Ideas are great, but we must becareful not to get carried away. The reality are ideas are dime a dozen, execution here is the key. I recently wrote a post here that describes this issue:
So now we have that frame of mind, we need to look at what we want to do with this patent.
This is a multi-fold discussions with many considerations.
The Intellectual Property Protection Myth
Personally for me I have long given up on this IP nonsense. If your entire business plan is backed by an IP you got a problem. It takes only about a 10% modification of a design to over come an IP protection. Put it this way if you really wanted to take the effort to copy something its not really that difficult.
The reality is an IP only has specific coverage, and if your technology has value and multiple applications then by all means protect it and sell it. IP is a sink hole of funds, but if you can farm it out for royalties then go for it!
The real rules of the Game
The reality of things are a successful content (music, product, object etc.) is more than IP. It is a well oiled engine of branding, design language, technology, manufacturing, and marketing. All added together makes it a hard act to follow.
Just look at Apple? Their products not only push the edge of design minimalism, but their part construction is flawless and extremely difficult to replicate without specific technology. Furthermore any vendor that steps out of line with Apple will never survive due to their brand equity walking out of the door.
At the end of the day, my view is copy all you want, but you ain’t getting into the infrastructure I have created.
IP and Creatives
From a designer’s stand point, content creation NOT content protection will becomes even more and more important. It will also become a discussion of the difference between amateur and professionals. I coined the term Hyper-creative and that will be what design professionals need to become in this new product development era ruled by digital media and the Internet.
Anyways back to the issue at hand. You will be surprised to know that many, i say MANY products out today actually infringe patents. Check out this link that describes the Muji award winners infringing patents and you can see how easy this can happen. The reality of a patent is:
So you see patents are funny business. There are a lot more to it and you need to ask yourself is this really is what you want to do? Also another misconception is copyrights were meant for written work, NOT designs. You might like to investigate a design patent instead, where the outlook of a product is protected (not its function).
The acid test is simple, if a consumer mistakes a copied design for your product then this is considered an infringement. This in many cases is better for us designers as patents were meant more for inventions than forms.
Best of luck!