Patents often make the news in battles between big companies. But what we don't hear about is how important it is for any business to get a patent.
Just because you aren't a Fortune 500 company doesn't mean you aren't coming up with new and interesting ideas -- like how to streamline your business. When those ideas spur a new invention, you may be eligible for a patent.
The first step is to learn more about patents, and there's a lot of free information online. Here's a quick look at why getting a patent may be vital for your business:
A patent can protect you from lawsuits. Among other things, a patent sets the date an invention was made. If you don't file, it can be hard to prove that you had the idea first if another company claims otherwise. You don't need to use it against others, but a patent can be a crucial defensive tool.
Patents allow you to block competitors from using your ideas. Patents are most famous for being used as a weapon, and that's an option if a competitor steals your idea. If you don't file a patent, you'll be hard-pressed to show you had the idea first. With an approved patent, you can keep your competitive edge.
It's cheaper for a small business to file for a patent. Patents have a reputation for being expensive, but that's only partially true. There are discounts for small businesses filing for a patent, which can make it more affordable, CNNMoney reports. If you have an invention, copyrights and trademarks often aren't enough. As a small business, you can afford a patent to protect yourself.
It can be a good source of revenue. Having a patent means you can stop people from using your invention, but it also means you can make money off of it. If it's a popular idea, then other companies may want to license your patent -- and that means money for your business just for coming up with it.
Patents can attract investors. Like other intellectual property, an approved patent is a public record. Having your innovative potential in the public eye could attract investors who are interested in what your business is doing. If that's what you're looking for, find an attorney to help you file for a patent as quickly as possible.
To learn more about patents and the filing process, head over to FindLaw's comprehensive Patents section. Also check out FindLaw's free guide on How to File a Patent, which breaks down the process in a way that's easy to understand.