A patent gives powerful protection for an invention – once granted it is illegal for others to commercially exploit your invention.  It doesn’t matter if they have actively copied you or not: if their product or process falls within the scope of your granted patent they will be infringing.

However, patents are also expensive to obtain.  So, how do you decide if it’s worth it? Here are some quick tips:

  • Disclosure: first of all, if you are patenting an invention, it should be kept confidential until a patent application has been filed.  So if you have any disclosures coming up (like field trials, conferences, marketing activity), you need to decide what to do!
  • Commercial Case: perhaps the core question to answer is to determine the commercial justification for the protection.  Will it help deter competitors from offering similar solutions? Is it a tool for raising investment?  Are you relying on the patent for “Patent Box” corporate tax relief?  Do you plan to license the IP?
  • Detecting Infringement: you need to think about how easy it is to detect an infringement of the patent. A patent has little value if you would have no way of proving that a competing solution uses your invention – this makes it much harder to enforce!
  • Other Protection Options: you might be able to protect the IP by simply keeping it as a trade secret. Alternatively, you can go the other way and make a “defensive publication” of your invention. This creates what we call “prior art” (see the “Disclosure” point above!) and acts as a shield that will prevent other parties patenting the invention and impeding your freedom to operate.

There are many other factors involved, and each of the above topics could be a separate blog, book or indeed PhD thesis in itself!  But asking the right questions can help make sure that you are making the right strategic commercial choices to protect your IP and add value to your business.


At Scintilla, we help innovative companies get a grip on their intellectual property. Our unique commercial approach combines registration of patents and trade marks with strategic input so that IP can be a springboard for business growth. If you would like to discuss your IP needs, do contact us or book a free initial consultation!