In developing a new innovation, patentability and marketability should be top of mind for inventors.While it is true that a product can be successful without a patent, it won't be as successful if it would be with a patent, because patents add unparalleled value and opportunity. By the same token, an inventor can bring the patent the most innovative and incredible product, but without a market, it won't be successful. Therefore, inventors should determine both marketability and patentability early on in product development.
The three major parts of patentability are: Eligibility, Novelty, and Non-Obviousness.
A marketability assessment examines a prospective invention from an economic standpoint. The results will provide key values for the prospects of the market/industry, the degree of competition, and whether there are barriers to entering the market or maintaining business.
A proper marketability assessment will answer questions such as: Is there a big enough market for this product? Is there a big enough consumer demand? What is the likelihood that the invention will achieve product-market fit? It's important to objectively examine the product, the market it will go into, and be very realistic about its chances of success.
Last thing firm wants to do is to have someone have a patent that hangs on the wall and collects dust. Inventor should get an ROI and monetize product. Don't just generate academic publications. Further the progress of positive change in the world.
Three Step Strategy
J.D. Houvener, founder & CEO of Bold Patents, believes in a three-step approach to determining marketability and patentability in the early stages of bringing an invention to market. The three steps are as follows:
First, an inventor should form an early conception of the invention, and begin to figure out how to bridge the gap from idea to invention. If the inventor does not have a physical prototype available, they should be able to articulate the idea through words or drawings. Once there is either a tangible prototype or a description that can be turned into a tangible product, bring the idea to a patent attorney.
Second, conduct a patentability search and work with a patent attorney to determine whether the idea is patentable. Does it already exist? Does it meet the eligibility requirements of novelty, non-obviousness, and utility?
Third, after determining that a product can meet the eligibility requirements, an inventor should begin down a dual path of sending in a provisional patent application and beginning a marketability accession. It is best for an inventor not to start doing R&D or product testing until the provisional application is filed.
Patent Success Matrix
The patent success matrix has the patentability on the y access and marketability on the x axis. The goal of the matrix is to encourage an inventor to take a holistic point of view of both factors of patentability and marketability to assess the likelihood of economic success for the product/service. In the third step of the strategy, an inventor should attempt to find where on the matrix the potential invention would fall. Generally, if an invention falls in the yellow-green areas, the potential is promising, and it makes sense to move forward. If the invention lands solidly in the red, it may not make sense to continue with this particular venture. Source: Bold IP Patent Success Matrix
Overall, it takes both a new technology and a solid business plan to make any product or service have a lasting impact on the economy. The strongest inventors, entrepreneurs, and business owners know that marketability (economic viability) is just as important as patentability (the ability to get a patent) when it comes to having a successful invention.
Want to learn more? Click here to see a 13-step guide on how to patent an idea!
Carly Klein is a law student at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. A graduate from Boston University with a B.A. in Political Science & Philosophy, she has previously served an Americorps term at the American Red Cross in Los Angeles on the Service to the Armed Forces & International Services Team.