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Why do I need a patent?

At the end of the day, all inventors really have are their ideas. In terms of value, however, they may as well be gold bullion since nothing could be worth more to creative and entrepreneurial thinkers.

The best way to protect intellectual property -- and end up with a marketable invention -- is to get a patent. That doesn't mean, however, that every inventor should run out and patent every new product or business opportunity -- the process can be extensive and costly. On the other hand, if you have a breakthrough idea or uncover a niche product with market potential, the benefits of a patent could prove invaluable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why you may wish to consider getting a patent for your invention:

Theft protection

Possibly the top reason people pursue a patent is to stop others from stealing their invention and bringing it to market. It's important to understand that being granted a patent is sort of a backwards asset. It doesn't necessarily give you the right to produce or utilize the item. Instead, it prevents others benefiting from the innovation without your express permission. That type of ownership can be valuable.

Garner investors

Intellectual property is a kind of brainchild and it can feel very personal. Your first instinct may be to start a company and make the idea real. That takes money and if you are interested in going the full entrepreneurial route, holding the patent gives potential investors confidence they won't be undercut by competitors. Investors will be able to look over your intellectual property and weigh its value and potential profitability in the marketplace. Frankly, most investors won't throw money at a clever idea or startup business alone -- they need something tangible, and patents build investor confidence.

Establish a monopoly

Being granted a utility patent can provide you with control over the product for 20 years. A promising invention can help you earn a nice living -- or you could sell or license a patent for a reasonable profit. Indeed, a revolutionary invention can make you quite wealthy. Think about innovations in technology during the last decade or two. Things change radically and the tech giants who patented innovations in years past ended up dictating how aspects of the market moved forward.

Patents are powerful assets

If you would rather license the item, a patent-holder gains an important negotiating position. Companies that produce similar things in the industry could pay you licensing fees and royalties to utilize your invention. Without a patent, a manufacturer may weigh the cost of potential litigation for producing a strikingly similar product. But with a patent, they're far more likely to work out a deal with you to avoid being shut down for infringing on your patent. In the end, a patent can put you in the financial driver's seat.

Whether you've invented an exciting new video game or a better mouse trap, it's important to not publicly disclose information related to our invention. Consult an attorney with patent law experience about best practices and how to protect your invention.

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