Protection and Your Invention
If you have a good Idea for a product you should acquire Protection. I help my customers define their product idea from an engineering perspective so that when they need a patent, they claim features and functions that are manufactureable, yet difficult for others to copy. Yes, corporations commonly hire product engineers to design around patents so they will have a competitive product. This is also known as reverse engineering. Until your idea is developed thoroughly enough to obtain a solid patent, always have an Intellectual Property Agreement or Non-Disclosure Statement for others to sign.
Approximately two out of ten customers come to me with a patent. This type of safeguard is considered solid only if it is based on a Working Prototype with basic engineering and testing. In the corporate world if a patent is acquired at all, it is usually after prototypes are obtained, but before trade shows are visited, and other forms of public advertising are utilized.
Some successful inventors never patent their ideas, while others pay thousands of dollars for this security. "The Big Idea," a TV program showcasing notable inventors, helps validate the fact that there are many ways to protect your idea and be successful.
In some cases inventors may be fortunate enough for a Manufacturer and an outlet store to purchase their idea before the development phase has been completed. This can be accomplished, but in my experience, inventors with working prototypes or completed products, and some form of protection, are the most successful. This is how your product engineer can help you.
Before rushing out for a costly patent, please examine these popular alternatives:
Intellectual Property Disclosures are very common, and allow you to request signatures from individuals and companies you discuss your idea with. I would personally avoid going to companies that sell a product similar to yours without having a prototype, and at least a provisional patent.
Patent it Yourself, by David Pressman. I find this book to be a very useful reference guide. You will discover that there are many books offering insight into patents.
Legal Zoom™ is currently one of my favorite Web Services. Using this site, one could potentially save at least 50% in acquiring Provisional Patents, Trademarks, etc. Provisional Patents offer protection while you develop your product and decide exactly what you want to do.
Obviously, I am not a lawyer, so I share my experiences and knowledge regarding this topic from a Product Engineering perspective.
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Patent And-Or Trademark That New Product?
Your company has developed a really nifty new product. Should you file for a patent, and should you trademark the product's name?