Though crowdfunding is aimed at getting money for unfunded projects, the reality is that a minimum investment will be required prior to getting your crowdfunding project online. You’ll need a good plan covering from start to finish, including your production (in case of tangible goods) and distribution channels. You’ll need to produce a good video and have a strong social media presence to make things work. And, last but not least, you will need to protect your intellectual property side of the project!
In a cutthroat competition environment, with no lack of those eager to “eat your lunch”, both your brand and your product need to be protected. Make sure you have your trademark and a patent form filled before taking your project to a crowdfunding platform.
Trademarking or service marking is a relatively cheap process if you do it on your own. Unless you’re crowdfunding a local business, you better go for a federal level trademark registration. The cost for registering electronically your trademark at the federal level with international protection (TEAS RF: Trademark Electronic Application Service with Reduced Fee) is $275. However, beware that there are several different protections and forms involved, so consulting an experienced attorney is advised. That will cost you between $500 and $2,000, depending on where you live, but it is usually worth it.
Filing a complete patent form, however, is another ordeal altogether. The total cost can easily surpass $10,000, attorney fees included (you should not go without an attorney if you are not used to patent processes). However, there is a very cheap form you can fill that can give you good protection on your invention: a provisional patent form. By filing that form, your invention gets a “patent pending” status and you have one year to fill the complete patent application. That should be enough time to see if your crowdfunding project succeeds or fails. As with trademarking, you can fill the form on USPTO website (paying only US$ 65.00, which is the fee for a “microentity”).
You can always estimate your costs at the USPTO webpage.