Continued from Part I........
Likelihood of Infringement and Business Value:
Similar to the attribute of difficulty in designing around, likelihood of infringement should also be considered in deciding whether to pursue patent protection. If you think that your competitor will need to implement, make or practice particular product or process features in order to compete, then you may strongly consider the patent process to protect these features. Often these product or process features can include implementations of a standard or valuable aspects of a product or process. Also, patented product or process features that are valuable to your business are typically similarly valuable to your competitor(s), and are therefore likely to be used by your competitor(s). If you are not able to keep valuable product or process features secret, i.e. once you sell your product, or provide your service, your competitors will discover the features. In this case, you should consider protecting these features with a patent.
Inventors often ask patent attorneys whether a specific idea is patentable relative to inventions already in existence. This is, of course, another factor in determining whether to pursue patent protection. Whether a specific idea is patentable relative to inventions already in existence underpins the concept of “novelty” under the patent statute. A feature that is not novel is not patentable. One might ask, however, how do I know whether my idea is ‘’novel”? An inventor is often an expert in his or her field and, if the inventor has not been made aware of the same or similar idea, then the odds are higher that the idea is novel. However, some prior inventions may not be known by an inventor in the same field. Alternatively, a search of patents and other technical materials may uncover prior inventions blocking patentability for a given idea. It should be understood, however, that searches are not perfect and they have limitations. For example, a search will not locate any U.S. patent applications that have been filed but not yet been published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office. As such, an inventor may consider the uncertainty as to the comprehensiveness of a search in relying on search results to determine whether to pursue a patent application. This blog just points out a few of the issues that an inventor may consider regarding searches, and it is important that individuals seek legal counsel regarding the pros and cons of searches in connection with any particular project.
In summary, when it comes to technologies best for patenting – ornamental features and product or process features that are novel, easy to detect, difficult to design around, likely to be infringed and have business value are great candidates for patent protection. To learn more about patent protection, or to speak with a patent attorney about your specific idea, please contact us at 503-439-6500 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to provide a free consultation to get you started with the patent process.