This is an incredibly tough question for an entrepreneur to answer. If you have an innovative product that customers are clamoring for now, should you start to sell it without a patent? Or should you just get to market first and try to gain a first mover advantage?
There is no one right answer.
But let me suggest some things to look for that might inform your decision making.
Get a Patent If…
- Your product can be useful for a long time – If your product will likely only be trendy or useful for 12 to 24 months, then there is no sense in wasting time on a patent, just sell, sell, sell.
- You have the funding to defend it – If you spend every last dollar to get your patent, but have no funds to defend it when someone infringes upon your patent, then what is the point?
- There are few other alternatives to solve the same problem – If your solution is just one of many ways to solve the same problem, then a patent may not be useful because a competitor can simply use a different approach to solve the problem. If your solution is the only good way to solve the particular problem, then a patent would be more valuable
- You can afford a good patent attorney – If you can’t afford to do it right, then don’t do it at all. A poorly written patent is not useful at all.
Again I am not an attorney, so I would ask a respectable attorney as well, but these are some things to think about when you have to make the decision to patent or go to market.