Monday, August 16, 2010
I get inquiries for all kinds of product development ideas. Usually, the products I'm asked to develop have differentiable features, but one thing I hear probably 85% of the time is *drumroll*
"I want to patent my product."
Is that even possible?
Yes, it is possible to patent a cosmetic product, but it's not likely. Most of the time my prospects believe they can patent the formula to keep it safe from being reverse engineered or reproduced. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. You cannot get a patent on a recipe and a patent certainly won't keep the formula safe. Securing a patent on a cosmetic requires scientific innovation. The patent is not so much on the end product as it is on the process or key ingredient that makes the product unique. The process or key ingredient must be completely new or have a completely new use.
Even if you can, I don't advise it...
When you file for a patent, you must give full disclosure of the product. I'm talking detailed descriptions of the ingredients, the equipment used, the exact formula etc. This kind of transparency means any and everybody has access to the product that was to be the ticket to your million dollar dream. Contrary to popular belief, patented cosmetics can and will be knocked off...legally. Think about it, lip plumpers and eyelash growth products have both been patented. But there are so many of them, who knows which was the original? and what's more, who cares?
My best advice is to develop an amazing product and file for trade secret protection. This way, the most important ingredient that makes your product a cut above the rest can remain a secret. With trade secret protection that ingredient never has to be exposed... Think Colonel Sanders(KFC)and Pepsi. Nobody has done chicken or Cola the way they have.
So while I know it sounds really cool and important to hold a patent on your fabulous product, it's likely more trouble than it's worth. I don't say this to crush dreams.. That's just not what I'm about. I say it only to make you aware before the dream gets too big and is crushed by reality. Think about what's really important-- having a patent, or having a results driven product that makes millions for you in the long run :-) Do you homework and take it to the bank!
Here's to the Glam Life!