You are at a birthday party or are having a drink at a pub, you are chatting away and then suddenly have a brilliant idea. "What a great idea. You should get a patent on that. You could make lots of money." We have all had conversations like this at some point. They generally do not go anywhere or, at most, lead to some doodling on a beer mat. It nevertheless exposes a problem that many more serious entrepreneurs have as well, which is the idea that you can automatically make money with a patent.
A patent is definitely worthwhile, but in the short term 'getting a patent' is mainly an investment. In the patent as well as in the patent attorney, who will look at the product and the market and ensure that everything is recorded as well and in as much detail as possible.
But what if the paperwork has already been done? The investment has been made, the rights are yours, this is when the big money starts to roll in. This is a common misconception. Having a patent does not automatically mean that you are going to make money. Nobody has ever got rich from getting a patent and then simply sitting back and taking it easy. What's more: if you were to do that, the patent would indeed have been a waste of money.
So has the misconception that you automatically make money from a patent simply come out of nowhere? No, because the investment can also pay off. It is just not a quick transaction.
If the product is good and invaluable, but you do not have any possibilities to manufacture and/or sell it yourself, you can sell the patent rights to a party that can. This is the fastest way to make money from a patent. This is probably the most interesting option for a beer mat inventor. If you want to retain the rights yourself, you can sell licences to other parties.
However, you can generally get the most out of patent by using it to influence the market. It defines an area in which your company is able to operate and it is impossible, or more difficult, for others to do so. You will be able to read all about this in a later blog.
Earn back your investment in no time
So it is nice to philosophise about what you can achieve with a brilliant idea on a beer mat, but a patent is no guarantee that you are soon going to make lots of money. It is, in fact, a starting point from which you can proceed. That is why it is always important to talk to a patent attorney and work out a good plan. That is the best way of ensuring that your investment is going to pay off.