Patent Protection and Sales Bans: Does the Consumer Lose Out?

A company has the right to protect its innovation through the patent application system and rigorously defend any infringement through patent prosecution, but is there a gray area that jeopardizes a consumer’s right to a competitive market?


Take the recent litigation by Apple vs. Samsung  into account, where Apple alleged that Samsung’s Galaxy Note Tablet contains their technology and styling, and you could find an argument for consumer choice. When technological advances create a situation where the consumer market demands a synchronized approach to product usability, is it fair that an ongoing prosecution can effectively remove a brand from the market by stopping sales?


In this fast-paced world, is it viable to expect a consumer to spend days relearning a completely different user interface every time they happen to change brands? With the current fines levied on Samsung, there’s no doubt that Apple has had prior cause for complaint to protect its patents, but how will ongoing litigation effect consumer choice if a sales halt is called?


What may be the biggest cause for consumer alarm is the idea of a product monopoly, which could create elevated prices in the market. Patent protection and prosecution, with competitive consumer choice in mind, can therefore become a minefield for any company with a consumer-focused public image to maintain.


In the technology field, patent prosecution is widespread, so it is essential that patent designs are detailed and all-encompassing to create a clear route to prosecution should an infringement occur. Whether the route for prosecution should also entail a sales ban is something that savvy inventors and businesses need to discuss with their patent attorneys going forward in this consumer-lead market.


Five Reasons Why To Patent Your Invention

Inventors are commonly encouraged to patent their inventions, but the patent process can take time and resources to execute properly.  Some inventors decide that the cost is not worth the effort, and forgo the process, without realizing the significant benefits that patenting their invention can provide.


According to the USPTO, The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, ‘the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling’ the invention in the United States or ‘importing’ the invention into the United States.


Here are five reasons why it is important to patent your intellectual property:


  1. To Protect Against Intellectual Property Theft – One of the main reasons to patent your invention is that it is very difficult to convert an idea to market without interacting with parties outside of your company.  You’ll have to share concepts with investors and manufacturing partners in order to commercialize your concepts.  By filing for a provisional patent on your design, you gain legal protection against the unauthorized use of your concept.
  2. To Protect Your Company’s Ability to do Business – To put it simply, if you don’t patent it, someone else will, eventually.  You could not only have competition in your market, but you could also lose the rights to compete at all.  If this happens, then all of the investment that you put into your business could be for naught and you could become entangled in costly legal battles.
  3. To Increase Market Position – By developing a patent portfolio for your company’s intellectual property, you will increase your market position by limiting the ability of other companies to compete in your specific niche.  This increased market position and reduced competition can result in an increase in return on investment (ROI) for your company.
  4. To Guarantee Your Ability to Charge Licensing Fees– You may never get to the point where you fully commercialize your concept, but there may be others that have the resources to make your ideas come to life.  This is where licensing can be a great benefit.  By patenting your design, you can license the patent to a partner company, who then invests in the commercialization.  Your company then earns licensing fees for the use of the technology.  Without patents, it would be legally difficult to transfer technology to a development partner.
  5. Patents Look Good on Paper – A patent portfolio is tangible evidence of the technical expertise and commitment to development that you have instilled in your company.  Investors and partners will perceive an increased level of expertise, quality, and innovation in your company, which could lead to increased investment.  Investors and partners will feel a sense of security knowing that you have protected your IP, which will in turn protect their investment.


Patenting a product design can take time and resources to complete, but the benefits that patent protection can provide to your company can far outweigh the investment required.