Once a new invention has come to life, its protection may often be a daunting task, especially to novice inventors and entrepreneurs. There are some simple steps, however, that will assist not only with protection but also its development into a viable commercial tool:
- Research your idea
Do an internet search for your invention before approaching a patent attorney. This will significantly increase your chances of obtaining an enforceable patent with the widest possible scope of protection for your invention, and will also potentially decrease the time that your patent attorney will have to spend to draft the patent specification.
- Contact an intellectual property attorney
Contacting an intellectual property attorney to assist you once you have done your internet search and before taking any further steps is imperative in registering a patent to protect and commercialise the invention, and establishing a solid trade mark and branding strategy.
- Keep it a secret
To qualify for patent protection, an invention needs to be novel (new), inventive and capable of application in trade or industry. Any disclosure of an invention before the filing of a patent application will destroy its novelty. If you do need to disclose your invention to obtain funding or to manufacture a prototype, ensure that you have a proper non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place.
- Be thorough
Accumulate and log as much information as possible on how you came up with the invention. By keeping a comprehensive account of your research into the invention, you will also be able to prove ownership of any patents in respect of the invention. This will also assist you in proving and enforcing any potential claims to copyright in your invention.
- Don’t delay
Ensure that a patent application in respect of your invention is filed as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more the chances become of your invention being disclosed or even independently invented, and possibly patented, by another person.
- Surround yourself with the correct partners
If you do not have the necessary funds, it is imperative that you partner with the correct business associates and investors as soon as possible, as you do not want your invention to fail to realise due to a lack of funds. It is further crucial that you partner with a firm of intellectual property attorneys that you can trust and realise the value that the invention has to you, and therefore treat and respect you and the invention accordingly.
- Develop a branding strategy
A proper branding strategy is imperative to ensure that the invention protected under the patent is associated with a strong brand. A strong and well thought out trade mark will lure potential investors, create goodwill in the market towards the invention, and further ensure the longevity of the invention in the market place, long after its registered patents have lapsed.
- Plan a commercialisation strategy
A patent provides the patentee with a monopoly for a set period during which the patentee can ensure maximum benefit accruing from an invention to the exclusion of others. A patent is, however, of little commercial value if not accompanied by a well defined and structured commercialisation strategy. This can include manufacturing, licensing or sale of your invention and associated intellectual property.