1) Monetary Reasons – Many people file patents to monetarily capitalize one their innovations. By filing and being granted a patent, inventors can gain a monopoly over a technology for twenty years. Therefore, if your technology is revolutionary than any other inventions that build of your claimed invention will require use of a license of your patent.
2) Defensive Reasons- If a company sues your company, having a patent portfolio is important to be able to counter-sue. By having a large patent portfolio your company may avoid litigation altogether or be able to negotiate from a position of strength.
3) Licensing Your Patent to Larger Companies – Many larger companies will require an inventor to have at least filed a provisional application before talking with them. This is because larger companies do not want to sign non-disclosure agreements with inventors incase A) their research and development programs have already thought of the idea B) they want to have clearly defined boundaries of what they are licensing.
4) Protect your innovations – If you are a smaller start-up company, there are probably larger companies that have already a product distribution stream in place along with a superior brand. More so, larger companies may be able to easily improve upon your invention due to not having to invest in the original idea as well has having superior funds to expand upon your invention. Therefore, start-ups need to product their intellectual property to give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
5) Get Investors – Patents are a good way to get investors for their company. Investors like to know exactly what they are investing in. By providing a patent application or granted patent to an investor they will be able to review your company’s intellectual property, which may be wider than the products that the start-up is marketing.
6) Obtain a Public Record of Your Invention – Numerous times people have told me that they invented X product way before it was used in retail. But them saying that is akin to them telling me that their football team would have won state only if their coach put them in the game. By creating a public record of your idea, even if you don’t follow through with a granted patent, others will at least be able to see that you did in fact innovate a product.
7) Resumes – Filing a patent gives inventors something to talk about at job interviews. People you review your application will want to talk about your invention even if it is an unrelated field. This could give you a leg up in the job application process (and also make interviews less stressful). Further, if you are applying for a smaller company who works with technology they may not have anyone on staff who has gone through the patent process. Companies may value this experience even if it is nominal. Additionally, if you have obtained a patent in a field that is similar to the company you are looking to be hired for, they may view you intellectual property as an additional asset.
8) Freedom to Operate – By publicly establishing a date that you created your invention it may grant you a freedom to operate your invention even if another obtains a patent on the technology.
9) To Help Others – You might not be trying to make millions off your invention, but just disclose your ideas to others. Others may be able to search a database (such as google.com/patents) and find your invention and use it on their own. Without you publicly disclosing your invention, they may not have benefited from your idea.
10) You Don’t Want Others Stealing Your Idea and Capitalizing on it! – Many people don’t want big companies “stealing” their idea and then forming a monopoly over the technology for 20 years. In this time period, the larger companies may inflate the prices of related products because they can. If you were to file a patent before them, even if you didn’t go all the way through with the patent process, your application will be on public record and the knowledge disclosed therein would be in the public domain. As such, inventors can file patents to proactively stop others from forming a monopoly over their invention even if they do not want to monetarily capitalize on their invention.