The Signal: Each week thousands of patents in the US and Canada quietly expire. Less than half have ever been commercially exploited, according to the Stanford Law Review, and all offer valuable inspiration in the ongoing search for profitable business opportunities. As our articles on both Hims and Alabaster show, free use can mean big profits. Expired patents are helpful because:

  • Each patent can speak to a consumer need, pointing you toward businesses you may not have otherwise considered.
  • They can resurface forgotten designs with new potential applications.
  • Some patents expire prematurely, offering you an opening against competitors.

Perhaps most importantly, the variety of the patent archive reminds us that consumer needs are varied and endless. Once you’ve seen 100 years of egg carton designs (94 patents in the US alone), you’ll never worry about running out of product ideas again.

Below, we show more specifically how some of this week’s expiring patents could inspire your next business move: