Basic Training: V is for a View on Invention Protection

Posted on August 10, 2014 in IP & Social Media

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Q: What would be the first step for an invention? How can the idea be protected when others will need to be involved in the process of getting the idea to market?

A: It’s very difficult to protect an idea, unless you have found some way to “capture” it in a kind of tangible form–such as a writing, drawing/schematics, etc. The way people have tried to work around this when building prototypes is to use confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, which aim to prevent your manufacturers, designers, etc. from disclosing to others the information they learn from you, or from using it themselves. How you structure the agreements can depend on the nature of your invention and the work you’re having people do for you.

Your best next step is to consult with a local patent attorney (with an invention, you’d want to have one on board anyway). If you don’t know of one, most counties have a bar association that will have an intellectual property committee . . . make sure you find someone who is admitted to the U.S. Patent Bar (not all IP attorneys work with patents). The attorney should be able to discuss with you: 1. the full process involved in protecting an invention, 2. the costs and fees associated with the various forms of protection and 3. strategies for handling that “in between” stage of developing the prototype.

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