Do I Need to Patent my Invention Before Crowdfunding?
Understand how a patent can protect your product and why it is essential to file a patent prior to kicking of your crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfunding is undoubtedly a great way to fund your latest product. Thanks to sites such as Kickstarter and the advent of equity crowdfunding sites such as Equitise more and more entrepreneurs have sourced crowdfunding to get their products and creative ideas off the ground. However, if you’re looking to crowdfunding to get your company started it is essential that you understand the importance of protecting your company’s Intellectual Property (IP). This article will focus on why filing for a Patent is a good idea before launching your Kickstarter campaign.
Lesson 1 – Patent Before Revealing Your Secrets
If you have an idea that is unique and novel and you have taken some innovative or inventive step in creating this product then you would not want the hard work to go to waste. One largely unknown but fundamental aspect of Patent protection is that under the Patents Act inventions that have become part of the public domain are not patentable.
Once you have kicked off your crowdfunding campaign and showed the world how your invention works you may not be able to patent your product. This means that once you have demonstrated there is a market for your product competitors can simply copy your inventive processes and get away with it.
Lesson 2 – Internationalise Your Patent
Crowdfunding is no longer a domestic enterprise. In the dark ages Kickstarter campaigns were only available to US citizens. However, in the modern age we now have borderless crowdfunding campaigns. But what does this have to do with your IP?
As Kickstarter campaigns are publicised on an international platform, competitors from all over the world may be able to steal your idea without you knowing it. To protect your invention it is a good idea to file an international patent application under PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty). Doing this sets up a patent pending period (usually 1 year) in over 145 countries. During this period you will be able to commercialise your product and identify the countries where there is a viable market for your product. For more information on the international patent system check out LawPath’s guide on the Patent Application Process.
Lesson 3 – Check Whether your Invention Is New
One of the things to get your head around when crowdfunding your idea is to narrow down and focus on the area of your invention that is actually novel. If your idea overlaps with an already patented idea it is essential to pinpoint the main differences between these products. Pinpointing these differences will enable you to draft a specification that clearly identifies how your invention differs from those that are already in the public domain. This will also help with your crowdfunding campaign in general. Detailing how your invention differs from and improves upon already existing inventions is a powerful marketing tool and will help increase crowdfunded investment.
So if you have developed a super cool new technology that will make you millions be sure to consider the value of your IP. Patent applications are an essential way to ensure that your hard work is not stolen either at home or abroad. Learn the lesson friend, patent your invention before someone takes it!
Patent protection is essential for all new products that contain and inventive or innovative elements. LawPath offers a patent application service that will produce fixed fee quotes with a fast turn around.
Still unsure if you need a patent to protect your product? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to get fixed price quotes to get advice from an experienced lawyer or patent attorney specific to your needs.
Matthew is paralegal at Lawpath and is completing his final year of a bachelor of Laws combined with Political Science at Macquarie University. With a keen interest in IP law, Matthew helps startups understand the ins and outs of trademark registration, protection and enforcement.