Protect Against Idea Theft
Someone stole your idea,
and you want … Avoid this with a few precautionary steps.
Step 1 – Bound
A bound notebook, and not one with pages
that tear out. A bound notebook, preferably with pre-printed page
Record your ideas and after-thoughts, and
date each entry.
Have each filled page witnessed.
The witness or witnessed preferably sign a
statement on the page which states that the page “has been read and
understood” and then sign, date and print their name and address.
The witness must read and understand before
they sign that statement.
Buy another bound notebook when you fill up
Step 2 – USPTO
disclosure document program or copyright affixation:
Collect your ideas on a given subject from
your bound notebook and record them on separate sheets of paper.
Do not mail them to your self, registered
or otherwise. (Hey, there is no way to be certain what is in the envelope
without opening it, and then you are back to zero. Courts give little to
no evidentiary weight to this gimmick.)
Make at least one photostat copy of the
If your idea is an invention (useful rather
than artistic or literary), file your sheets under the USPTO disclosure
If your idea is subject to copyright
protection (artistic or literary rather than utilitarian), affix it in a
tangible medium to satisfy the first requirement of copyright protection.
If your idea is a slogan, seek assistance
for slogan trademark protection.
Step 3 – Search:
Do a check to see if the idea is already
If you do not find it, check further by
having a professional patent or trademark search conducted.
Step 4 –
You need a confidentiality agreement before
you disclose the idea to third-parties.
But note that established companies
routinely refuse to look at outside ideas unless you sign a
Also note that disclosure to an attorney is
already protected under the attorney-client confidentiality ethical
requirements and attorney-client privilege.
Step 5 – Have it
patented or registered, if possible:
Once you have secured protection via
patent, copyright registration or trademark registration, if someone
infringes your rights, you have recourse via an infringement lawsuit (and
contingency-based actions are possible).
See an experienced intellectual property
(IP) attorney for this step. In my practice I routinely see
do-it-yourself attempts that have failed to protect what was needed to
protect, and it normally is too late to correct the situation.
Somewhere along this
road a hard look should be given to the value of your idea, to
objectively determine the value of the idea before investing any further
time or effort.
other topics -
patents vs trade
entry-level patent applications,
patent it or not,
contact the firm
(all contact modes)
or call 312.419.8055
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