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You Want To Do What? A Patentable Idea Does Not Make a Business

February 11, 2010

Many new to the world of products believe that a patented product is the sure road to success. Nothing could be further from the truth. While a patent can have value, it is only because others wish to purchase what you have invented.

Does Your Product Need a Patent?

To obtain a patent on your invention it must be useful, novel and non-obvious. The confusion comes in when someone equates having a patent to having a product people will want to buy. As I have said in blogs past, I do not believe anyone can judge for certain which ideas will succeed in the market. Having said that, some patents just beg to be questioned; take patent number US 2007/0050958 A1 for example. This one just does not seem destined to be a market success. Take a look and you be the judge! 

Brett Trout, a well know patent attorney here in Des Moines wrote a chapter for our book, How Business Gets Done: Words of Wisdom by Central Iowa Experts. He had a great description of a product not destined for market success, but certainly capable of passing the patent tests. The shotgun pickle slicer: a shotgun filled with tiny razor blades sounds new, non-obvious and potentially patentable. That does not mean anyone wants to buy it, no matter how proud the inventor. As Brett points out, a patent is your right to prevent others from making, using or selling your invention without your permission.  

We have all had that brainstorm for the "perfect product.” Assuming yours is patentable, the decision to invest in a patent goes beyond the legal question. You need to first determine if there is market need for your invention and that it solves a problem that people want to solve by trading money. 

If you haven't already, take a look at Brett's chapter in the BIZ book. If for no other reason than to read about the shotgun pickle slicer!

Square One DSM, an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, is formerly known as Business Innovation Zone (BIZ).