Patent Broker and Patent Brokerage FAQ

Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about patent brokers and patent brokerage firms.

Q: I have a terrific idea, but NO patent. Is it too early to engage a patent broker to represent my idea?

A: Yes. That’s why they are not called “Great Idea Brokers.” Contact a patent attorney, and see if he or she believes your invention can be patented. When you have a patent, you are ready to engage a patent brokerage firm.

Q: I have a provisional patent application. Am I now ready to engage a patent broker to sell or license it?

A: No. Understand that a provisional patent application is NOT a patent. It is not really anything at all other than a form filed at the Patent Office. It is very unlikely – nearly impossible, in fact – that a company will buy or license a provisional patent application. There are several reasons.

First of all, only about one-third of all provisional patent applications actually ever become a granted patent, so you are twice as likely to NOT receive a patent than to actually be granted a patent! If and when you do receive a patent, what claims from the original application – the Claims are what make a patent a patent – will make it through to the granted patent? What is a company going to do if it buys or licenses your provisional application, invests considerable resources in developing, manufacturing and launching a new product based on that application, and the Patent Office rejects all your claims and you have NO patent?

Q: I have a published patent application. Am I now ready to engage a patent broker to sell or license it?

A: Maybe. Only about half of all published patent applications become granted patents, so it is 50/50 that you will actually be granted a patent. And you still do not know how many of the claims in your published application will make it through to the granted patent.

However, if your patent is for a breakthrough (“disruptive” is the current term) technology, and you can find a patent broker who believes in the uniqueness and commercial potential of the invention covered by your patent application, it might be time to engage a patent brokerage firm. The challenge will be for your broker to find a business that also grasps the disruptive nature and commercial potential of the technology covered by your patent application, is willing to invest in it, and is prepared to run the risk that your application fails to produce a granted patent.

The vast majority of patents do not cover disruptive technologies, but are for improvements, enhancements and tweaks to - or variations on or the next generation of – existing technologies. In that case, you really do not have a salable asset until you have a granted patent.

Q: Should I apply for foreign patents?

A: Unless your patent covers an invention that would only be commercialized in the U.S., it is always a good idea to file a PCT Patent Application. There are over 100 nations that are signatories to the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty), so a single initial application can be used to apply for patents in any of the industrialized countries.

There is a European Patent that covers the EU (European Union) nations, so a combination of U.S., European, Canadian, Australian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese patents gives your invention patent coverage in 80% of the industrialized world.

We recommend securing a U.S. Patent and filing a PCT Application so the company that acquires your portfolio can then use the PCT Application to apply for additional patents in the countries in which it does business or plans to do business.

Q: My patent is about to issue. Should I apply for a continuation?

A: Absolutely! Taking a patent to market that comes with an open continuation gives the buyer of that portfolio the opportunity to tweak the original invention by filing for a new patent using the continuation. Having a granted patent and a continuation makes your portfolio more attractive to buyers and more valuable!

Q: How important is the commission a patent broker charges? Shouldn’t I look for a patent brokerage firm that charges a low commission so I receive more of the sale price?

A: No. Select the patent broker that has the greatest likelihood of successfully selling your patent! A larger commission from a patent brokerage firm that actually sells your patent is a bargain compared to a patent broker that charges less, but does not find a buyer!

Q: How long will it take to sell my patent?

A: Impossible to say. It could sell in a couple of weeks, or it could take years. Among those patents that do find a buyer, the time frame is typically two to six months. Large corporations – the primary buyers and licensees of patents – have a long decision-making cycle. Remember that a company buying a patent does not just consider what they are paying for the patent. They also take into consideration what the cost will be to develop a new product, or upgrade or enhance an existing product, from the technology covered by your patent, and that investment can easily be many times what they pay for just the patent.

Q: Given the option, should I sell or license my patent?

A: Sell it. The old “…bird in the hand…” adage applies to patents. If a company licenses your patent, you could win big if the product based on your patent is successful, but you could lose big if it never takes off or is just marginally successful – or your patented technology is made obsolete by some equally ingenious inventor who develops a technology that replaces yours. A company could license your patent but never go to market with it. Sell it and take the cash.

Q: I believe my patent is being infringed? What should I do?

A: Contact us, and we can refer to a patent assertion firm that can assist you in the enforcement of your patent. Patent brokerage is a totally different kettle of fish than patent assertion, so these two services are handled by totally different businesses.

Q: I have a question not answered here. Who can help me?

A: Send your question to [email protected]. We will do our best to answer it.