How Can I Patent an Idea?
I Have an Idea but How Can I Protect It
The problem with just having an idea is that you can't simply "own" an idea. Patents protect inventions, copyrights protect creative type of work, trademarks protect commercial phrases and images. Nothing legally protects an idea by itself. You don't own it. So, how do you present your idea without someone stealing it and or telling someone else about it.
You could ask anyone that you decide to tell prior to spilling your beans that they sign a confidentiality agreement and on a personal level, I would, but if you plan on presenting it to a company or marketing group, don’t expect them to sign it. Bottom line, companies that may be interested in your idea may already be considering something very similar and they could wind up blocking their own efforts to proceed with their own idea since it was close to yours.
Now, that being said, you can Protect Your Idea with a Provisional Patent. . The U.S. Government has recognized that people need an economical means of filing for patents and protecting their ideas even if the final finished product has yet to be completed. This type of patent, a provisional patent, qualifies for a Patent Pending status, so that you are protected by having your idea being dated and being considered for a more permanent patent while you continue to pursue your efforts to get it to market.
You can read the basic background of a provisional patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and see if this explains things in detail for you.
Monday, January 7, 2013
First of all, you must lay claim to your idea, in the form of a provisional patent. Once you have that secured, you have it documented that you in fact own the idea, and now you can proceed to sell your idea.
Some people want to sell their ideas, some want to ride the entire process out and bring their idea to full development. So, you must decide what you plan to do with your newly owned idea.
If you decide that you don't want to go through the hoops of developing the idea into a tangible product, there are people who buy ideas. But, before you go off half cocked and expect to make millions off of your idea that way, understand that you have basically take absolutely no risk in this venture and you can't expect to cash out big with an unproven product.
Idea Buyers are smart people or they wouldn't have the money to buy yours. They know that ideas to finish product takes time, investment, research, and development. And all of that must take place before they can expect to see a return on their investment.
Yo may want to sell your idea with a little more effort on developing your product and giving it some exposure first. Idea buyers are more likely to pay you more for your idea if it has been marketed to some degree on your part. This allows them to see how the public is reacting to your idea and then they can determine if they can apply their expertise in bringing it to full market exposure.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Okay, to be careful as to not disclosing exactly what I did and who I did this for, I will omit that tidbit from my true story. This is a lesson in protecting your ideas especially if you are sitting on a goldmine that will benefit your employer. You see, this was what I had hoped would give me a large suggestion award and it turned out they basically stole my idea, well kinda, considering what I gave away and what they paid me.
On to the story, I was working for a fortune 500 company and was producing less than desired quality product that was a fault of the machinery, not mine. I went home for weeks worrying that the company if caught, by their customers would ultimately cause me to be the scapegoat and I would lose my job.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I came up with a idea that I pursued privately with my machine manufacturer and they agreed with my idea and said it would work. I then in turn wrote up a suggestion to submit to my company's suggestion box. To explain in brief, if you have an idea that they adopt you get an percentage of the first year's savings.
Well, a few weeks went by and my department manager came to me and ask me to explain my suggestion. I did and he said I think we'll try that idea. Long story short, they did and it was a smashing success. To the tune of saving the company over $2 MILLION Dollars the first year alone and it continues to save them millions each year.
After several months of me inquiring about a payout, they finally came to me and handed me a check for $1500.00, that was it, nothing more, no incremental installments, zip nada, that was THE END!
Moral to this story and possibly to yours, DO NOT ASSUME Your employer will take care of you or show you due respect for your input. If you have a similar situation and have an idea, GET A PATENT! This could have made me a millionaire easily since this is a fortune 500 company that could apply this to multiple divisions.
Short Answer; No!
Now for the more detailed answer; yes and no. First of all you must understand that an idea is nothing more and nothing less than just an idea or thought. You cannot sell your thoughts, well, maybe a penny for your thoughts might work.
Seriously, in order to sell your idea it has to have something tangible attached to it. In other words you need to be able to prove to anyone without any doubts that it is in fact your idea. Let's face it, you could have stolen an idea from someone else and then decided to pawn it as your own. Who would know for sure either way? Exactly, they wouldn't.
Before You Spill Your Idea to Anyone Protect Your Idea First With A Provisional Patent
Okay, let's look at actually presenting your offer to sell your next big idea. In most cases we suddenly have an idea that pops into our heads and we decide ourselves that IT WILL WORK! The next step we usually take is we tell someone about our idea and try to gain peer support to see if it will past the first test of presenting it to someone else.If they encourage us to continue with our idea, we are stoked to the max that we have hit pay dirt.Wrong!
To do this legally and correctly, you need to protect your idea. You need to turn your idea into something you actually own. You need to have legal documentation that you own this idea and have details in print. Now, you might be able to sell it, I say might, there is still a lot of legwork involved.
Once you have applied and received a provision patent, you now can boast that you have a patent pending status on your idea. This gives you the tangible part of your idea that can now be sold to an investor. There are people out there that do buy patents and this is how ideas are sold. The downside, your idea is still unproven and not in circulation to give most investors some idea of the market response your idea has shown, even in a limited market.
In order to continue with your idea, once you have your provisional patent in place, you need to follow through with creating as much of your idea as possible and seek out investors that are already looking in a given manufacturing or industrial area that involves your idea.
Should you be fortunate to find an interested party you can choose to share with them their expertise for a commission or a buyout purchase of your idea.