Say no to patents
26 May 2023 - Frans Vanhaelewijck
Don’t Do Patents: Focusing on the Whole Product is a Smarter Strategy
Navigating the world of patents is daunting, and complex. It’s a process that demands a lot of time, research, and most likely professional assistance from patent lawyers. And even when you’ve crossed all these hurdles, is it really worth it? I argue that it’s not.
You know where you start, but not where you end
Getting a patent isn’t just time-consuming; it’s an intricate task requiring an in-depth examination of the uniqueness of your idea. Is it a genuine novelty, or has it already been patented? And you need to articulate your invention in a way that aligns with the requirements of patent offices worldwide. A non-trivial layer of complexity on top of a complex process.
The administrative effort and financial costs are considerable. Preparing a patent submission requires a lot of your resources, involving your brightest minds to identify and define the patent.
And what’s the outcome of all this investment? After a long wait (often years), you finally secure your patent. But what’s next?
Think for a moment about the tech giants: Google, Amazon, Apple, and others. If they decide to replicate your patented concept, will you challenge them in court? Keep in mind that proving patent violation and seeking compensation could easily evolve into a multi-year legal procedure, with no guarantee of a favorable verdict.
Even if you do decide to go through all that legal trouble and pay the costs, during the interim, market opportunities will slip by, new inventions might emerge, and you’d be left with a substantial financial loss (and a headache).
The ‘whole product’
Here’s an alternative strategy I propose: focus on the whole product. This encompasses more than just your software product; it includes your brand, brand recognition, the service you provide, your team, and the processes you employ for customer acquisition and service.
Large corporations may indeed take an interest in your invention. Sure, they could disregard your patent and replicate your idea, but it will take them a significant amount of time, usually up to a year, to recreate your ‘whole’ product. Alternatively, if they value your technology, they might choose to negotiate an acquisition.
An acquisition allows them not just to purchase your product but also your brand, your team, and your established processes. This could potentially save them a year or two.
Think twice before diving into the world of patents. Consider to invest your energy into building and enhancing your product, your services, your brand, and your processes. A holistic approach that centers around the ‘whole product’ could serve you far better in the long run.