A patent protects your intellectual property and is provided by the government. It claims the idea as your own and keeps others from profiting off of your hard work. So how do you talk about a non-patented invention without having your idea stolen?
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Know the Law: There are very specific laws governing what sorts of disclosures you can and cannot make and still have your invention protected prior to filing your patent application. To paraphrase Judge Reinhold in Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Learn them. Know them. Live them. Knowing what you can say, where you can say it and—most importantly—what starts your clock running on the time within which you must file your application, can mean the difference between getting your patent and losing control of your invention. Thinking about writing a white paper on it? Learn the law. Want to present to a group of potential investors? Learn the law. Thinking about advertising or selling your invention to market test it? Learn the law.Consider a Nondisclosure or Confidentiality Agreement: If you are considering meeting with potential partners, vendors or investors, and think you’ll have to share at least part of your nonpatented idea, consider a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). NDAs and similar confidentiality agreements make clear, in writing, that your invention is confidential and the parties privileged to know about it must not release any information to others without your permission.
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
File a Provisional Application for Patent: If you’re worried about the cost of getting a patent, or simply do not want to wait to get the process started, a provisional application for patent could be just the answer for you. A provisional application for patent lets you immediately label your invention “patent pending” for up to one year from filing, which puts all parties on notice that your invention is protected while you conduct market research, seek peer review, court investors and so forth. During the twelve months of “patent pending” status, you can then decide whether to file a corresponding non-provisional application with the USPTO for full patent protection.
Just make sure you take the time to protect your ideas and don’t even leak them on a social network and you should be just fine.
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