Can Your Invention Being Knocked-Off Be Good For You?
That”s right. Sometimes, you may actually want someone to rip off your design or invention, even if it”s copyrighted and/or patented! Here”s why, and one situation where it “works” . . .
Patents, like all IP, stops at the water”s edge — that is to say, in order to get protection for your ideas outside of your home country requires some action in the countries where you want protection.
So, if you live in the USA, your most cost-effective protection for an invention is a US Patent. It (usually) works the same way outside of the US.
To get protection outside of the USA, you need to take certain actions
Such as filings via the Paris Convention, the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty), or in some cases, under other treaty provisions. This extra-territorial “protection” is EXPENSIVE.
An additional consideration is just what it is you”e “getting” in that country. For example, in some countries, you can only get “novelty patents” for which you receive NO presumptions prior to a lawsuit; in other countries, you may (MAY!) receive a patent only to discover it”s unenforceable by local courts (one major Asian country is known for this).
Further, even if you can get a patent, and get it enforced in another country, you need to estimate the market size, and the potential profit margins of product/service sales in that country.
When you add it all up, there are really only a few countries that economically make sense to move your patent into.
So, Consider an alternative: Beneficial Infringement.
This is a concept that hit me like lightening in the Philippines a decade ago. At a local market, I could have purchased nearly every “as seen on TV” item you can imagine (and, yes, I believe the identical products) for between 30-cents and $1.50, when the same items in the USA would have sold for 20-times as much. The Outrage! Then, I began thinking about something:
One manufacturing rule of thumb is that the cost of manufacturing drops by about 50% for each doubling in volume. Andrew Carnage knew this rule and used it to his advantage to consistently outbid his competitors.
So, what if you just let a manufacturer in China (or elsewhere) make your invention, boost the volume, and drive the price down so that you can import the item? The cost will be much lower; manufacturing defects will be reduced (and you can import the “premium” product), and it will be easier to scale your importing (and avoid “death by Walmart”).
If you embrace this thought, you can open dialogue and IP exchanges with a foreign partner who works WITH you to develop product.
At the same time, you enjoy the exclusive rights to import and sell the product in the USA (and, possibly elsewhere).
Besides, you”re probably not going to be the first US company to enforce a patent in . . . well, you know where.
*Disclaimer: this is just my opinion, your situation is unique, and you should only rely on the advice of your attorney (and, I”m not your attorney).
So, let me know what you think with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, and why not get a good discussion going by sharing this post with your favorite inventors and entrepreneurs?