In our last post, we discussed three ways to overcome the broken AI patent process. In this blogpost, we’re going to explain how to win the AI patent process – and protect your valuable AI idea.
Let’s review for a moment. What can lead to losing in the AI patent process?
1. The process is too complicated
2. You can’t get information
3. And it’s way too expensive
And, how to overcome these problems:
1. Get knowledge
2. Ask questions
3. Broaden your idea
But, only overcoming these problems isn’t enough. You want to win. And you deserve a patent for your AI idea. There are three steps you must take to win the patent war:
1. Create your patent strategy
2. Pivot your patent
3. Watch your competitors
Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps
Create your patent strategy
You have a strategy for your idea, right? Even if you’re just starting out, you’re already thinking about your product, as well as your customer base – and how you’ll sell it to them. As you build your startup, you’ll develop deeper strategies for your product, connecting with your customer, how to tighten up your pitch….the list goes on.
Patent strategy should be at the forefront of your startup to-do list. A super-effective strategy will help you get the most out of your patent. Your strategy needs to connect your patent with your business needs. As with any strategy, you should approach your patent strategy with a critical lens—and ask questions such as what to file, where to file, and when to file.
Quick refresher – patents are country-contingent, meaning that if you want a patent in the US, you have to file in the US. If you want a patent in China, you have to file in China. (For more information on this, check out our article on filing in different countries).
For example, suppose you plan to sell your product in the US and China, with a release date in one month. If so, you should file a patent (before your release date) that encompasses all of your product’s features. Why? Because in China, you can’t get a patent if you release your product first. A one year grace period only exists in the US.
Fortunately, where to file is simple. No matter where in the world you want to file, you can start with a US provisional application. Here’s why.
What happens if you don’t know where you want to sell your product yet? If you file before your product release date, you’ll have one year to decide – and more if you use a special international patent process.
Plus consider this fact– China has invested huge amounts in machine learning. Both government and private money has been invested – for example, Baidu. The Chinese government is pouring in millions of dollars and training millions of new AI engineers in order to dominate this area.
Do you want to see your awesome AI idea copied by a Chinese company? Then part of your patent strategy should be to file in China.
So you’ve developed your patent strategy – but suddenly you have to pivot. Where should you pivot.
Pivot Your Patent
This is the second super important step to protect your AI idea. When you pivot, your patent has to pivot too. Your patent is a tool to protect your business. When your business changes, your patent should change too.
Fortunately, you’ve already built the foundation to pivot. Why? Because you filed a US provisional application—giving you one year to figure out what your final patent should look like.
But what about your new direction? What happens if your new direction wasn’t included in the provisional application that you filed? Not to worry - you can file another US provisional application with your updated material. Now you have every component of your strategy protected.
And at the end of the year, you can file one application with everything included. You’ll reap the benefits of all of the provisionals you filed throughout the year.
Pivoting your patent is a lot easier than pivoting your business!
Watch Your Competitors
We talked about China above, and its plan to dominate machine learning by pouring tons of resources into the field. But, your competitors aren’t only limited to China—they’re all over the world. And they’re coming for your idea quickly – new AI startups are being launched all the time.
You need to watch your competitors, particularly in your vertical. You don’t want any nasty surprises – like finding out that your biggest competitor just published a patent covering your idea. You need to think several moves ahead. You can use your patents to block them – and not the other way around.
How can you watch for your competitors? First, think about what your competitors seem to be working on and how fast they are doing it. If they have a lot of money, then they’ll be moving really quickly. One way that you can neutralize their time and money advantage is by filing for patents that block their ideas. At the very least, you need to be certain that all of your great ideas are quickly protected in a patent.
And if you don’t block your competitors? Well, just consider the sad story of Pixite. They were blown out of the water by a much less innovative competitor – with much more money.