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FAQ: First line of protection, what do I do?

Postby bottleslingguy » Fri Sep 28, 2007 4:02 am

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FAQ: What is the first thing I can do to protect my invention?

edited by Scrupulous to include "FAQ:"

Postby Road Show » Fri Sep 28, 2007 7:12 am

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Document your idea in a permanently bound notebook. Fully describe your idea in plain English using pictures or drawings to illustrate the invention as necessary.

Get two witnesses who are NOT family members to read your notebook. Have them sign and date the notebook under a disclaimer that reads: "The above confidential disclosure has been read and understood."

Do not rely solely upon "post office" protection. Many people mistakingly believe that sending their unwitnessed disclosure through the United States Postal Service mail is recognized by the US Patent and Trademark Office as a legitimate way to document the date of conception. It is not.

Postby Scrupulous » Fri Sep 28, 2007 8:30 am

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While the U.S. remains a first-to-invent nation, a well-kept inventor’s notebook is probably the most secure means for protecting U.S. rights. The caveat is that it does very little for you, with respect to foreign rights. If the U.S. goes to a first-to-file system, which is looking more and more likely, then the notebook will lose most of its value in the states.

The other extreme is to publicize your idea pro-actively, giving yourself a one-year U.S. grace period. This effectively prevents anyone in the world from getting a patent on it in their own country, while it allows you to get one in the states. The caveat is that it prevents even you from getting a patent in other countries. But, if you have a U.S. patent on an idea that no one can patent in another country, then you have what amounts to international protection in a critically important way, which saves you the cost of international filings.

The interesting thing is that, although the U.S. looks like it will eventually go to the first-to-file system, it will probably keep the one-year grace period. This should make pro-active publications even more powerful than they are now.