The first spark of an idea may be the easiest stage in developing the concept into a successful business model. Before anything can be done, a business plan must be written. And before you can market and sell an invention, you must patent your creation. Likewise, before you can sell a software program, service or even work of literature, you must acquire a copyright.
Both of these processes involve the protection of intellectual property. A patent can be applied for and attained through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Copyrights are acquired through the U.S. Copyright Office.
However, both of these processes cost time and money - precious resources that most entrepreneurs and inventors simply do not have. But depending on what your product is, you may not need a patent. "Not every product requires a patent," writes Carolyn M. Brown for Inc. magazine. "This is a costly process in terms of lawyers and fees - from $3,000 to $15,000. A lot of it depends on how difficult it is to duplicate your idea or reverse engineer your product."
The decision of whether or not you should patent or copyright your product should be made based on how well you are able to protect it. If the service involves recent technology, you can bet that competitors will son be creeping in on it. Protect your idea carefully, since it is the valuable product of your intellectual efforts.