There are many situations in which an inventor may find themselves pondering whether or not it is worth pursuing patent protection for their idea or invention. It is a good question and one worthy of further exploration. For the purposes of this article, we will be considering the typical circumstance of an individual inventor or small entity, as opposed to a corporation or other business entity. Additionally, the term "patent" as used throughout generally refers to a utility and/or design patent as opposed to provisional patent protection.
So, let's get started. When does patenting an idea NOT make sense?
Patenting an idea doesn't make sense when you cannot afford it financially.
If you can barely afford the costs of filing for patent protection on your idea, you are very unlikely to have the financial or legal resources necessary to effectively pursue an infringement case. Which begets THE question - why do you want a patent in the first place.
Patenting an idea doesn't make sense when it can be designed around or knocked-off quickly/easily.
If your invention can be reverse engineered, changed, and improved upon without much difficulty, you may wind up asking yourself why you spent thousands of dollars on a patent that has been eclipsed or leapfrogged by the competition just a few years down the line.
Patent an idea doesn't make sense when the invention isn't finished yet.
If you haven't finished designing or significantly improving upon your invention's design yet, your focus area should be self-evident. Consider, the most important claim in your patent might not have even been discovered yet because the invention is not finished.
This doesn't mean that you cannot improve upon your design as you go forward, but if the fundamentals of your invention evolve significantly while your application is in its pendency, you have wasted a lot of time and money putting the cart before the horse.
Patenting an idea doesn't make sense when the product is too inexpensive and the sales volume is not exceptionally large.
A fairly common rule of thumb holds that a product which is more expensive to buy is more likely to be a good candidate for patent protection than a small inexpensive item under the rationale that recouping the patent expenses is faster and more likely with a high-ticket item, and therefore more justified in the upfront costs.
Patenting an idea doesn't make sense when the invention has very limited distribution or a very small, specialized installation or user base.
If your invention relates to a very specialized piece of machinery or something with a fairly static and limited user base. For example, an improvement to the large industrial machine used by only a handful of companies in a very specific field, there is far less risk of competition, thus greater opportunity in seeing the invention licensed by the one or two manufacturers capable of implementing the invention successfully.
Only a patent attorney or registered patent practitioner is qualified to advise you whether or not your invention is patentable. So, you can get help from them. InventHelp is among them, they can solve your patent and ideas related issues. You can learn more about this firm through user reviews here: https://inventhelp.com/reviews. You can also learn more about this firm on Glassdoor page here: https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/InventHelp-Reviews-E152162.htm.
However, only you can decide whether or not retaining a patent attorney is even worth the effort and expense.
You have to be willing to detach from your idea emotionally and look at it objectively. You must not fall into the trap of considering your patent as a fall-back strategy. A fall back to what?
If you are not preparing to manufacture and market your invention yourself, you may be premature in filing for patent protection before you have a licensee on board. Every company makes their products differently.