“Why bother getting a patent? I’ll never be able to afford to take anyone to court over it.” It’s something we hear quite a lot, and it’s perfectly understandable that clients are concerned about the cost of enforcing rights. It is true that litigation is expensive – but not understanding the full range of options and benefits can lead to businesses, especially small ones, missing out.
Firstly, a patent can bring financial benefits just by being granted – the Patent Box tax relief applies a reduced rate of corporation tax to profits which are attributable to a patented invention. For a profitable company selling products, the annual benefit from this tax relief can work out at many times the cost of getting the patent in the first place.
Next, if you do need to enforce your patent, there are now a range of ways in which IP litigation can be funded. Insurance is an option well worth considering, and for smaller businesses a range of “off-the-shelf” policies are available.
An annual premium is paid to keep the insurance in place, and as long as the policy is kept up, it will pay out in the event that you need to take legal action to enforce your patent. Importantly, policies are also available to pay your legal costs if an allegation of IP infringement is made against you.
A patent provides a deterrent, and our experience is that the deterrent works. For every patent infringement case we have been involved with in court, we have settled dozens of them without ever issuing a claim. That includes cases where we have acted for an individual or small business against a large, sometimes multinational, company.
The sheer size of an adversary can sometimes seem overwhelming, but a strong patent for a strong invention can be a powerful tool in anyone’s hands.