Once you've come up with an idea for a product or prototype, you may think that the difficult part of the process is complete. Unfortunately, you're incorrect. Protecting your invention will be one of the most difficult tasks you face as you attempt to bring your product to market. As you pitch your product and word begins to spread, it’ll be difficult to protect yourself if you don’t take the proper precautions along the way. Consider these three crucial steps and tips necessary to protect your invention.
Believe it or not, the patent process takes many years to complete. Your product’s lifecycle will undergo many changes and updates in this time, which is why it's best to start the patenting process as soon as possible. According to the Department of Commerce, “Patents are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. They give their owners the right to exclude others from making, selling, offering for sale, or importing an invention protected by the patent.” You should be aware of the following important terms and steps which can help you with the process of filing a patent.
Securing a patent is the best way to protect your invention. However, if you are unable to do so, requiring individuals to sign a nondisclosure agreement is an alternative way to provide protection. Even if you can secure a patent, nondisclosure agreements can provide an extra level of security and perhaps help you avoid a lengthy court battle as people are provided with a disincentive to share or steal your product.
Nondisclosure agreements typically stress the following elements –
If someone breaks their nondisclosure and causes you financial harm, you’ll be able to take them to court and collect damages. You should also understand what the other party expects from you. You may be asked or required to join a mutual nondisclosure agreement, which means the other party will be sharing confidential information with you as well. If you enter a mutual nondisclosure and use this information, you could be in serious trouble and sued for civil damages or patent infringement.
It's sad to say, but money is a tremendous motivator. Trusting your best friends or even members of your family can prove regrettable if you have not yet secured a patent or required them to sign a nondisclosure. They may find the measures extreme, but they should be understanding of the fact that you’re protecting something you’ve placed a lot of time and energy into. Even if you feel as though you can trust them, sharing your secret with someone before you have protected your invention can prove very costly. They could steal your invention and pitch it as their own, leaving you completely out of luck.