22nd May 2017
If you think you have created the next playground craze, ensure your invention is protected
If you or your business think you have come up with the next playground craze, you should ensure your invention is protected.
There are plenty of cautionary tales of entrepreneurs who have failed to profit from their creative genius, the most recent being the Fidget Spinner. These gadgets are the must-have toy of 2017, but the original product was patented in the US back in 1997 by a Florida-based inventor. She has not made a penny.
A patent can provide protection in specific countries for up to 20 years, but only if the renewal fees are paid. For the original inventor of the Spinner, the $400 renewal fee became too much when interest from major toy manufacturers and retailers declined, and she let the patent lapse in 2005. Now, millions are being sold worldwide. The lesson for entrepreneurs is this: while renewal fees can be expensive, it might just pay to keep paying . You never know when your invention may take off, and you want to ensure that you (and only you) profit when it does.
If you are a small start-up and cannot afford to apply for a patent, it is worth considering less expensive options for protecting your inventions. For example in this case, the name “Fidget Spinners” could have been registered as a trade mark to protect the brand, and the design of the Spinner could have been registered. You may also want to consider whether you wish to protect your invention in one country only (cheaper, but less protection) or internationally.
Just remember, when it comes to your business, it pays to be IP savvy.