John D. Smith, the author of Don't file a patent !, has asked me to review his book.
It is based on his reaction to having his patent application for hurricane window protectors rejected on three occasions, costing him a considerable sum. Much of the book covers the behaviour of the US Patent and Trade Mark Office. I do have sympathy, as often, I suspect, it costs more to patent a new product than the benefits of keeping out any competition. You also have to "police" the patent yourself -- find out about infringers -- and fight what could be a very costly court action.
Smith suggests that rather than patenting it is better to not do so, and to arrange with manufacturers to make it for you (rather than try to license it out to companies), and keep 100% of the profits. It also means you have 100% of the risk. He lists some famous products that have sold well but does not mention the many more that do not sell, or badly, due to for example poor marketing, a tiny market, a high price or an inability to compete with many products selling in the same market. It can cost £40,000 to tool up assembly lines to make a new product -- who pays for that ? Only 3% of published patent specifications, it has been suggested, ever make money.
The only use of patent attorneys, he suggests, is employing them for about $500 (about £314) to do a search to see if the product infringes existing patents. I would have thought that the US network of Patent and Trademark Depository libraries could have been mentioned, as they will do a search as well, and will help those who try searching for themselves. We'd do a search for about £150, by the way.
The most valuable part of the book consists of the many marketing suggestions. Mr Smith is clearly an inspired marketing man. For example he suggests mailing out the product in a clear plastic envelope so that people can see it on its way to the customer (only works for some kinds of products, though), and many gimmicks to attract attention to a product are mentioned.
The effective use of trade marks, and domain names incorporating them, is emphasized and I agree that they are often the most powerful tool available to sell a product.
The book is based on American practices and therefore is not always suitable for the European reader. It can be obtained through the Don't file a patent ! website.