What Is a Technological Patent and How Can It Build Your Business?

by Admira Keric
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Great ideas inevitably attract imitators. That’s why innovative products and technologies need to be protected by a patent. It’s an important legal process that protects your intellectual property and makes sure that your brilliant idea remains yours. There may still be imitators, but their jobs will be much longer and harder to complete.

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What Is a Technological Patent?

A technological patent gives an inventor legal ownership over their invention. This invention can be a product, a design, or a process. For example, an investor might take out a patent on a new pharmaceutical or even a process used in manufacturing that pharmaceutical.

Once you have a patented technology or product, you have the right to decide who can and cannot use it. No one else can use, make, or sell that product without your consent.

The typical patent lasts 20 years, after which it usually expires and cannot be renewed, after which point the technology becomes public domain, and anyone can make or use it. This can greatly affect revenue in the future.

Technological patents can also be used for software. The mobile app economy has led to a boom in technology patents, but it’s not just the apps that can be protected. Processes performed by an app can be individually patented to better protect your innovations.

Examples of Technological Patents

When you have a disruptive idea, you need to protect it. Take Regan McGee, inventor, and founder of the company Nobul. Nobul is a digital marketplace that’s changed how home buyers and sellers find a real estate agent. Launched in 2017, Nobul was designed to change the way people found help with the biggest transaction of their lives – and who they would pay the biggest fees they would likely ever face.

In an interview with Toronto Life, McGee talks about having lunch with a friend in real estate when he realized how much more streamlined the process could be and how there was an unmet demand for more information about real estate agents.

How Do You Get a Technological Patent?

Apps and software can be patented like many other technologies and processes. They’re among the most commonly patented technologies for startup companies and entrepreneurs, as inventors base their businesses around their great idea.

However, they must meet certain criteria. For example, it has to meet the same level of novelty that other products must have to be patented. It has to have some non-obvious new element tied into its technical implementation, i.e., a feature or difference in functioning that a regular person would not be able to make themselves.

What Happens When a Patent Expires?

The expiration of a patent is sometimes called a patent cliff. The effects of your patent expiring are fairly predictable:

  • More competition from generic producers
  • A loss of revenue as you have to lower your price
  • Decreased production as profitability takes a downturn

The expiration of a patent is part of the lifecycle of new technology. Innovative companies always work on something new to push forward, even as old ideas become public domain.

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