Can the right patents help you sell more?
At the end of the day, patents must serve your business goals if they are going to be worth pursuing. The right patents can help you increase sales of innovative products. A winning formula boils down to:
- Getting the right patents; and
- Enforcing your patents cost-effectively.
How to get the right patents that matter
Not every idea deserves patent protection. Me-too products may be better off with simply trademark registration. Copyright registration might be an option if your product contains sufficiently original features that are nonfunctional.
When your product contains unique functional features, apply for a utility patent. If your product has unique aesthetic features that are nonfunctional, file a design patent application. When the novelty of your concept includes a combination of functional and nonfunctional features, it may make sense to file both utility and design patents.
Get utility patents (plural) with independent claims (plural)
Here are some strategies to obtain the right utility patents to increase sales. Try to get at least two independent claims allowed. That way, you will have more ammunition to use against competitors. If a competitor’s product does not infringe your first independent claim, it helps to have further independent claims as backup.
After your first utility patent application is allowed but before it is granted, file a continuing application to reserve the right to pursue additional claims. This tactic enables you to see how competitors will attempt to design around your first patent, thereby giving you the hindsight to submit different claims in the continuing application.
This is the situation you want to avoid: a single utility patent with a single independent claim without any pending continuing applications. If your utility patent application has only one independent claim that is allowed and about to be granted, file a continuing application right away.
Get broader design patents
We all know that design patents protect the appearance of a product, but do you know how to make strategic use of broken lines in the design patent drawings? Work with an experienced design patent attorney who can help you get a design patent that will be harder for competitors to navigate around.
How long will it take to get a utility patent?
Utility patents will truly try your patience. For most utility patent applications, expect the entire patent process to take about 3 to 5 years. You can expedite the examination of a utility nonprovisional patent application by filing a Track One request. If an inventor is at least 65 years old, a petition to make special can be filed without any government fees.
Keep in mind there is no guarantee that you will get a utility patent granted simply because you applied.
How long will it take to get a design patent?
A Rocket Docket request requires a prior art search along with additional costs. However, those additional costs may be well worth the savings of time in obtaining a design patent sooner to enforce against competitors.
How to use utility patents to increase sales
Hopefully, your utility patent includes multiple independent claims. You then need to determine whether your competitor’s products infringe at least one independent claim in your patent. An experienced patent attorney can help with this initial evaluation.
Assuming your utility patent covers your competitor’s product, you will have some options for enforcement. For products sold on Amazon, consider submitting a report of infringement. If the infringing listings are not removed, then consider the Amazon APEX evaluation case. This is where an experienced patent attorney would help.
A cease-and-desist letter may be an option, but it comes with certain risks. In particular, the recipient may actually sue you for declaratory judgment in their home state. Assess these risks before drafting and sending a C&D letter yourself.
Patent litigation is an option, albeit a very expensive one. When the stakes are high, patent litigation may make financial sense. Consider litigation funders if you do not have the financial resources to pay for an expensive patent lawsuit.
How to use design patents to boost sales
Design patents can be quite effective in blocking competitors from selling copycat products. For products sold on Amazon, you can submit a report of infringement identifying your design patent number and the infringing listings by ASIN number.
APEX is not available for design patents, but you can request an Amazon neutral design patent evaluation. We have successfully requested design patent evaluations for our clients.
Needs patents to increase sales?
Invest in patents wisely. Get the right patents with broader claims. Use them effectively to stop competitors from copying you. Call US patent and trademark attorney Vic Lin at 949-223-9623 or email email@example.com to see how we can help you increase sales with patents.
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