Do you patent before Kickstarter?

7 replies
Question for the kickstarter pros.

When you have an idea for a product that you want to put on Kickstarter how far along in the process do you have to be to get started?

Do you get a provisional patent first? Do you have to have a working prototype?

I had an idea come to me yesterday that I'm about 100% sure would gain traction on Kickstarter and I'm trying to figure out how to proceed.

Thanks
#kickstarter #patent
  • Profile picture of the author AntonioSeegars1
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    • Profile picture of the author dad2four
      Thanks for your feedback. Don't you have to worry about someone else taking your idea and getting the patent? Because this idea will be stolen as soon as it's out I'm quite sure.
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      • Profile picture of the author kk075
        Originally Posted by dad2four View Post

        Thanks for your feedback. Don't you have to worry about someone else taking your idea and getting the patent? Because this idea will be stolen as soon as it's out I'm quite sure.
        Unfortunately, yes...people are free to start production on your idea immediately if its not patented. And while you'd have some legal recourse if you can PROVE that your Kickstarter page gave them the idea (which you really can't), it takes serious money and years of litigation before you'll ever hope to recoup anything...if you win at all.

        I'm sort of in the same boat; I have a great social media idea and I have no idea what to do with it. If I pitch an investor, what stops them from just running with it and leaving me out to dry? I had the one investor I talked to so far sign a non disclosure so I'm okay there, but I really have no idea what my next step is. My idea is a website though and that's different from an actual product.
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        • Profile picture of the author kilgore
          I think what most people on this thread are missing is that you can't patent an idea. You can patent a process or a method and you can patent a specific machine -- but you can't just patent the function or the purpose of the machine. In other words you patent the "how" something works not the "what" something does. Thus, unless you give out detailed schematics on the inner workings of your invention on Kickstarter, a patent isn't probably going help you anyway -- at least on Kickstarter (there may be plenty of other good reasons to get a patent, however). That said, from my experience if you have an idea, but no prototype, raising money on Kickstarter is likely going to be very, very challenging -- not necessarily impossible, but very difficult. The thing is that ideas are dime a dozen. Execution is everything.

          Which leads me to...

          Originally Posted by kk075 View Post

          I'm sort of in the same boat; I have a great social media idea and I have no idea what to do with it. If I pitch an investor, what stops them from just running with it and leaving me out to dry? I had the one investor I talked to so far sign a non disclosure so I'm okay there, but I really have no idea what my next step is. My idea is a website though and that's different from an actual product.
          As I said above, ideas are the easy part. Execution is where the money is. And most investors have no desire to execute -- nor should they. Their job is to finance good ideas, your job is to make them happen. So yes, after you pitch them, they could just hire their own team and implement your idea -- and I'd be lying if I said that sort of thing has never, ever happened.

          But the thing is, why would they? That would involve... well... work. And it's work that they either (a) don't have time for and/or (b) don't have the expertise to do. This is why when VCs evaluate startups the number one most important factor -- far, far more important than the idea or technology the startup is developing -- is the team itself. Can the team actually deliver? And when -- note, I'm saying "when" not "if" -- the idea doesn't work exactly as the team is hoping it will, is this a team that is going to be able to learn, pivot and succeed anyway?

          So as selfdisciplineacademy said above, people stealing ideas is an over-rated fear. Though in fact, it's one that serious entrepreneurs fear less and less. For instance, if you follow the startup world, you'll notice that there are few "stealth mode" startups anymore and those that do operate in "stealth mode" do so for a much shorter period. Instead, the trend is the "Lean Startup" approach advocated by people like Steve Blank and Eric Ries which is to get your product to market ASAP so that you can learn from your customers, iterate and pivot as quickly as possible. Screw patents. Just get something out there!
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  • Test the item on Kickstarter first, then go for patents...

    'People stealing ideas' is an over-rated fear..
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  • Profile picture of the author psresearch
    Originally Posted by dad2four View Post

    Question for the kickstarter pros.

    When you have an idea for a product that you want to put on Kickstarter how far along in the process do you have to be to get started?

    Do you get a provisional patent first? Do you have to have a working prototype?

    I had an idea come to me yesterday that I'm about 100% sure would gain traction on Kickstarter and I'm trying to figure out how to proceed.

    Thanks
    If you're serious about this, you should be talking to an attorney about the process.
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  • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
    Kickstarter is the way to go with many things. Patents are the way to go with others. You want to make that decision before you post something on Kickstarter. If you have a real legitimate invention that would make more money if it was legally protected long-term (to some extent) you would be better with a patent. It takes a long time for a patent and there are no guarantees you will succeed in getting it or that it will not take a lot of fighting to keep protecting it.

    If you want to go the patent route you might check out edisonnation.com. They are not a scam like some of the "kits" offered on TV. If your invention gets through their vetting stages they will also make deals with companies to sell your product. They take a cut of the royalties. They have some very large companies that go to them regularly looking for new products. Some people would not want to lose out on royalties. I view it as "outsourcing" a ton of time-consuming and legal things to experts with lots of experience and connections.

    Kickstarter is quicker and you will also know sooner if something has potential.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulie123
    Patent is not entirely necessary, however, if you are trying to brand a logo and/or name; I would suggest obtaining a trademark. My two sense!
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