry leaders and have policies that protect anything that you deem as intellectual property. This can be documentation, processes, programming, or ideas. Simply don’t let just anyone know what you know.
3. Continue Inventing.
You have to assume someone is going to find a way to copy you. So the only true way to stay ahead of the competition is to keep re-inventing yourself and stay ahead. If Apple rested on its patents, it simply wouldn’t be Apple!