To Patent or not to Patent

If your invention is at least reasonably valuable and has some newness to it, you ought to think about patenting it. 

If it: 

  • CANNOT be copied by a competent group when they've seen what you've done: DON'T PATENT, keep it a secret. Coca Cola kept its recipe secret for a hundred years. Of "our" companies, at least Ellen AB and Midsummer AB keep secrets. 
  • CAN be copied by a competent group when they've seen what you've done: PATENT IT

When you patent something, you publish exactly how to reproduce your idea, and in return for publishing, you get to use your idea without copying for 20 years. That is supposedly the deal between society and the inventor.  

It doesn't actually work entirely that way, unfortunately. 

  • If the invention may or may not be worth very much, and is in the area where your company is active, it is probably a good idea to patent. If and when you sell your company, your patents can justify a higher price for the company than standard valuation models would suggest. Patents also impress potential customers and scare off potential small competitors. Patenting does take time and effort from exactly the people who have the most to do otherwise, so there is a definite cost. It is generally well worth the effort. 
  • If your invention is extremely valuable, like Håkan Lans' invention of color screens for computers, then you have to have money enough to defend it BEFORE it is attacked. Your investor must have very deep pockets indeed, deep enough so the attacking large companies think twice about just using your invention. Go to a BIG institution. We're not that well off, so we're not the right investors for you.

The email below is from Håkan Lans. It's in Swedish.

If you want the .pdf file he refers to, email us. It features famous inventors whose inventions have been stolen, and asks the Swedish state to help guarantee patents.


Hej Jane,

Innan man söker patent skall man först fundera på några saker.

När ett patent publiceras får alla reda på hur uppfinningen fungerar och kan reproducera den (om inte så är patentet inte giltigt). Det innebär att det uppstår en stor risk för informationsläckage och därmed kopiering. För att ett patent skall skydda måste innehavaren ha tillgång till ekonomiska resurser för att kunna försvara patentet i en rättstvist. Om man inte har dessa resurser måste man finna någon som har resurserna när de behövs. När man fått en tvist är det försent att söka efter resurser eftersom man befinner sig i en tvångssituation där man tvingas acceptera vad som bjuds.

Jag bifogar en PDF fil med uttalanden från ett antal internationellt namnkunniga personer som klargör vad som gäller (se bifogade "Patent986-131110a.pdf "). Det är inte roligt att inneha ett patent som man inte har råd att försvara eftersom patentet då gör mer skada än nytta.

Innan vi försöker finna en tid att träffas föreslår jag att ni funderar på dessa frågor.

Bästa hälsningar,


Håkan Lans
PhD, Engineering Sciences

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