Invent a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.
Sounds like a good plan – a quick search on Google for ‘better mousetrap’ returns just over 200,000 hits http://www.google.com/search?q=better+mouse+trap&rls=com.microsoft:en-ca:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7
So what do you do if your idea really does result in something useful? We’ve already discussed the concept of ownership of ideas, the idea itself is yours as long as you keep it to yourself. If you want to do something with that idea, chances are you’ll be looking at a patent to identify it as yours.
Patent is the legal protection afforded to inventions and innovations. Patent applies to things, or more specifically the way those things are made or work. A Patent provides the patent owner with a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of the device described by the patent. Patents may also be applied to methods of manufacturing or creating objects, Recently patents have been used to protect more esoteric things such as ‘business practices’
Obtaining a patent is not a simple process. In some cases, the legal fees paid to patent a device may be the largest portion of the development costs. Another challenge for patent owners – they may be considered an asset by the tax man, resulting in annual costs to maintain them.
There is a fundamental exchange between society and the inventor when a patent is granted. When applying for a patent, the applicant must reveal the details of how a works and how it is made. Once the application is filed this information becomes part of the public record. This means that for any patented device the general public, including any potential competitors, are able to look up exactly how that device works. Once the term of the patent has expired, other manufacturers are free to use the information to manufacture competing devices.
For an entertaining look at patents, have a look at these web sites:
Totally absurd Patents: http://www.totallyabsurd.com/
Crazy Patents: http://www.crazypatents.com/
Could an instructional method be patented?
If so what would need to be done to do so?