When the idea is discovered, a lot of dreams and hopes are born together to build innovative and successful businesses. As an inventor, you think you have achieved something great, and your idea will help you solve many of your daily life problems. But what if you find that the idea is already patented? It feels like you’ve been hit by a brick wall, and all your money and effort go to waste. What should I do now? But don’t worry! You still have many IP monetization options I tried to describe in this article.
First, research as much of your idea as possible, identify any patents associated with it, and see how many are currently active. This is because most inventors and large corporations focus only on obtaining patents, but do not know the right commercialization strategy. Some of them try but fail. As a result, they eventually give up their patents. Here’s a good example of this below:
Catherine Hettinger invented a small toy for her daughter two decades ago and was granted a patent. She used the idea with many toy manufacturers, but failed to find a partner to commercialize. As a result, she left behind a patent. Later, many Chinese companies came up with the idea, developing their own modern versions and making a lot of money. The product’s name is “Fidget Spinner,” which is gaining popularity with children and even adults in 2017. You may have heard of it.
What if your idea has active patents? You still don’t have to worry. Check the IP protection zone and there can be two scenarios:
1. The idea has active patents in a foreign country / region
A patent is a territorial law applicable in the country / region where it was granted. If you find patents on your idea only in a foreign country / region, you are free to use their technologies, design a strategy to commercialize, manufacture, market and distribute products in your country / region. But when patent holders extend protected areas to your region, you must obtain a patent for the patent family you are using.
2. The idea has active patents in your country / region
If you have discovered active patents for your idea that exist in your country / region, do not raise your hands! You still have opportunities to use your idea. Maybe your idea has some advanced features, which are lacking in patent. Patents may not be marketed that you want to target or inventors have tried but failed. This allows you to turn unused patents into successful products using an exclusive IP strategy.
Make a comprehensive study of all the elements of your idea and the various segments and market verticals of patent claims. If you find some unique elements, do a market research, develop them further and submit your IP application.
What if patents are successful and inventors sell products. That still doesn’t stop you. Make a detailed study of the products and technologies behind them and see what additional features you can add. Prepare modified product versions, set up meetings with inventors, and have the opportunity to become a part of successful businesses.