Going From Product Idea to Patent Protection Share Do you have a strategy to protect your idea from being stolen? One of the biggest, and most confusing, steps in the new product development process is knowing why, how and when to protect your idea. In order to take the next step and get to where you want to be, you’ll need to move from an idea phase to invention and ultimately patent application. Creating a strategy that will differentiate you from the competition will be crucial towards making a claim for protection. The first step is understanding what a patent is. It is an exclusive right to an inventor, allowing them to legally prevent others from making, using or selling their invention during the life of the patent. In the U.S., patent protection lasts for up to 20 years. It’s also important to be aware of sharing your ideas with others without a patent application in place. Without a patent, many companies and investors will not accept an idea as a submission, but it won’t stop them from taking it as their own. Be careful what information you share, otherwise someone else might be taking the credit for your ideas. While ideas aren’t legally protected, you can sign a confidentiality agreement with those you are seeking help from, such as a partner or product development design firm. A confidentiality agreement, otherwise known as a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), will convey a legally-binding promise between the two parties that the information being shared is confidential and should be maintained in secrecy. If you’ve already begun to develop your idea into a product or prototype, be sure to describe your invention in a very specific manner. Patent laws cannot protect an idea if it is still in the making. To help you streamline your strategy, you may want to consider seeking help from a product design firm with experience in patent protection. SnS Design can help you connect with a patent attorney and design your product that is unique to the market and eligible for protection. While product blueprints are not required, you’ll have to prove that you have something truly innovative on your hands and that you have the means to carry it out. Having a prototype helps, but having detailed designs and professional renderings will be key to helping you present your idea to patent attorneys and investors. This is another area where seeking the help of a product design firm can help, especially if you aren’t gifted in the art of technical drawing. SnS Design has expertise in providing 3D renderings and CAD drawings that will breathe life into your product and help you get your idea across to those interested in investing in your product, whether investors or potential licensees. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the patent process 1. Be Wary of Over-sharing When it comes to admissions, be careful what you share with others before or during filing a patent application. Unless you’re sharing with family, have a non-disclosure agreement handy. 2. Don’t Be Second to File If you have an idea or product ready for patent, don’t wait to file. You put yourself at risk if someone else file your idea before you. The U.S. patent laws are first-come, first-serve. 3. Try a Provisional Patent First The provisional patent application gives you the means to get an early effective filing date and gives your product “patent pending” status for a later filed non-provisional application. 4. You Can Never Have Too Many Patent Drawings Every patent application must be accompanied by at least one patent illustration if it can be illustrated. The best way to ensure better protection is to have multiple, high-quality drawings. 5. Get Down to Specifics If you fear being too specific or detailed, perhaps the patent process isn’t your best bet. In order to seek a patent, you’ll need to be able to express your product idea down to the smallest detail. After all, these are the very things you’re trying to protect. Do You Have an Idea Worth Protecting?