In such an expansive industry as that of logistics, technological innovations are ever-present and (no pun intended) drives competition constantly to pour more and more funding into research to gain an advantage over their rivals. For example Amazon over the last 5 years have filed approximately 300 patents relating to this field, giving them the undisputed rights to the technology that they have developed or ideas they have conceived of. Whilst many of these ideas may be somewhat fanciful and not really practical at present, should Amazon ever want to revisit such an approach down the line, they can do so secure in the knowledge that none of their rivals have stolen a march on them and improved upon their pre-existing knowledge.
Here in the UK, any patent has to be applied for at the Intellectual Property Office and within a year from the day you file for one, you have to include a description of your invention, the protection you want, and a request for a search of existing patents to ensure that you are not accidentally infringing on an existing patent. After 18 months, the patent if proven to be unique is made public and certified and from this time on can be enforced against those in violation of it.
Should a patent be violated however, legal action is the typical recourse that the patent owner can take against the guilty party. This can take a great deal of time and money to prove, especially if the transgressor is based abroad and your patent has not been translated into their native language. It is possible to have this done, but having such copies produced once again takes time and money to produce. Whilst patents filed in the UK only apply nationally however, subsequent applications to the European Patent Convention or the Patent Cooperation Treaty can enable protection from numerous countries all at once.
It's also highly recommended that for anyone considering taking out a patent, to seek legal aid in doing so as such documents are highly complex-as are the aforementioned procedures for enforcing them. Making just a single error can sabotage your application process, so it is certainly an investment worth making. Whilst there are numerous guides to what a patent is online, seeking specialist counsel is the recommended approach.
Ultimately if you believe that your firm's made a discovery that you feel gives you a significant edge over your competitors, then a patent is a must-have regardless of the financial expenditure or time constraints. Inevitably if your innovation yields such success that it attracts significant attention, you don't want anyone else to subsequently benefit from it. Before going public with something that you want to show off, having covered all your legal bases is the wisest course of action and protects your hopefully soon to improve market share from being compromised.