Defend market niche with patents: increasing leverage for startups
As a startup with a great business idea, you’re probably excited to get your plans out to the world and find a venture capitalist for investment money. A great product, though, needs thorough protection in a highly competitive business world. No matter what business idea you create, someone else in the world likely created the same thing and wants it protected. With this harsh reality in mind, it’s time to defend your market niche with patents as soon as you can. Time isn’t on your side either because if a competitor gets a patent before you, your product is likely dead in the water.
Recent patent rules changed this, which means all great inventions now go by when you file a patent rather than when a product becomes created. This is otherwise known as the “First to File, First to Invent” rule President Obama signed into law several years ago.
Now it’s all about timing, and it’s why you need to get a patent filed now if you haven’t. With added leverage, you’ll be able to accomplish so much more.
When Your Competitor Has a Patent and You Don’t
Once you head to a VC to ask for startup capital, they’re likely going to ask if you filed a patent. If you tell them no, it could end a deal on the spot. The reason is they know you have no way to make sales without protecting your product. One of the biggest problems is when you put your product out to the market and someone else proves they filed a patent first.
You have no way to defend yourself this way, and your competitor with the patent has legal right to accuse you of infringement. At this point, you have a tough situation to handle. It could lead to the competitor blocking you from being able to sell the product you actually created first.
All of this is the harsh reality of business today and making sure you don’t waste time patenting something immediately. Before you do, make sure a product isn’t already patented to save you disappointment later.
Real-Life Examples of What Could Go Wrong
You’ll find some real-life tales online of how companies faced disaster because they didn’t patent something in time. One particular story came from a SaaS startup that posted a question about patents on Quora.com a couple of years ago.
The company had a competitor that filed an earlier patent on the similar technology, leading to concerns of future litigation. When an entrepreneur answered the question, the answer was sobering: VC’s look for companies with long-term, competitive advantages.
Because the above SaaS company didn’t already own a patent, the chances were good a VC wouldn’t provide funding. While it depends on one’s business model, having a blocked startup due to patent infringement can lead to unfortunate outcomes.
Most blocked startups end up having to leave the business space or sell off their technology at a low price.
Advantages to Filing Patents Early
Waiting to file a patent doesn’t make business sense anymore, though it does more than just protect you in the future. Evidence shows seeking patents as soon as possible increases a startup’s employment. More precisely, it increases employment growth up to 36% over a five year’s time.
Those same statistics show an even greater effect on sale growth with a patent. When a VC knows you filed first, they’ll give you the capital and publicity necessary to get you known to your targeted customers.
INFINIDAT Setting a Good Example
It’s rare to see startup unicorns, though INFINIDAT is one of the best examples out there thanks to filing patents early. They managed to do this with just 100 customers, which led to them becoming a leader in their field of data protection.
If there’s any model for you to follow, you should study INFINIDAT‘s path to see what’s possible when you take the initiative to avoid patent filing delays.
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