• How to Legally Protect Your Inventions and Ideas
  • April 18, 2017 | Author: James H. Gulseth
  • Law Firm: JGPC Business & Corporate Law - Pleasanton Office
  • An idea can be worth a million dollars – to you or to your competitor – which is why it is important to take steps to protect your inventions and ideas. Unfortunately, many business owners fail to take reasonable and simple measures to prevent competitors from learning about these valuable ideas and inventions. A small business owner can be especially disadvantaged if the competitor not only learns of the idea or invention but takes steps to protect that very same idea or invention from use by its original creator. Fortunately, your intellectual property attorney can help.

    Protecting Your Idea or Invention While Still Marketing It

    For business owners, developing a new idea or invention is a risky proposition: on the one hand, marketing your idea to others is important in learning whether you should continue to invest more time and resources in further developing the idea or invention. On the other hand, letting others know what you are working on may lead to a competitor stealing your idea and profiting off of it before you do. There are at least two important steps you can take, however, to help reduce the risk that your inventions and ideas will be stolen by another:

    • File a provisional patent application: While filing a provisional patent application is not the same as having a valid patent for your idea or invention (which is a good idea that you should pursue as early and as quickly as possible), but it does allow you to obtain “patent pending” status. For some would-be idea and invention thieves, the fact that you have “patent pending” status may be enough to discourage them from attempting to steal your idea.
    • Prepare and execute nondisclosure agreements: Nondisclosure agreements are contracts executed between you and your employees, potential investors, or others who may either know of your idea or be interested in your new invention that prohibit them from discussing, disclosing, or using your idea or invention. Valid nondisclosure agreements can be challenging to draft, but a properly executed agreement will typically provide for some financial penalty or sanction in the event the other person violates the terms of the agreement.

    This article was originally published on JGPC.com.