20 Mar “How do I protect an idea?”
A question that we come across quite often from clients as well as family and friends is “How do I protect an idea?”
Dealing with confidentiality is part and parcel of product development. Without going down the path of spending large sums of money on full patent protection, which can take significant time to be approved, there are some steps that can be taken by the savvy entrepreneur to minimise risk of idea theft.
1. Non-Disclosure Agreement.
The very first step of any engagement should be signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Your lawyer should be able to draw up something suitable to issue to suppliers or consultants you wish to disclose your idea to. We highly recommend that a Non-Disclosure Agreement is signed to protect your interests, and we encourage all our clients to do this with any suppliers, partners or other third parties they engage with regarding their project. There are other agreements that you can have 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.
Further down the track, gaining patent protection is crucial to ensure your new product or invention is protected. The process starts by filing a Provisional Patent Application that will effectively protect your invention for 12 months while the patent office reviews the details of your application. This period allows time for open discussion with manufacturers, assessment of the market, exploration of retail channels, and other commercialisation activities. At the conclusion of the 12 months period, a complete application is filed if you choose to proceed with patent process. If you don’t file for a complete application however, your provisional patent will lapse.
3. Design Registrations & Trademarks.
Similarly we recommend that you consider applying for design registrations, to protect the appearance of a product, and trademarks, 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.