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Protecting You Ideas

Postby tony.fulford » Wed Mar 05, 2008 6:00 am

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Protectinng Your Ideas

I see so many post dealing with inventors that are reluctant to present ideas to prospective lincensees that I hope we can put this to bed. First, there are three (3) levels of ideas that correspond to the level of protection that you want to give them:
  1. A so-so idea, but worth the effort to get it licensed

    About half of the ideas I come up with fall into this category.
  2. An idea that you think has relatively good opportunity

    About a third of the ideas I come up with fall into this category.
  3. A great idea

    About a sixth of the ideas I come up with fall into this category. You must be objective and realistic, all of your ideas do not fall in this category).

You have three (3) paths to protecting your ideas as follows:
  1. Inventors Notebook

    This is an absolute must do for any idea that you have and should always be the first thing you do when you have and idea that you plan to move forward with. An inventor's notebook, when properly witnessed, is the most important piece of documentation you have to support your first-to-invent claim. You must also keep in mind that it establishes the date of your idea. If you record and idea, then the clock starts for due diligence and reduction to practice. If you record an idea and do not follow up with due diligence, you will lose your rights as first-to-invent. So I think you can see that a recorded idea is a double-edged sword.
  2. Provisional Application for Patent (PAP)

    A PAP is an additional recording of your idea and is located off-site so that there can be no further changing of the idea. If you change your idea, you must file a new PPA. This gives you enough protection that you should feel comfortable presenting it to a potential licensee WITHOUT an NDA.
  3. Utility, Design, or Plant Patent Application

    This is absolutly the best protection that you can have. I have NEVER filed a utility, design, or plant patent application. I leave it to the licensee to file and pay for the application.

Summary

You have got to remove the emotion from your decision when it comes to judging you ideas. Business people make decisions on facts, not emotion. Once you do that you can establish a realistic level of protection for your ideas.

There is risk in the inventing business and you must do all you can to minimize those risk. Most good companies are not out to steal your idea. Check out a company the best you can before ever contacting them. They are looking for new ideas for products and are willing to build the cost of milestone payments and royalties into the product cost if they are resonable. There is a product cost to them whether they do their own research or pay you for doing it for them. Many times their costs is less by licensing than doing it themselves. So just rremember to be reasonable and use industry guidelines when setting your cost to them. Quit insisting on and NDA for every idea. You are trying to create a partnership (not in the legal sense) and it takes compromise on both sides to make it a successful relatioship.
Last edited by tony.fulford on Wed Mar 05, 2008 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

Postby bhansel » Wed Mar 05, 2008 7:18 am

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Thank you so much! This is extremely helpful. Now I'm going to search around the forum to see exactly what's involved with an inventors notebook. I've never even heard of one!

:D Beth

Postby tony.fulford » Wed Mar 05, 2008 7:51 am

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Beth

Go to:

Hope this helps!

Postby bhansel » Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:39 pm

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Thank You!!

Beth :)

Postby makeworldbetter » Wed Mar 05, 2008 3:17 pm

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I still remember the old time when I was at Acer's lab (not that old, about 15 years ago). We had company issued engineer notebook. Which they would collect them from time to time and had department boss put signature on the last page.

Now the court also recognizes A "virtual inventor's notebook", in which one scans note pages and emails them to oneself, would likely serve the same patent contestation protection, the same chronological record, and would be less likely to be lost or stolen. However, confidentiality could be at stake using such techniques. (check Wikipedia)

I know the old book can be forged. Email can be forged, if you run your own server. (web based email hosted by a third party is ok I guess) I think the better way is to have a secure blog hosted by a third party, like Yahoo or Google. And you can log that event to serve the chronological purpose. Unless you can hack into Yahoo or Google, you can’t forge that.

Postby makeworldbetter » Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:01 pm

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Also I must mention that there is a drawback on filing a PPA.
If you had filed a PPA and you didn't file a non-provisional application within 12 months, you can loss the patent-ability.
Use Tony's example.
If A had filed a PPA at Jan 2007. Later, A changed his mind about some design so he filed another PPA at Apr 2007. If the old PPA still covers part of the updated idea. By Jan of 2008, A lost his patent-ability on that idea; not by Apr 2008. Since his old PPA can be raised as prior disclosure against his non-provisional application if filed 12 months after his first PPA.
Last edited by makeworldbetter on Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Postby tony.fulford » Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:01 pm

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Make

There is also a website that gives another offsite means of recording documents, go to:

Thanks