Patents should you have one?

People often think if they patent their idea there is nothing more to worry about as no one can copy it. This is wrong. A patent does not offer complete protection to stop someone from doing something very similar to you. The saying, “There are many ways to skin a cat” comes to mind!
I regard a patent as getting undressed in public. Everyone can see exactly what you have!
In reality, a patent is a full ‘open’ disclosure of what you are doing. When your patent is published it will be possible for others to see, in detail, your idea. If they like your idea they will find a way around your design and make alterations so that they can compete with you.
A patent does not make your idea succeed, it will only succeed if it is a good idea which can be produced and sold. Think long and hard before you apply for a patent because it is costly and may not give you the protection you are looking for.
Patent applications take time and cost a lot to obtain. During the period of a patent pending application, that is before it is granted, others can see what you have designed. If they like your idea, they will try to find a way to beat your patent by making changes to it.
Because of this it is important to get your patent agent to do a thorough search to see if there is anything similar to your idea. This can save you time and money. If the search shows a similar idea, you can then change your features or design, so that you do not clash with what is available.
Unless you have designed something that is ‘really’ revolutionary, it may be best to test the market with your idea to see if there is any commercial interest in it. If there is, then investigate the cost and timing of a patent application.
To protect your idea, when you show it to someone, you should get them to sign a confidential non-disclosure agreement.
However, a good Patent Attorney should be able to guide you on the best way forward and also carry out searches to see if there is a similar patent covering your idea.

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