Thomas Robbins
May 23, 2011

Want to get a patent? Consider lottery tickets instead.


It is a bold statement, meant to shock, but there is a nugget of truth behind it.  Consider the following.

For $20k, a small company could buy 100 pizzas, enough drinks for 200+ people, and about 18000 scratch-off lottery tickets.  After a few hours of partying, the company will know whether the $20k “investment” has turned a profit or a loss.

For $20k, the company could alternatively have an attorney prepare and prosecute a US patent application.  After 3-5 years (of likely headaches and frustration) the company may fortunate enough obtain a US patent.  Note to reader: the patent is not currency and it is not a gift card - it does not guarantee money.  Unless the patent is a planned portion (a return on investment portion or a defensive portion) of a well-conceived business plan, it is statistically likely that the patent will not generate profit for the patent owner.

In a nutshell, for the company that is considering getting a patent, unless there is a well-conceived plan for using the patent (e.g., obtaining a return on investment or using it defensively), investing in lottery tickets may be a more efficient way of generating profit.

Clearly, the absurdity of the above-discussed comparison is provided to highlight the important notion that obtaining a patent does not equate to gaining money.  Patent savvy entrepreneurs and companies already know this.  However, for many small companies or start-ups, this may come as a surprise (but it is worth knowing).