Inventors invent lots of things in their heads every day. A typical inventor will move from idea to idea while refining his or her designs. They create and don’t think about security. Even if it’s not clear which inventions will become successful, it’s vital that an inventor protect their rights for all their inventions.
Every inventor should thoroughly document all inventions. Ideally, this is done by keeping a bound notebook for recording ideas and improvements. The notebook pages should not be loose or be easy to insert pages into the notebook. This can lay the groundwork for a later claim of fraud. The documentation should be detailed, with each invention, modification, and improvement recorded and dated. Even greater protection is provided when witnesses are available to review the notebook. Have the witnesses sign and date the pages they have reviewed. Of course, showing the notebook to others raises disclosure issues.
Michael Corradini is the CEO & Co-Founder of IdeaPros. He recommends that inventors should always use Non-Disclosure Agreements (“NDAs”) when disclosing the invention to others. This includes sharing inventions with friends, family members, or potential business partners. “Use of such agreements is essential whether or not the inventor fears theft,” stated Corradini. A disclosure without an NDA might be considered a “public disclosure” under the law. This can have dire consequences for the inventor which includes the potential loss of all patent rights. Explaining these legalities to friends and family will often assuage hurt feelings that result from being asked to sign an NDA.
Finally, all inventors should be aware of the patent laws in the jurisdiction in which they wish to file for a patent. For example, in the U.S., an offer for sale or sale of the invention will start a one-year clock ticking. If a patent is not filed within one year, patent rights are lost. Many foreign countries do not allow the one-year grace period. A disclosure, sale, or other activity can cause an instant loss of rights. It is essential that inventors be aware of patent laws early on to avoid a loss of rights or present a filing deadline.
The three keys above should be top priorities for every inventor. Following these guidelines will prevent many problems that inventors are often left trying to solve after the fact. Inventors should always document their inventions, always use non-disclosure agreements, and be aware of the patent laws in their country. And, of course, they should continue to invent; that is what inventors do.
IdeaPros is a Super Venture Partner™ that guides entrepreneurs with great ideas through the complexities and pitfalls of the startup world. Set on elevating the success rate of new innovative products and apps, their team leverages their collective experience to create demand among consumers and maximize upside potential for their partners.