Are you Screwed If Someone Patents Your Invention Before You Do?
On a hot South Florida summer night, two years ago, two inventors worked busily in their garages refining their inventions. They were very much alike, these two inventors. Both were hard-working. Both had great ideas that could benefit mankind. And both stood to profit wildly from their inventions.
Recently, these two men visited a Fort Lauderdale Patent Attorney to file a patent and protect their ideas.
They were still very much alike. Both had invested their life-savings in their idea. Both had perfected their designs. And both had a finished product that would sell like hotcakes on the open market.
But there was a problem. For both men, patents for products just like theirs had already been applied for. While one inventor had to walk away, the other inventor took specific steps that allowed him to win the patent, even though he wasn’t the first to apply for the patent.
Protecting Your Idea: What Made The Difference
Did you know that you can be granted a patent for an idea even if someone else applied for a patent for the same idea before you?
It’s true because the U.S. is known as a first to invent country, NOT a first to patent country. This means if your patent attorney can prove you came up with the idea first, then you have a good chance at gaining exclusive rights to your idea even if you were late to file the patent application.
How to Help Your Patent Attorney
As an inventor, there are a few specific steps you can take to help your patent attorney prove the idea is rightfully yours.
- Intellectual Property Protection Step #1: Keep an inventors notebook. An inventors notebook is simply a place for you to log progress from mental idea to physical invention. Inventor logbooks sell for hundreds of dollars. But, yours does not have to be fancy. The only requirements is that the pages are permanently bound (meaning you can’t easily add loose pages).
- Intellectual Property Protection Step #2: Keep detailed notes: As you come up with new processes, systems or tools brining your invention to life, make sure to write down everything
- Intellectual Property Protection Step #3: Verify your notes: Having an expert or notary periodically sign your notebook gives you powerful proof of the timeline of your idea. If you can show how your idea progressed before anyone else, you’ll have a strong argument that you deserve the patent.
The absolute best way to secure legal rights to your idea is to file your patent application first. In the case that this does not happen, your notebook just may be enough to help you if someone else beats you in the race to the Patent Office.