As a new inventor you may be and should be concerned about protecting your new idea or invention. Keeping good records is key to start. Always document any activity involving your project and label your records starting with your name and date of entry. If you are going to need help moving forward with your idea, or you decide you want to show your idea to someone always present or request a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement before they review it. The biggest mistake for first time inventors regarding these types of agreements is using one that has no time frame for disclosure. In our opinion in order for the agreement to hold up there must be some time frame. A normal time frame seen on agreements in the United States is between 2 to 3 years. Longer time frames tend to appear in Europe, as much as 10 years. Be very cautious of any documents without a timeframe as they may not hold up in court. This happens a lot with invention promotion firms wanting to review your idea. They will not include a time frame just so you will feel safe and not question them. However, this shows they don’t really care much about your idea or you as the inventor. More often then not they are more interested in your money anyway!(We will discuss Invention Promotion firms in later articles with more detail). View this time frame as a motivator to keep you moving forward with your project and always use one regardless of who is reviewing your idea. You may review one of our confidential agreements at http://www.inventionsupport.com/submit.aspx. look under the terms and conditions section.
Aside from non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements another way for early protection is to file for a provisional patent. If you have determined your idea to be patentable then this application will give your idea one year of protection. It can be a realitivly inexpensive way to have time for initial work like research, development and testing. However, the patent office is very strict about disclosure and that one year time frame. You must apply for a non-provisional application within that year or risk losing the ability to obtain a patent. One option is to apply for the provisional patent after the initial designs and patent searching are complete. By doing this you will have a strong understanding of your new product and will not be wasting time on the provisional one year limit. Visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office for more details on provisional patents at http://www.uspto.gov/ .
This article is for information purposes only and is not intended nor subject as legal advice. Consult with your own attorney for clarification. All information expressed exhibits only the opinions of the writer.