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New as inventor

You have an idea – what now?

When one has an idea the first step should always be to put it down on paper. In the current age, this page is likely a document on your computer. Over the next few days, your idea will change and expand as your thoughts become stronger and deeper. One can write down points which can be viewed as risks or questions that one has. When the idea is one that can be drawn, one should also produce an outline or sketch. Once your idea is on paper, develop a one-page description of your idea. The end result will create a document that can be shown to a good friend, a patent attorney, or to the patent office. Caution: always with a non-disclosure agreement!

Important: A non-disclosure agreement is no substitution for proprietary laws. A non-disclosure agreement serves only as the first step with advisers or partners. It is a legal contract between two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that parties wish to share with one another, but wish to restrict to by other parties

Proprietary Law:

The most widely known proprietary law is a patent. A patent is a legal title which protects a technical invention for a limited period of time (usually 20 years). Moreover a patent prevents others from exploiting the invention within the countries for which the patent has been granted. An invention is patentable when it is:

  • new
  • commercially applicable
  • non-obvious

Items that are infeasible, such as a perpetual motion machine, are in general not patentable. Moreover, laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas cannot be patented. Incidentally computer programmes are generally not patentable in Europe. In the USA software patents are granted with more ease.

The invention should be described on the patent application form in such a way that a specialist can understand it. A prototype is not necessary to apply for a patent. The typical lifespan of a patent lasts for 20 years. Fees are also higher if the patent is to be protected in a number of countries.

Patent protection is only one tool among many in a comprehensive business plan. However, in order to raise capital, an enterprise may have to protect its technology to prevent exploitation until the capital is raised and the business developed. Capital would be required to set up manufacturing and marketing operations, and patent and design rights should prevent competitors from exploiting the technology until such operations are active, and moreover, profitable.

Additionally, where an enterprise is geographically small, a patent right may be used to take a new or improved product to other markets around the world. Smaller enterprises have many advantages over larger ones, particularly in their flexibility, and such advantages may married to the advantages that large enterprises have by appropriate business relationships being forged. The existence of a patent right for the small enterprise strengthens their negotiating position with any other potential licensees.

A patent should not be confused with a utility model. A utility model is similar to a patent as it is an intellectual property right to protect inventions, but has a shorter term (often six to ten years).

Product samples are valid as a small patent and have a maximum lifespan of ten years. Its protection is somewhat weaker and through licensing

Resources for Inventors

Patent Office Worldwide


How to License Your Million Dollar Idea: Everything You Need To Know To Turn a Simple Idea into a Million Dollar Payday

Reese, Harvey (2002). 240 pages.

This book is a required reading for all of our employees! In How to License Your Million Dollar Idea, Harvey Reese, a successful new product developer, consultant, and licensing agent, reveals his system for creating commercially profitable ideas and his secrets for turning them into lucrative licensing agreements. The book also covers recent changes in patent law and how the Internet has impacted modern licensing. Reese includes his proven step-by-step process for formulating an idea that manufacturers are willing to pay for, researching its authenticity, obtaining patents, finding prospects, negotiating the deal, and beyond.

Inventor's Notebook: A Patent It Yourself Companion

Pressman, David & Grissom, Fred (2008). 256 pages.

The best way to protect your invention is to keep good records. Let The Inventor's Notebook track and prompt you to take care of every important step in the process. Use it to:

  • document the development of your invention
  • help you can make refinements while building and testing
  • assess the commercial potential of your invention
  • calculate how much capital you are likely to need
  • organize your search for funds to build, test, manufacture and distribute your invention
  • create a record of contacts who know of your invention and have signed confidentiality agreements

Nolo's Patents for Beginners

Pressman, David & Stim, Richard (2009). 194 pages.

Here's the primer every first-time inventor needs. Packed with detailed information and concise explanations, Nolo's Patents for Beginners defines what a patent is and what it can do for you. Step by step, it explains how to:

  • use basic patent principles
  • document an invention
  • conduct a patent search
  • acquire patent rights
  • "read" an application
  • determine patent ownership
  • analyze disputes
  • find patent information
  • interpret international patent law

Patent It Yourself

Pressman, David (2006). 575 pages.

Attorney David Pressman takes you through the entire patent process, providing scrupulously updated information and clear instructions to help you:

  • determine if you can patent your invention
  • understand patent law
  • evaluate the commercial potential of your idea
  • perform your own patent search
  • file a provisional patent application
  • prepare a formal patent application
  • enforce and maintain your patent
  • market and license your invention