Take these steps to help protect your idea…
- You should use a Confidentiality Agreement if you must show your invention to someone before a patent application is filed, or while the patent is pending.
- You should tell your attorney the first date of any event in which you’ve already demonstrated the invention on a non-confidential basis, sold or offered to sell your invention, or published an article about it. If such event was more than a year ago, the invention has become a part of the public domain and no patent application can be filed. If the disclosure was less than a year ago, a U.S. patent application can still be filed, but usually no foreign application can be.
- You should keep an inventor’s notebook and have each page dated and witnessed by a person without any vested interest in your invention.
- You should keep in touch with your patent attorney if further developments to your invention are made after the patent application has been filed. Some inventors continue working on their inventions after their application has been filed, but do not communicate their improvements to the patent attorney. As a result, they are surprised to find that their issued patent protects an old version of their invention. There is a system set up by the PTO for adding new developments to a patent application after it has been filed, but it requires new drawings, additional written description, a new filing fee, and a new legal fee.
- You should begin marketing the invention as soon as the patent application has been awarded a filing date.
- You should mark “patent pending” on all products for which a patent has been applied. You can’t collect damages for infringement if you sell the patented product without marking it with its patent number.