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If your company has an innovative product or service, what can you do to protect it?

Of course, filing a patent is important and may offer protection in certain circumstances.

To do this, working with a patent attorney is a great idea, in addition to doing your own research. Although a patent may allow you to fight if a business is infringing on your patent, the reality is that it can be a very expensive game. And if the offending company has financial resources that are far superior to yours, then we are talking about David vs. Goliath.

A patent expert would be able to give you a much more nuanced view of the situation, with more detail.

But this does not prevent you from doing some of the following marketing actions that may offer additional protection on your product or service.

In the development of your product or service, plan updates, changes or improvements, so that if the product or service is copied, the old version is copied, not the future one. Software companies are an excellent example of using this tactic.

Develop a community. Whether for support, exchanging ideas, or encouragement or performance, online training applications are a good example. So, when people buy a product or service, they are not just buying an item, rather they are buying into a network that both the company and the customers can benefit from.

Develop an association with a complementary company. An example could be an association between a company that offers fitness courses and a company that sells home gym equipment. There is a good alignment; one manufactures the equipment and the other shows people how to use them. In addition, the two companies share the same customers and each stands out: the equipment manufacturer is distinct from other equipment manufacturers since it offers a plus: courses on how to use the machines.

Offer unparallelled support and customer service. The reality is that many of the copied products will be duplicated by companies from the other side of the Atlantic. Often they will only sell the product. Increase the value of your product with an exceptional warranty and 24/7 support. For some buyers, these offerings can get them to stay with you instead of jumping to less expensive competitors.

Develop a strong brand. Of course, this aspect takes time, effort, resources and energy, but it is one of the best protections against being copied. Think of Apple, Levis, Nike, MailChimp, etc. They are not the only ones in their respective markets, but they are often at the top of the list when it comes to thinking about the products they make.

Can these actions replace researching and filing for a patent? No. But one does not exclude the other. Take some of these actions in addition to filing your patent and you will be well protected.


Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
Marketing consultant