Patent Hackathon: Let’s make our patent process faster!

Lital Nof-Sabbag

Have you ever wondered how we protect our intellectual property? 

As a SaaS company making strides in a tech-saturated market, we understand that the ability to innovate is imperative to our success. But, what happens when we develop an innovative feature? How do we secure our intellectual property? The answer? Patents! 

What is a patent?

A patent is a type of intellectual property. Along with designs, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, patents consist of legal processes that help individuals and companies secure the rights to their innovations. The owner of a patent is granted the legal right to stop others from using their invention, offering them a competitive advantage. 

There are three kinds of patents – Utility, Design and Plants. Our upcoming Patent Hackathon will focus on seeking Utility patents to grow our intellectual property rights. Utility patents, which are the most valuable and sought after, can be products and features that are web and mobile-based. 

An invention can be patented if it is…

  • Useful

Ideas are a great start, but if the inventions can’t do what the patent says they can, they aren’t eligible for a patent. 

  • New

If your invention builds upon something and creates something that didn’t exist before, it can be qualified as new. For example, even though chairs already existed, adding wheels to them was innovative at the time.

  • Non-obvious 

Not as simple as it sounds. You can only receive a patent if a person skilled in the domain wouldn’t think your invention is obvious. For instance, at first adding an eraser to a pencil was a registered patent. But after being reviewed, it was deemed obvious and canceled. On the other hand, Amazon’s one-click patent for a software that retains our details and reuses them in future shopping carts was challenged by its competitors as obvious. However, it was held as valid and to this day, has helped secure Amazon a massive market share in the online shopping industry.

What are patents useful for?

  • Preventing copy-cats

Like many other companies, we file for patents to protect our intel. If everyone copies our inventions, they may reduce our unique value proposition or benefit from our hard work. If we don’t file for patents, someone can work on the same ideas as us, file for a patent and then prevent us from using it. We need to stand out from competitors and patents help us do exactly that. 

  • Licensing and cross-licensing

You can profit just by having a patent! You can either license your patent to other parties for a fee or gain access to patents through an exchange known as cross-licensing. By permitting access to your patents, you can access other patents, which ultimately helps both parties thrive and continue to innovate.

  • Higher market value 

Having a patent portfolio increases a company’s market value. It also helps a company signal to the market that their level of innovation is high since filing for patents shows they are investing in research and development. 

Securing transparency with patents

Our guiding star is to lead with a product that customers love – and patents help us do just that.

Some may argue that the patent system’s strict requirements aren’t in sync with the culture we have set. Others may believe that it is all right  for people to copy us since we plan a few steps ahead. However, patents help in our ability to lead and stay transparent.

Once we file a patent and outline the steps that will make the invention work, the information is secured. We can then share our invention with the public. 

When we own our innovations, we have the power to decide how to use them – even if it means just holding them out for a ‘rainy day’ to even out the playing field. 

There is a strength in being open and transparent. It helps lead to the sharing of innovations.

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, let the world know this when he said, “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

As long as other companies use Tesla’s inventions to improve technology and don’t prevent Tesla from using their innovations, they believe that there is no reason to enforce their patents. 

We also believe in open innovation, but we can’t commit to non-enforcement at this stage. Still, our main motivation is to protect our innovations and features from being blocked by others, and we do that by securing the patents first.

The patent process within monday.com

1. Learn what teams are working on

Since we all work on monday.com, our Legal team can easily access ideas and projects to determine whether they should be patented. To find out about new projects, the team reads about new product features and talks to employees to hear what they are working on. We are always looking for new creations, so if you are working on something new, you can always send the Legal team a message!

2. Search for pre-existing IP

If something interesting is discovered, the Legal team does a preliminary search to see if it already exists. This is not a big part of the process since at this stage we rely on the team to know if it already exists. We are also in the process of evaluating patent analytical tools to provide a better view of patent trends and the general landscape in our field. 

3. File for a provisional patent application

This is a unique tool that’s available in the US. It’s a confidential application with far less structural requirements, that allows the applicant one year to develop their fully written patent application. This tool allows us to file quick applications while we release features on the platform and continue to work on them until they are ready to be filed as full drafted patent applications. Provisional applications are not examined and serve as placeholders. We can even file a number of related provisionals if another advancement was achieved. 

4. Develop the patent applications

Although we use provisional applications to have a priority date on the invention, will still need to complete the process of drafting the patent applications. This is where the Patent Hackathon comes in. We gather our recent provisionals and new ideas and then talk about how they set us apart from competitors. With that, the Legal team comprises the basis for our patent applications and returns to the developing teams to complete the drafting of each concept separately.

patent hackathon

Because the patent drafting process can take months, we wanted a faster way to complete the initial stages of the process.

monday.com’s Patent Hackathon

We knew that if we want to speed up this long process, we have to get the whole team involved. That is where the idea for a hackathon came into play. Why not get those who know monday.com best in on the action? After all, even if one person initiates an idea, the entire team gets to play an important role in the brainstorming process. 

Another plus of a hackathon? Making our IP processes transparent to the rest of the team. 

What’s more, by engaging the entire team, we ensure that the patent idea will inspire everyone to continue developing it and promoting new ideas. Even though we will not actually be writing patents in the hackathon, it will help us communicate with the rest of the team what features we will be protecting. 

The Patent Hackathon is a week-long strategy meeting where the Legal, Development, Product, and Design teams will engage in an open discussion about what features should be secured by monday.com. Ultimately, this hackathon aims to round up different teams and offers them a cool chance to come up with ideas, all while realizing how closely intertwined products and patents are. 

Are you ready to invent and patent your ideas? 

If you want to hear more about what makes a valuable patent from our patent attorney, join us this Sunday July 12th at 17:00 for the Kick-off meeting!

Join here!

patent hackathon

monday.com’s Patent Hackathon is a weeklong event starting July 12th where the Development, Design and Product teams get to play an integral role in expediting previous, ongoing and new patent processes. (Don’t worry if you don’t get to participate this time around – we will be holding more hackathons later on.)