Research and innovation lie at the core of capitalism. Private companies develop new products, technologies, medications and devices to solve problems in our lives. In some fields, such as pharmaceuticals, the costs can be massive. One of the most central legal devices for protecting this investment is the patent. Patents are essential for protecting the commercial interest in developing ideas, and without them the incentive to invest in research and development would be significantly less.
Patents are legal documents which are designed to claim and protect a particular product, innovation or concept. They are designed to give inventors a means of safeguarding their ideas against copycat individuals and companies. The process for obtaining a patent is one that can take a number of years, and it can be extremely costly to get the right legal protections in place. However, the advantages that come from having a tight patent over a particular product or device make it worthwhile for those developing on a commercial scale.
Essentially, patents are designed to protect intellectual property, and to give an advantage to those who create it. Consider the example of the pharmaceutical company, researching and developing drugs to treat serious illnesses. The patent system ensures that the billions of dollars spent on research, and the thousands of labor hours invested in testing and bringing the treatment to market, are rewarded.
The patent prevents others from replicating the idea and profiting from it, thereby rewarding the initial innovation and capital. Without it, drugs would simply be copied en masse and sold at a much cheaper price, thereby stifling the process of private research. Indeed, this already happens when patents run out in this industry, with generic drugs selling for a much lower cost than the original product.
Whatever sector you are doing business in, there may be something you have developed (or have the capacity to develop) that could benefit from a patent. Studying subjects in this area can be tremendously useful. Students who study for a degree in international business often have an advantage, in that they will have studied the process beforehand. For those who don’t, and who have no background knowledge, the best thing to do is to immediately consult a patent attorney. This quickly becomes very specialized, and only those with the appropriate professional knowledge and training can advise on whether you can patent your innovation or idea.
Patents don’t last forever, and when they expire you will notice that successful ideas are quickly replicated. They don’t guarantee success either – you just have to take the risk that the idea you are trying to protect is a worthwhile one commercially. The process can take a great deal of time and expense to get right, but for the right development, it can deliver substantial returns over its lifetime. For those in the business of developing new ideas or technologies, this kind of protection is essential for ensuring there remains some viable way of turning a profit.