Rather than going the patent route which costs thousands of dollars and 4-5 years (if it’s even issued), is it possible to effectively “protect” a product idea by trademarking a very specific tagline. For example, say I was selling a magnetic iPhone case. If I were to trademark the tagline “The World’s Best Magnetic iPhone Case” wouldn’t that essentially block most competition or at the very least make it very difficult for copy cats to market their product. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
All the competition would do is copyright the phrases…
“Worlds strongest magnetic iPhone case”
“Worlds lightest magnetic iPhone case”
“Worlds smartest magnetic iPhone case”
Reminds me of Grey Goose “The best tasting vodka on the planet”…
That phrase was completely made up by the owner and marketing team. Grey goose is absolutely not the best vodka on the planet, its a lie. In fact, its kind of gross. Last I read they were being sued for “false advertising, consumer fraud, and trade libel”.
All that being said, if you can prove and defend in a court of law that the “Magnetic iPhone Case” is the “Best” in the world, go for it. Even if you could, the competition will still make the strongest, lightest and smartest versions.
Another option is to trademark “The worlds first…”
People like buying the original. But unless you’re a giant company with expensive lawyers, don’t focus on owning the idea, focus on selling the products to the best of your ability. Only when your idea/product has sold does it become worth anything.
[quote=“TaylorWelden”] **But unless you’re a giant company with expensive lawyers, don’t focus on owning the idea, focus on selling the products to the best of your ability. Only when your idea/product has sold does it become worth anything.[/**quote]
…So do you suggest to just manufacture and start selling the product BEFORE getting any protection via patents or trademarks? Wouldn’t this back fire if your product sells but then a bigger company swoops in and patents the product, thereby, making your product irrelevant?
Copyright TM has nothing to do with the product itself.
Besides, how do you prove yours is best? What does best mean? According to who? There are probably 10 restaurants that have “Best Pizza in Toronto” all according to a different magazine/survey. Don’t know if anyone TMs the phrase.
Anyhow, If you TM “Best Magnetic iPhone case in the World” someone could probably TM “Better than the Best Magnetic iPhone case in the world”…
Patents are only worth what resources you have to use to protect them. Unless you have the $ to take someone to court, they aren’t worth much at all, and if you don’t protect something at first you eventually lose as you have to prove you always protect your IP.
Someone can make the same thing as you but probably would have difficulty getting a patent if yours was first due to prior art if you challenged the application or later made a claim.
PS. In any case, most people who think their great idea will make millions and a patent is the road to riches are wrong. Patents are very specific. You can make a magnet case, but there are probably 100 other ways to do it. Probably some even better than what you thought of.
For every billion dollar patent that brings a company to success I’d wager there are 100,000 patents that have had absolutely zero amount of commercial success in whole or in part.
You have 1 year from making your product public to apply for a patent. After a year, the product would be considered public domain and cannot be patented. I believe Taylor’s point was to spend your limited time, money and resources on getting the product to market instead of getting a patent. First to market positions you better than a patent in most cases. Although it is impossible to know whether to get a patent or not without knowing the independent claims.
Protecting your patent does not always require a boatload of money. A cease and desist letter is cheap and can do the job. Also, a patent case can be done on contingency. 1/3 of a $1 billion in the Apple/Samsung case would a nice little attorneys’ fee.
Another company cannot get a patent on something already existing in the marketplace. It will be considered either public domain or prior art, both of which cannot be patented.
Your advice is greatly appreciated. Didn’t know that first to market is usually more effective than a patent.
I highly recommend the book “Screw it, let’s do it” by Richard Branson.
Basically the point is, if had had stopped to patent or protect his great ideas when he had them, rather than switfly acting on them with ferocity, he would have been a nobody.
Designers should focus on designing things really really well. If you can design something that is untouchably better, the knock offs will have no chance.
Let the lawyers sort of the nonsense. Or when your firm becomes large enough to hire one, you can use them accordingly.
My last thought, or realization I suppose (and by no means am I singling you out!), is that most people, previously myself included, think this…
#1. Great idea
Which is simply not the case. There is no “Extremely hard work” in there anywhere.
In reality, it goes something like this…
#1. OK idea
#2. Extremely hard work
#3. Get screwed, stopped, lied to, stolen from
#4. Find a way around it
#5. Extremely hard work
#6. Extremely hard work
#7. Discover a better idea or refine the existing one
#8. Extremely hard work
#9. Extremely hard work
#10. Maybe break even with profits (this is a big maybe)
#11. Extremely hard work
#12. Extremely hard work
#13. Maybe make your first bit of profit ($100 or $1000)
#14. Extremely hard work, followed by a lot more Extremely hard work
By no means is it anyone’s fault to think in the 3-step manner. I think we all saw too many fairy tales growing up, where wishes are magically granted, and the poor turn into princes and princesses overnight. Ideally, our ideas would be so brilliant they could make us all rich. Ideas are free, they require no work other than a nap. Its the hard work after these ideas that make them utterly priceless.
I was just thinking about this the most recent time someone came up to me with an idea.
“Why doesn’t X product have Y feature on it? If we put Y feature on X product, it would make millions, maybe billions. Ok, go with it. If you profit, I want 50%!”