Patents that Protect a Business Advantage

A good patent is one that protects a business advantage.

I often ask entrepreneurs to tell me your competitive advantage – what is the weakness in the market that you are going to exploit? This can be one or many market weaknesses.

For example, a competitive advantage is that your product is “easy to use”. We cannot protect “easy to use” directly, but we can patent inventions that make your product easy to use.

Say that your competitor has a product that is tailored for the high end of the market, where the competitor’s product gives the end user lots of flexibility and control over many aspects of the product. The competitive product might require a lot of training and experience to use properly.

Your competitive advantage may be that you simplify the user experience so that the user does not have to make so many decisions. Your product “dumbs down” the user experience so that a wider range of people can use the product with less hassle and better results.

The way this gets protected is to protect the key elements that make the product easy to use. For example, a competitor’s product might have many different ingredients that have to be measured and placed in different holding compartments. Your product might consolidate all of those compartments into a single, pre-filled container where no measuring is necessary, similar to the K-cup coffee machines.

In order for the investment in IP to be valuable to your company, start with your company’s competitive advantage or competitive differentiator from your customer’s standpoint. What makes you different from a business standpoint? Then, we can select those inventions that support your business goals to consider patenting.