A question that we hear quite often from clients as well as family and friends is “How do I protect an idea?”
It’s a great question. Dealing with confidentiality is part and parcel of successful product development. Without going down the path of spending large sums of money on full patent protection, here are some steps that can be taken by the savvy entrepreneur to minimise risk of idea theft.
1. Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Firstly, anyone you engage on your new idea or invention should sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). This is key to protecting your interests, and we encourage all our clients to have an NDA in place with suppliers, partners or other third parties. There are other agreements that can be drawn up, such as Non-Compete agreements, for any contractors or staff you hire. Your lawyer should be able to point you in the right direction here.
2. Provisional Patent Application.
Secondly, it’s crucial to gain patent protection for your new product or invention. Start the process by filing a Provisional Patent Application. This will effectively protect your invention for 12 months while the patent office reviews the details of your application. This period of time allows for open discussion with manufacturers, assessment of the market, exploration of retail channels, and other commercial activities. Once 12 months has passed, a complete application is filed (should you choose to proceed with patent process). If you don’t file for a complete application, note your provisional patent will lapse.
3. Design Registrations & Trademarks.
Lastly, we recommend that you consider applying for design registrations, to protect the appearance of a product. Trademarks can also be used to protect brands, trade names and logos.
Through our supplier network we can put you in touch with an appropriate patent attorney and can assist in providing technical drawings and artwork as required.