Before you ever start thinking about patents you have ideas. And this raises the whole thought process about how you as a small business owner or individual inventor does routine work in such a way that you are protecting your intellectual property whether you use patents or not.
So some of the things we will spend some time considering on this page and its accompanying articles is how you do that. I have mentioned on parts of this site the importance of understanding things like trade secrets because even if you do have a few key concepts that need the protection of patents, the bulk of your intellectual property may fall under trade secrets.
But when it comes to inventors patents there are other considerations. Selling invention ideas should be in your planning from the beginning. How will you actually monetize your invention? Will you commercialize it yourself or license it?
And there are other rather mundane things that you should also consider. Do you keep an inventors notebook? You should. There are some good legal reasons you should do that but also, as a rather disorganized person,I find that keeping a good notebook (bound, not loose leaf) is a good discipline in any business. Sticky notes were a great invention but they can get you into trouble because they are totally unorganized.
We will talk about how to maintain a good inventors notebook, the minimum efforts you should take to ensure that you are not allowing intellectual property to walk out the door every day, the importance of Non-Disclosure Agreements, Employee Agreements, Non-Competes, etc.
Note: While we are talking about agreements and legal documents of all kinds I want to make a point. For a small business person there are times when dealing with a complex contractual issue it could be important for you to make use of an attorney skilled in contract law. But there are many, many legal documents used in day to day business, and in patent law, that have been hashed out so well over the years that you can now get them for low, and in most cases no cost. An outstanding example of this is a site called Free Legal Documents. It also has helpful information on patents and intellectual property.
The list of things you need to do is not a long one but you should have that list and you should be diligent in using it.
And if you have employees there is a minimum set of training you should schedule for them so that they understand their obligations in dealing with invention ideas and keeping intellectual property in-house.
As in the rest of this site, the organization is in terms of attached articles (below). The article list on invention ideas will grow with time and you can influence the subject matter by contacting me and asking for articles on particular subjects.
Ideas as Intellectual Property
Before we explore ideas - do you understand the concept of ideas as intellectual property? Here are some thoughts on that.
Should You Patent?
There are many factors that might drive a decision to patent. Here are some of the best reasons why you might want to consider getting a patent. And I have seen all of these play out in real businesses.
Patent It Yourself?
It is perfectly legal to write and submit your own patent. But that does not mean you should. Let's explore that notion.
Should You Commercialize or License?
Commercialize or License - One of those patent myths. I am suggesting that only one of these options makes sense.
The Invention Process
How do people invent? I am convinced that most successful inventors are those who are always looking at the world as problems to be solved - and that thought process leads them to solutions.
The Inventor Notebook
Most of my most important reasons for recommending the use of a good inventor notebook have to do with the use of notebooks to document, guide, and enrich your thinking. We all like to think that we keep all of our good ideas in our heads. Nonsense. We forget 90% of out ideas within 36 hours of dreaming them up.
The Invention Disclosure
The invention disclosure is not a replacement for a good inventor notebook. Having said that a clearly written and comprehensive invention disclosure can be an important step in the steps for getting a patent.
The Early Disclosure
"What Can I Publish Before Patenting?" Can I start my marketing campaign? Can I disclose this to potential manufacturing partners? These are common questions from inventors. Let's try to deal with them here.
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