New Product Launch? Triage and Protect your IP first!

New product development is the engine of our economy If you are an inventor who is trying to pitch a new, potentially marketable design to investors or manufacturers, you are a facing a complex situation that may feel difficult to maneuver. On one hand, you need to showcase and promote your invention to business entities and by doing so, you will inevitably disclose some important information about it. On the other hand, you may be acutely aware of the danger of idea theft and someone stealing your invention and capitalizing on it. How do you best tackle such a complicated dilemma?

The best thing you can do is to educate yourself about your rights as an inventor and the legal protections available to you to prevent idea theft. In this article, we will analyze the most important measures you can undertake to protect your idea from being stolen.

  1. Provisional Patents

One of the best ways to legally protect your invention is to obtain a patent for it. You can do so by filing a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. However, depending on the complexity of your design, obtaining a patent can cost you thousands of dollars in legal fees. If you are just starting out as an inventor and entrepreneur, you may not have such funds available and even if you do, you may need them to cover other pressing expenses instead.

If that’s the case, a provisional patent might be a viable solution for you. Provisional patents are significantly cheaper – in many cases, obtaining one won’t cost much more than $100. After obtaining a provisional patent, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will give a “patent pending status” for up to one year In the majority of cases, this gives your idea enough legal protection to deter potential thieves.

  1. Non-Disclosure Agreements

A non-disclosure agreement may be especially useful if your business idea or invention isn’t necessarily patentable or you’re not willing to patent it for other reasons. In order for the agreement to provide a measure of legal protection for your idea, you need to sign it with a potential customer or manufacturer before you reveal any important information. If you have such an agreement in place and the other party violates it, they may be upheld in court and you may be in the position to recover financial damages.

A non-disclosure agreement must clearly define what information is confidential and classified. It must also specify what obligations the parties have to keep it secret. It also stipulates how long the parties are obliged to protect the confidentiality of the information.

  1. Registering Your Brand or Product Name as a Trademark

While a trademark doesn’t protect your business idea or invention per se, it may provide additional protection if a legal dispute arises. When you register a trademark, the documentation you provide may serve as proof that a specific idea or design was indeed conceived by you and not by another party. Such documentation may also serve as evidence as to when exactly you came up with your invention. These facts can serve you as important arguments if another party tries to dispute your ownership of the idea or invention or that you were indeed the first to create it.

Don’t Forget to Consult a Lawyer

If you are just starting out as an inventor or entrepreneur, the complicated world of intellectual property laws and regulations may seem a little overwhelming. Yet, being able to take advantage of such protections can play a crucial role in the success of your idea on the market. That’s why you’d do well to work with an IP protection lawyer to make sure your ideas are protected. Our attorneys at BRADFORD, LTD can help you use the law to your advantage. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to talk about how we can best protect your inventions.

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Bradford LTD specializes in IP protections and maximization for startups and small businesses. We also provide scaled legal services to our clients, including fractional legal counsel and value-based rates. From trademark, copyright and service mark protections to patent protection and outside inside counsel, we help position entrepreneurs and owners for long-term success.

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