Getting a patent may be a good idea. There are numerous examples of companies that have made it big by recording their Intellectual Property. You can read all about this in the e-book entitled 'The added value of a patent'.
Unfortunately, I also regularly see entrepreneurs fall into the same pitfalls. To keep you from making the same mistakes, I have compiled my Top 3. Make the most of it!
1. A six out of ten is good enough
When I was at secondary school, there was a boy in my class who always studied just enough to get a pass. His philosophy was: 'a 6 is a 10'. Theoretically speaking, he was right, but I didn't like the idea. Without wishing to g eneralize, I think it is fair to say that patent attorneys are perfectionists. For us, a 6 is never a 10.
And that is just as well, because wanting to do everything well is a quality that comes in handy when drawing up patent applications.
One wrong word, a typing error or a vague description can make a patent worthless. So my advice is: take your time when applying for a patent. Convince yourself that you and the patent attorney truly understand each other. And if in doubt? Don't cross the road. Never go for a six out of ten. It is worthwhile only filing the patent application when you feel that you are going to get a 10 out of 10.
2. You have no plan for your patent
What I often see is that people think: 'I have a patent and the money is going to start rolling in now'.
Unfortunately it doesn't work like that. A patent is a means to an end. It is not an end in itself.
If you want to make money with a patent, you can claim exclusiveness for your market. You will then also need to think about how you are going to track down infringements. And how you are going to tackle infringers.
Issuing licences or selling your Intellectual Property rights can also be a nice earning model. Alternatively you may want to qualify for tax benefits with the Innovation Box.
In short: it is only worth investing time, money and effort into this if using patents is part of your business plan.
3. Too much or too little protection
If you have already worked with a patent attorney at some point in the past, you will no doubt have heard of 'broad or narrow protection'. What is the pitfall here?
The moment you describe your invention in very specific detail, by mentioning the type of material, temperature or application, for instance, you will get the exclusive right to precisely that description.
For example: you have applied for a patent for a metal suspension system for radiators. The moment your competitor makes an exact copy of the suspension system, but from a synthetic material as opposed to metal, then he will be allowed to market it. He is not infringing your patent. The fact that the protection was too narrow puts an end to that. It provides a limited scope of protection.
However, if you were to apply for a patent for a suspension system for radiators, without mentioning further specifications, this patent would not have a great deal of value either. Why? The scope of protection has been described too broadly. The invention will not fulfil the requirements a patent has to meet, such as novelty and inventive step.