Inventions range from simply creating a bottle opener to constructing a vehicle that runs on water. With the advancement of technology and access to information, new ideas drop in people’s minds daily. Fortunately, IP rights do not protect ideas but the expression of ideas and thus, the creators and not the “imaginators” get the protection IP offers.
Expression of ideas entails actually creating a work using sufficient skill and effort or transforming it from the intellect to a tangible form such as a photograph, painting, song, design etc.
With different ideas flying about, it is important to protect your invention first to enable you exclusive rights to them as IP protects the first to register or apply for protection. Here are three ways you can protect your invention under Intellectual property:
- Patent your invention – if your invention is patent-able, it is important to apply for one as early as possible. A patent simply gives its owner the right to exclude others from making use of the work or selling their invention for 20 years. It protects processes, methods and inventions and the requirements for a patent include novelty, utility (being capable of use or application) and inventiveness. Such application is filed at the Patent Registry of a country and protection is territorial only.
- Trade Secrets protections – Patents are in fact published and involve a disclosure of your information in exchange for a 20 years protection. An alternative is however trade secrets which is not registered and has no public records. These protections are used for items that are unique and give the owner a competitive advantage such as the famous Coca-Cola recipe.
- Use Non-Disclosure Agreements – there is no doubt that in the process of pitching your invention or getting customers, there may be the need to disclose certain information about your invention. A confidentiality agreement would however place an obligation on persons you have business relationship with including customers to preclude them from using or sharing it.
Dear big thinker, protecting your invention, no matter how small it is, is important because it gives you a competitive advantage and exclusive right to use your innovation. This prevents copycats from stealing your hardwork and also brings financial gain in the form of licensing and sales agreement. It is also important to not publish your idea on the internet, in an article, during a presentation etc before filing a patent has it may prevent you from getting it.