California companies, entrepreneurs and inventors alike should carefully assess the pros and cons of applying for a patent.

California is full of many intelligent, driven and competent inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs. The thrill of creating something completely new and potentially revolutionary is real indeed. However, before rushing to secure a patent on a new invention, it is important that individuals and companies alike fully understand the benefits and potential challenges associated with patents. At the end of the day, a patent may not be the best thing for new invention or company.

What does a patent do or not do?

First and foremost, people must know clearly what power or rights a patent actually provides. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the powers associated with a patent are often contrary to what many believe them to be.

A person or an entity who receives a patent is actually not given any rights to the specific invention. Instead, a patent prevents any other party from selling, making, importing or using the invention in any way during the life of the patent protection. In most cases, a patent lasts for 20 years.

What happens to my invention if I receive a patent?

Forbes explains that once a patent is granted, what was once a trade secret is no longer. That means that any and all details as to the design or creation of the item patented is public.

Any other individual or company may use this information to begin working on replicas or even improvements to the original design. In this way, competitors can prepare themselves ahead of time for the date when the patent expires. This is a big reason that many entities choose to not seek patents for their creations.

What is involved in seeking a patent?

Pursuing a patent can be very expensive and very time intensive. For these reasons, many entrepreneurs or new businesses may be better off without trying to get a patent. When working to get a new venture off the ground, it may be wiser to put the focus on generating income and minimizing expenses.

Even if a patent is initially granted, there are three additional times during the life of the patent at which maintenance fees may be owed. A patent takes 18 months on average to be granted and that is assuming there are no rejections or delays.

How can I get help with the patent process?

A company or individual in California interested in learning more about patents for their businesses or inventions should always contact an experienced business attorney. Working with a professional who knows the specifics involved in seeking and holding patents can provide the best help in deciding when and if a patent is appropriate.