By Alex Polyansky Feb. 11, 2019

File Now, Improve Later — The Ultimate Rule to Founders’ Success

leaning founder

A nagging question that every startup founder has to contend with is whether a concept is patent-worthy or not. As such, founders often grapple with indecision, feeling clueless about what idea constitutes intellectual property or not; and by extension, which one deserves patent pending status.

Successful founders will tell you speed to market is among the most important aspects when it comes to finding financial success in the dynamic business world. When launching a new product, strong founders do it quickly, then iterate and optimize based on feedback and insights to find the optimum design to help solve users’ problems. The best founders apply that strategy to patent pending as well.

With this in mind, getting patent pending status as quickly as possible once you have a new innovation or invention cannot be overstated. File that first idea for a prototype or a MVP, then file again continuously and consistently as you iterate and improve your product and reach big milestones.

Why Patent Pending is Urgent Business

Establishing ownership using patent pending status over innovations comes with numerous strategic benefits. Yet, during the early stages of development, you may have more questions than answers about the concept and the importance of patenting it. While this might seem like a viable reason for hesitation, it is in fact the most important reason to get patent pending.

Consider the following benefits that you will enjoy as a result:

  1. Time to Address Concerns and Assess Worth

Time is one of the most paramount resources during early conceptualization stages. You need to undertake extensive research, talk to relevant stakeholders and assess the viability of the project. With a PPA, you will get an entire year of patent pending status which is ample time to get answers to these and other pertinent questions. And with time on your hands, it would be much easier to get to know the actual worth of the idea and what makes it valuable. This way, you will be more likely to get the right form of protection over it.

In fact, the best way to assess whether you have something worth patenting is actually to go through the disclosure process. Compare the situation to making a job application. You can never really know whether you truly qualify unless you actually apply.

Similarly, no one knows for sure if any of their concepts are worth a patent. But they should trust the well-defined process which has demystified and simplified. Many founders have already gone through it and have managed to capture the essence of their inventive concept and newness even when they thought they had none to start with.

  1. Securing Competitive Advantage

Remember that patenting policies consider the first person to file (first to file) not the first one to invent. By hesitating to file a PPA, you could inadvertently be giving your competitor a window of opportunity to file and claim perceived ownership of the concept.

Furthermore, competitors are always quick to imitate successful products and sell them at lower prices. And if they happen to be larger enterprises, you might be unable to compete with the economies of scale.

It would, therefore, be irrational to wait to get answers to all questions before filing and losing what could have been the chance of a lifetime to a competitor who is not afraid to take risks.

  1. An Opportunity to Test the Market

The one-year patent pending status offers an incredible opportunity to polish the concept as you test the market. At the end of the day, every innovation should be a business opportunity. During the waiting period, find out whether potential customers will find the product appealing and if they would be willing to pay for it.

  1. An Entire Year of Secrecy

Writing a PPA at this stage does not require the inclusion of claims. It means that potential competitors have no way of telling what the provisional patent is protecting. During the ensuing year, you can study existing patent claims in search of a missing link. With time and research, you can file additional PPAs on other concepts that could help you improve your original idea.

  1. Determining the Next Move

Remember that for a concept or innovation to get a non-provisional patent approval, it has to have an outstanding point of difference from other products in the market. An entire year is plenty of time to establish a difference by comparing it to competitors. It offers a worthwhile opportunity to find out everything you need to know before you actually commit to making the next move.

  1. Monetizing the Opportunity

At times, the only thing standing in the way of conceptualizing a great idea is lack of capital. So, whether you feel that an idea is intellectual property or not, getting patent pending is a great way to secure financial resources. Patent pending status instills confidence in investors and can allow you to access financial resources.

In some cases, founders who are unable to commercialize an innovation seek out investors to use the concept in exchange for license fees.

If You Don’t, Someone Else Will

If you fail to apply for patent pending and your concept ends up being successful, you face the risk of losing your rights to a forward-thinking competitor. In such a case, you might have to discontinue the product or pay licensing fees for your own concept. To avoid this and other undesirable eventualities, make it a rule to always file patent pending whether you feel your innovation is something worth protecting or not.

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