Commercialization of a Patent
Once the patent issues, the ability to practice the invention is not guaranteed. If an inventor obtains a patent for an improvement of an earlier patented invention, it may not be possible to practise the improvement without first obtaining a license from the holder of the earlier patent. This situation is very common in fast moving fields, such as information technology and biotechnology. Note also that having a patent does not mean others will not copy the invention. Patent owners must enforce their own patents. A patent is enforceable only from the date of grant although in Canada, in some circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation for infringement back to the date of publication of the patent application.
Once obtained, the patent is property which can be sold (assigned) or licensed, or the invention protected by the patent may be brought to the marketplace by the first patent owner. If a patent is sold (assigned), the patent becomes the property of the buyer (assignee). If licensed, the patent remains the property of the patent owner but the invention can be used by the licensee under conditions set out in a license agreement.
In general, patent agents have expertise in obtaining patents and advising patent holders but not in product development and marketing. For an inventor who does not have the resources of a business enterprise, it is often difficult to obtain sufficient technical, marketing and financial support that is necessary to successfully market an invention. Assistance can be obtained from innovation centres associated with universities and colleges and from provincial and federal agencies. An inventor may also achieve commercial success on his or her own if he or she is persistent and resourceful in terms of seeking out and "selling" the invention to an entrepreneur or to a business that already is established in the marketplace.