The tech world runs on intangible assets: inventions, innovations, new technologies, novel designs, and one-of-a-kind processes. In a world without patents, these intangible assets wouldn’t be assets at all; instead, they would be free-floating property, available for anyone and everyone to capitalize on.
Sounds nice, right? But patented technology is about more than just ownership in the marketplace of ideas. It’s a form of creative stimulus, a rigorous system of protection, and a fair arrangement of compensation for innovators.
This article answers all your burning questions about patents, patented technology, and the need for sovereign authority rights in the tech world.
What is a patent, exactly? And how does it differ from other forms of intellectual property?
A patent is an exclusive right granted to an inventor that signifies sovereign ownership and authority. Essentially, it is a formal, legal grant that says to everyone, “you own this idea, and if others want to use it, they have to go through you.”
It differs from other IP types like copyrights (which cover expressions of ideas, but not necessarily ideas themselves) and trade secrets (which involve no formal government protection).
What Is Patented Technology?
Patented technology refers to – you guessed it – technology that someone has taken out a patent on.
Patents have special significance in tech. The tech world orbits around big ideas, emerging technologies and sometimes wholly novel processes. Sometimes, these patents are for physical inventions, like the solar panel, the self-driving car or 3D printers. More often, however, tech patents protect non-physical things like algorithms, user interfaces, programs and technological concepts.
It isn’t uncommon to see a new, disruptive company file multiple patents to strengthen its market position and offer consumers more value. A recent example is Nobul, a real estate digital marketplace owned by Regan McGee.
Speaking with Medium, McGee reveals that the company is “always adding cool, interesting functionalities to (its) platform” and is currently “preparing to file three more patents for exciting technology.”
The Benefits of Technology Patents
In a roundabout way, tech patents benefit everyone – from inventors to consumers. Here are a few reasons why technology patents are essential:
- They Incentivize Innovation: First and foremost, the security and profitability that accompany tech patents ensure that inventors and innovators feel incentivized. Without profits and protection to look forward to, inventors might (rightfully) channel their energy elsewhere.
- They Deter Needless Innovation Efforts: Without patents, multiple companies might strive toward the same technological ideas, wasting efforts.
- They Are More Protective than Alternatives: In the tech world, at least, patents offer better protection than trade secrets, copyrights, and other IP forms.
- They Are Strong Monetization Opportunities: There are a few ways to make money with a patent. Naturally, you can develop products and services from the patent. But you can also license a patent or sell the patent.
Patents are a cornerstone element of the modern tech and business worlds. They foster innovation through monetary incentives and legal safeguards, ensuring that innovators are compensated and protected throughout their intellectual pursuits. They deter wasteful, simultaneous innovation efforts by formalizing a single intellectual property owner.
And more generally, they formalize a process that has the potential to be chaotic. Absent a patent system, the tech world might be a patchwork of overlapping ideas, bad faith actors, and unmotivated entrepreneurs.