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  • Disadvantages of filing a patent

    A patent can be a very powerful commercial tool of significant strategic value. However, a patent is not appropriate for all new ideas.

    Patent’s are very good for inventions that can be easily reverse engineered, for example a mechanical device. In this case, a person cannot simply copy the mechanical device and avoid the patent.

    Some inventions are processes/methods. The output of a process may not reveal what the process is. Consequently, competitors obtaining a sample of the output may find it difficult to copy the process. Provided that you can keep the process secret, a patent may not be necessary. In fact, a secret may be preferable as it does not expire as a patent does. It may be difficult, however, to keep the process secret in which case a patent is preferable. Also, others may independently discover the process in which case the secret will not assist in preventing competition. It can be a difficult decision whether or not to file a patent and attorney advice is strongly recommended.

    Other inventions can not be patented, for example a recipe. If a patent application is filed then no patent will result for such an invention however the contents of the patent specification will be published revealing the detailed workings of the invention. In this case, a lot has been given away for no gain.

    Patents can be expensive. Patents are generally only suitable for inventions that have commercial value and are likely to produce income that will cover the costs of obtaining patents.