There is a mythology associated with patents, not too unlike the Legend of the Holy Grail. When we hear about patents in the media or even in books supposedly designed to help aspiring inventors, the granting of a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office seems like the end of the journey. In fact, many books on the topic flatly state that an inventor should have a patent before he or she even thinks about approaching industry to make a sale.
There are few things farther from the truth. The only way that a patented idea can ever make money is if it is sold. Whether it is sold by you, the inventor, to the customer as a finished product or perhaps licensed to another manufacturer for use in their products, your idea has value—monetary value—right here and now if it is truly a great new concept.
A patent will not prove the feasibility of an idea nor its long term potential for sales and profits in the marketplace. A patent is not a stamp from the government stating it thinks that an invention has merits. A patent merely states that the government, to the best of its ability, believes that a certain individual or individuals are the original inventors of a concept, and are therefore entitled to exclude other people from utilizing the invention for a period of time. Therefore, it is important from a practical standpoint for most individual inventors to try to sell their invention even while they are still actively seeking patent protection. It’s also important to utilize an attorney who has extensive experience in filing patents, and practical knowledge about negotiating license agreements.
Tom Trinko, Principle, The Trinko Group LLC