Coming up with a profitable business idea can seem like the big break that most entrepreneurs wish for. However, coming up with a good idea is just the starting point. In order to make money with this idea you have to take the steps needed to protect your rights to the idea and you also need to turn the idea into something tangible. The United States has provided the mechanism for protecting your business invention, it is called a patent. However, the patent process is outdated and numbingly slow, which can put the security of your invention at risk. Fortunately, changes have been proposed.
The Patent Process
In order to qualify for a patent you need something more than just a good idea. Ideas alone are not patentable. You need something physically developed in order to apply for a patent. This means you need a detailed description of your invention, a schematic and/or other supporting materials that show that you have developed a new product or that you are actively involved in the development of a new product.
If you have a developed idea then you will need to search the patent database to make sure your invention is unique. This means that it has to be significantly different from other patented products in the database. If your product is different then you can apply for a patent. This process will be expensive and time consuming. In fact, it can take years before your application for a patent is even looked at, and even longer before it is processed and approved or denied.
Fixing the Problems with the System
The problem with the patenting system has been acknowledged by the U.S. government. Their proposed system is to offer an acceleration or slow down service, for a fee. This proposed solution will enable companies to pay a large fee to get their patent application to the head of the line. The fee can also be paid to delay the application from being processed. This means that companies can delay the final fees that need to be paid for a patent while the product is being developed. If the product cannot be developed into a marketable product then the application can be killed and the company can avoid paying most of the fees associated with a patent. While these options will help those that can afford to pay for timing control, for most small businesses these fees will exclude the option for their patent processing activities.