Patents, Patents, Patents

Patents, Patents, Patents and why we are not covering patents-sorry.  Patents can be a very complicated and expensive process, they can also be a very simple and fruitful process.  You maybe wondering how it can be complicated and expensive and simple and fruitful, it depends on the individual and what you intend to patent, there is likely to be a spoonful of luck in there as well.

People and companies apply for patents because it gives the patent holder the legal right to stop others from copying, manufacturing, selling, and importing your invention without your permission.  If you have been successfully granted a panted this may be enough to deter people from trying to exploit your invention and if a company does try to copy your invention then you have the right to take legal action to stop them exploiting your invention and to claim damages.

Like registered designs you apply for a patent as you want to exploit the invention to benefit an individual or company usually financially.

A patent allows you to:

Sell the invention and all the intellectual property (IP) rights

License the invention to someone else but retain all the IP rights. This is likely to be the most popular route as you typically make the most money and retain the rights to you invention.

Discuss the invention with others in order to set up a business based around the invention.

 

If you do not patent your invention, anyone can use, make or sell your invention without your permission.

 

Since we are not talking about patents, we thought we would show some interesting examples of patents past.

Let’s talk about some fantastic patents like Monopoly the board game.  In 1934 Charles B. Darrow had started selling the Monopoly board game and received the patent in December 31, 1935, see the original patent here.  Soon after he licensed the design to a company called the Parker Brothers earning him a tidy fortune.  There is some scandals around the origins of monopoly but that’s another story.

In contrast to Monopoly, the famous ice cold refreshing drink called Coca Cola is a good example of a company who’s number one selling product is not patented.  Coca Cola makes cola and to make this cola they have a very precise recipe. If Coca Cola where to patent the formula (recipe) of their famous drink it would be made publically available and then everyone (their competitors) would know how to replicate the famous drink.  As part of the strategy to protect the interests of their company Coca Cola have kept the recipe secret and very very few people know the actual recipe.

While we are talking about refreshing ice cold beverages we should mention a fantastic and simple invention by Ermal Fraze, the inventor of the modern pull tab on your soft drink can.  Ermal Fraze was an engineer and owned a successful engineering company, after inventing the pull tab Fraze started manufacturing the pull tab and used a patent to protect his invention that his business exploited.

 

There are companies which do sell products without patents, in these cases the company’s aim is to be the first on the market and first point of contact for consumers to buy their product, this requires a lot of work (as does anything worth while) and a good marketing and logistical plan.

 

Just as a reminder that this does not constitue as legal advice.  If you are looking to patent a project seek legal advice, it may interest you to know that in the UK it is standrad pratice for a patent attorney to offer a one hour free consultation about your project.  If you visit 6 patent attorneys then you have 6 hours of free legal advice thus allowing you to make a more informed decision.  Universities and Colleges are also helpful in highlighting organisations that will help graduate designers with IP related issues.

 

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