I always come across people who prefer to start filing their patents in their home country. Most usually ended-up there and not proceeding to file in other countries. I guess it’s usually due to the cost involved.
I, on the other hand, prefer to file it differently. I like to start filing in the United States and then proceed with the rest of the world. So, here’re a few reasons why you should do the same.
1. United States has the world’s largest market value
This is the obvious reason particularly if you plan to penetrate the world’s largest economy. If it never crosses your business plan mind to sell your product or exploit your patent in the U.S, then you might want to forget this. But please do continue to read on. You might change your mind.
2. United States accepts provisional patent application which is cheap to file
A provisional patent, as the name implies, is like a temporary patent that gives you an edge in the filing date (also known as a priority date). With this, you could use the famous “patent pending” term to deter people from copying your idea and you have 12-month period to file your full standard patent (known as a non-provisional patent). And even if someone filed a full non-provisional patent after your provisional patent with the same invention, you are still going to get your patent registered for that invention since you filed it provisionally first.
It costs you little to file a provisional patent compared to filing a non-provisional patent. If you are a micro-entity which most people are, you only have to pay $65 (a 75% discount) to file one. The U.S is one of the few countries that supports provisional patents. Others are like U.K, India and Australia. I’ve yet to hear about provisional patent in the E.U. Once filed, you have 12 months to decide if you want to proceed to file the actual non-provisional patent. 12 months is sufficiently long to know if this patent is worth your time and money. During then, you could go and build a prototype or MVP and test the idea in the market.
3. There’s a higher chance that someone might infringe your patent in the U.S
It’s fair to say that the world’s largest economy might also be the world’s busiest economy. So, chances are someone might be infringing your patent without them knowing. Since your patent doesn’t show up in the U.S patent search because you didn’t file it there. Too bad!
4. It’s easier to sue someone who infringes your patent thanks to contingency fee
You could hire an attorney in the U.S to sue your infringer without paying anything upfront to them – thanks to contingency fee practice. All you have to do is convince your American-based lawyer that there’s a lot of money to be shared between both of you if you guys win the case.
5. United States upholds intellectual property rights
Unlike some other countries, United States have ironclad laws that protect intellectual properties regardless of your geographic location, as long that the IP crime is committed on U.S soil.
6. Owning a patent in the U.S could give you an advantage with investors
When the U.S is your target market or you’re targeting to raise funds from American angels or VCs, having a patent registered there could boost your eligibility to be invested. Here’s a fun fact – the infamous Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of defunct Theranos registered a few non-provisional patents with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for her startup. With these patents, she managed to raise over $700 million in funding and subsequently secured a $100 million loan from Fortress Investment Group to keep her company from bankruptcy, also thanks to her patents.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer nor a patent lawyer. All thoughts are mine.