Marketing your patent ideas
So you've finally got your patent. What's the next step? Marketing your patent idea. Now you can put the patent number on your product - which can be sold during the patent process - and as long as you remember to keep up with the maintenance fees, your invention is yours alone for a substantial period of time. A patent has a unique amount of kudos in commercial terms and legal weight which will, with luck, put people off trying to nick your idea. Although if they do attempt it and you have the resources to take them to court, you can make a lot of money. You can also make your patent work for you by licensing the idea. In fact, you can do this before you get the patent since the license is a legal contract in its own right. But it is predicated on the patent because in legal terms the license is a preventative measure against being sued for infringement by the patent holder.
Gaining a patent isn't the only element to marketing your patent idea, though, and it may not be necessary at all. There are various ways to safeguard your intellectual property in the jungle of business, including commercial identifiers such as trademarks and brand names, trade names (the legal name of the company) and any service marks such as membership of accredited bodies. As well as the protection they afford for your product, commercial identifiers are valuable - perhaps most valuable - for the goodwill they embody. Goodwill is the confidence and recognition which the buyer invests in a particular product: the reason someone will pick up one brand of oven cleaner, soft drink or possibly even car instead of another. It is extremely powerful, often more powerful than the individual merits of the product itself.
The right to a commercial identifier attaches, like copyright, when you create it - which includes, in this case, using it. But like copyright, it's better to be on the safe side and register it. Mark registration on a federal level is also done through USPTO and is a complex procedure. Again, it's a good idea to get professional advice on it as soon as you know you may need it. If you're registering your mark abroad, it's also important to remember that you have to use it or lose it - if it stays inactive for more than a few years the rights to it may be taken away. Commercial identity is also important - the sense within a company of it being an organic whole which the employees are working to build. A strong commercial identity will make easier things like keeping trade secrets, which can also do some of the work for a patent idea without the need for as much time, money or effort.