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Should you license or patent an invention first?

You have an invention that you want to license, but you also want to be sure it's protected against others attempting to steal it. You don't know if you should patent your invention first or submit your invention for licensing.

This is a fairly common question, because you know it doesn't make sense to patent something that won't sell, but you don't want to submit it without protection. What should you do?

Is a license better than a patent?

The truth is that you can do either thing, but it's better to seek the license first, before a full-blown patent. If you find out that your invention is marketable, it's at that point that you can put the time and energy into getting a patent for that product. However, there's a catch, and it's important: You should still start a provisional patent application. This application doesn't give you any rights except to show that a patent is pending, but it can protect you in some ways. For instance, to get a patent, you'll need to show that you "filed first" before using it in the public eye. Getting a provisional patent does that while allowing you to showcase the product to the people who need to see it.

The reality is that you need to file a provisional patent application as soon as possible to maintain your right to seek a patent in the future. Your attorney can help you file for a provisional patent to protect your ideas and give you a path to obtaining a more permanent patent in the future.

Source: IPWatchdog, "Should I File a Patent Application Before Licensing the Invention?," Gene Quinn, accessed May 02, 2018

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