- Black Belt
- Posts: 2414
- Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:32 pm
- Location: United States
Yeah, just file a provisional application with the USPTO for about a hundred bucks.
Don't worry so much about inventor's notebooks, as that's rarely appropriate for anything beyond sponsored research and development. And forget about trade secrecy, as just about anything can be reverse-engineered. The average inventor should not be looking for excuses for getting a filing date, because after all, that's what's it's all about. All this talk about notebooks, witnesses, diligence, secrecy, confidentiality, and so on...it all has to do with the patents.
And, as far as patents go, the best thing you can do is get a filing date. Then you can do away with all the concerns about notebooks, witnesses, diligence, secrecy, confidentiality, and so on. Once your application is on file, then you no longer have to worry about all those things. When all is said and done, the work you spend on those not-so-productive things will amount to many times more effort than it takes to simply file a provisional. Use a series of provisional filings as your "notebook"...as your evidence of development, if you like. They never get published without your permission.
Let's face it, any company interested in your project would not stand to gain too much by making the details public before your product is ready for sales, even if they intend to steal it. So, it's not like calling around scrounging for NDA's does anything for your cause. Learn how to file a decent provisional, and save yourself a bunch of headaches.
But do get in the habit of documenting every step you make, in whatever ways are convenient for you. That often means taking photos (with a datestamp, even better) and making sure they cannot be lost. That means printing copies of emails to friends and associates, containing dated information about your project. If you're not a great artist, then write a great description of what you conceive. Chances are, whatever approach you like best for documenting your concept, whether it be illustrations or a written description, is the same approach that will work best for filing your provisional.
You're right. It seems like many ideas do get conceived by more that one person at about the same time. I've always thought it was because different people tend to respond in similar ways, to the same trigger (whether it's a magazine article, news segment, etc.) and at about the same time. So, if you care about doing something with your concept, do you really want to take a chance with it? All else being equal, the law favors a filing date over notes, sketches, emails, or anything else.