The process of getting a patent is both long and expensive - which is a really good reason to make the process work for you rather than against you. Here's our thoughts on how you do just that by aligning the process with your development
When applying for a patent there are three essential moments, you should make sure is aligned with the development of the product:
1: Before applying you should make sure, the product you're trying to patent is in sync with your potential customers. Changes after applying is time consuming and expensive.
2: 12 months after applying you know if your patent has been granted or not. It's preferable to start selling in the time-frame between applying and getting the patent. This way you will know, if your product will actually sell and to which markets - before you spend a huge sum of money to protect a product on a lot of markets that end up not selling.
3: If you're not ready to decide, you can postpone the decision for 6 months.
Let's dig a little more into each crucial moment...
1: Applying for the patent
Timing the patent application is key. You obviously want to apply before someone else does, but on the other hand, you shouldn't apply for your patent too soon.
If you do it too early in the development process, you might figure out later on, that some of the claims you've made isn't the right way to build the product in the end - and you'll have to start the application-process all over. That's time consuming and each application will most likely set you back somewhere between €1.000-10.000 depending on the advisory you get and the complexity of your patent.
Make sure that the solution your trying to patent is the right one. Do some tests with potential customers (without giving the idea away) before applying. The earlier you know the real market potential the better.
2: Deciding your market
After sending your patent application it takes 12 months before your know if your claims are granted or not. And when your patent is granted, it gets real: You have to decide which markets your patent should be active in.
The more countries you want your patent to cover, the more expensive it gets. We're currently working on a product we want patented in North America, Europe and Australia, and the total price of patenting alone will end up somewhere between €10.000-30.000 if we want patents on those markets.
Once again timing is important. From the day you apply for the patent you have one year to figure out where you can sell the product. It's expensive to protect your product everywhere, so if you won't be able to sell it in a market for some reason, it doesn't make sense to protect the patent there.
3: Postponing the market-decision
Deciding where the patents should be active is a BIG decision. If you don't want the patent in Australia, you can't come back later and reverse that decision.
In order to get a little more time before deciding on the ultimatum, you can use a PTC-application to postpone the decision.
With the patent we recently got, we hadn't started selling it yet. Instead of making an expensive guess we decided to postpone the decission by filing a PTC-application - a global patent that gives us 6 more months to figure out which markets we want to bed on.
Hopefully we will start selling in those six months and get a better idea of the market potential.