A new product idea will continuously run through your mind – it’s like a sudden natural event — a volcanic explosion. But when rewarded with an unprecedented idea, most people pull out their smartphones and call or text to share it with someone they know and trust. Sadly, our passion for notifying and enlightening our trustees overwhelms the fact that our world is ruled by the internet of things (IoT) – it’s like an open book. Great work and ideas can be easily stolen unless you protect them. You just had a brand new product idea – what are some ways you can protect it?
1. Secure Communication
Nowadays, hackers are extremely talented and sophisticated. Upon texting someone over the smartphone, tablet, or laptop with no secure messaging application, a pro hacker could access your info within minutes. So when texting your lawyer or your invention team, use encryption-enabled apps to ensure your information remains unavailable to potential hackers or censored journalists.
Invest your money and time in branding a new product or business idea that will catch on. As you build your reputation, clients will progressively associate your brand with the newly established method. Thus consider trademark registration to protect your new brand. This gives you exclusive rights to use your business logo or name in the international classes you apply for. When applying for a trademark for your brand, ensure you are more active for reliable protection of your idea.
3. Registration of Patent and Design
Patents come in 3 forms: design patents, utility patents, and plant patents. Depending on the product idea, you will apply for a patent by including every technical detail of your invention.
Once your utility patent is issued and published, you acquire complete ownership of your invention for a period of 20 years from the date of application. With a utility patent, you can stop other interested parties from making, using, and/or selling your new product in that period. Moreover, it permits you to license your invention to anyone else.
On the other hand, a design patent, which is a legal protection for an ornamental design of a functional item, gives you exclusive rights to use, license, and/or sell your idea commercially for a period of 14 years.
4. Trade Secret
Trade secrets are confidential and/or proprietary information that a company (or individual) can use for maintaining an economic advantage over competitors. To your business, the information is valuable commercially, thus have it safeguarded. In fact, your ability to claim trade secret protection is contingent on that secrecy. Technically, while it may be harder to prove trade secrets were misappropriated, some federal & state laws offer a substantial amount of protection. Additionally, unlike a patent, it’s free to maintain and protect a trade secret, and there are technically no expiration dates.
5. Confidentiality/Non-disclosure Agreement
Typically most parties use a confidentiality agreement to protect all information disclosed before engaging in a contractual relationship. For instance, an entrepreneur might meet with a software developer to discuss their concepts before procuring the services of the software developer. Despite the kind of non-disclosure agreement you use – mutual or unilateral – be sure to enter into this agreement.
Moreover, ensure that every contract you engage in includes IP clauses and confidentiality. You might establish a contractual relationship where participants acquire confidential data to create IP, thus define a term that distinctly states who owns this and that. Never assume anything – have a well-drafted contract set up to protect your product idea.
What if Someone Steals Your Product Idea?
In case infringement occurs, enforce your patent, trademark, trade secret, or copyright immediately with an attorney’s help. Government agencies are typically hands-off after you register. To protect against future disputes over inventorship or authorship, be sure to keep proper records.
The Key Takeaways
What if you can hire an attorney to help manage the process? A business or IP attorney can handle almost all of the legal matters and paperwork, saving you time and stress. You will have several avenues to protect your business’s IP, and some might involve product registration or particular systems.
For more information about protecting your idea, feel free to contact us today.