Demystifying Patents: Common Myths and Misconceptions

Demystifying Patents

The world of patents is shrouded in complexity, leading to widespread myths and misconceptions. These misunderstandings can deter inventors and businesses from seeking the protection they need and deserve, potentially hindering innovation and growth. In this blog, we’ll debunk some of the most common myths about patents, aiming to clarify misconceptions and illuminate the true value of patents in protecting and fostering innovation.

Myth 1: Patents Are Only for Groundbreaking Inventions

One of the most pervasive myths is that patents are reserved for revolutionary or highly complex inventions. In reality, patents can protect a wide range of innovations, including incremental improvements to existing products, processes, compositions, and the design of products. The key criterion is not the scale of innovation but rather its novelty, non-obviousness, and utility. This means that even small enhancements that offer new functionalities or efficiencies can be patentable.

Myth 2: Patents Guarantee Market Success

Obtaining a patent does not ensure market success or profitability. A patent is a legal tool that provides the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, or selling the patented invention. While it can be a significant asset, the commercial success of an invention depends on market demand, effective marketing, and the ability to manufacture and distribute the product or service efficiently. Patents are part of a broader business strategy, not a guarantee of success.

Myth 3: Once You Have a Patent, You’re Fully Protected Worldwide

Patents are territorial rights, meaning they only offer protection in the countries where they are granted. There is no such thing as a “worldwide patent.” To protect an invention in multiple countries, inventors must apply for patents in each country where they seek protection, or they can use international patent systems like the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) to simplify the process. However, each patent will still be subject to the laws and examination procedures of the individual countries.

Myth 4: Patents Are Too Expensive for Small Businesses or Individuals

While it’s true that obtaining and maintaining patents can be costly, especially when seeking protection in multiple countries, the cost should be weighed against the potential benefits. For small businesses and individual inventors, patents can be crucial in protecting against infringement by larger competitors, securing investment, and negotiating licensing deals. There are also various strategies to manage costs, such as provisional applications, which provide a lower-cost initial filing option in the U.S., and prioritizing key markets for patent protection.

Myth 5: You Can’t Patent Software or Business Methods

The patentability of software and business methods is a complex area that varies significantly by jurisdiction. In many countries, including the United States, software and business methods can be patentable if they meet the standard patentability criteria of novelty, non-obviousness, and utility. The key is that the software or business method must offer a novel technical solution to a technical problem. However, the specific requirements and interpretations of what constitutes a “technical solution” or “technical problem” can differ, making it essential to consult with a patent professional.


Understanding the realities behind these myths is crucial for anyone involved in innovation. Patents are a vital component of a comprehensive business strategy, offering protection and potential competitive advantage when used wisely. However, navigating the patent landscape requires knowledge and foresight.

For individuals and businesses looking to protect their innovations, it’s advisable to consult with intellectual property experts, such as Underwood & Associates, who can offer tailored advice and support throughout the patent process.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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About the author

Serving U.S. and international clients of all sizes for over 15 years, Underwood & Associates has helped inventors gain valuable patent rights in furtherance of their intellectual property initiatives.