When an idea is discovered, many dreams and hopes of building innovative products and successful businesses are also born. As an inventor, you believe that you have achieved something great and your idea will help solve many problems in daily life. But what if you discover that the idea is already patented? It feels like you are hit by a brick wall, and all your money and efforts are wasted. What to do now? But do not worry! You still have many IP monetization options that I have tried to cover in this article.
First, do as much research as you can about your idea, identify all the patents related to it, and check how many are active now. This is because most of the inventors and big corporations only focus on getting patents but don’t know the proper marketing strategy. Some of them try, but fail. As a result, they end up abandoning their patents. There is a good example of this below:
Catherine Hettinger invented a little toy for her daughter 2 decades ago and took out a patent for it. She took her idea to many toy manufacturers, but she couldn’t find a marketing partner. As a result, she abandoned her patent. Later, the idea was chosen by many Chinese companies, which developed their modern versions and made a lot of money. The name of the product is “Fidget Spinner”, which became popular among children and even adults in 2017. You may have heard of it.
What if your idea has active patents? You don’t have to worry yet. Check the IP protection area, and there may be two scenarios:
1. The idea has active patents in a foreign country/region
A patent is a territorial right applicable in the country/region in which it is granted. If you find patents on your idea only in a foreign country/region, you can use its technologies, create a commercialization strategy, manufacture, market and distribute products in your country/region. But, when patent holders extend the areas of protection to your region, you must obtain a license for the patent family you are using.
2. Idea has active patents in your country/region
If you discovered that there are active patents for your idea in your country/region, don’t give up! You still have chances to use your idea. It may be that your idea has some advanced features, which are absent in the proprietary ones. It may be that the patents do not reach the market you want to target or that the inventors tried, but failed. Therefore, you can turn those unused patents into successful products using an exclusive intellectual property strategy.
Conduct a comprehensive study on all elements of your idea and the different segments and vertical markets of patent claims. If you get some unique items, do market research, develop them further and apply for IP.
What if the patents are successful and the inventors are selling products? That still doesn’t stop you. Take an in-depth look at the products and technologies behind them, and see what additional features you can add. Prepare models of modified versions of products, schedule meetings with inventors, and you may have the opportunity to be part of successful businesses.