Many creatives wonder if they can patent an idea, which has created debates. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a patent as a grant of a property right to an inventor. Thus, it protects an innovation. But what about an idea?
Here is what you need to know.
Understanding patent laws
To apply for a patent, you should have invented something. For instance, to get a utility patent, you should have invented a new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture and composition of matter. To get a design patent, you should have invented a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
An idea is not enough to be patented. You need to turn it into a patentable innovation. For example, if you have an idea for a new mouse-pad design, have drawings showing how it will be designed differently, how it will work and so on.
Even though an idea is the first step to an innovation, you may need to show how it can have monetary value to get intellectual property protection.
What if someone steals your idea?
Sharing your idea with specialists may be necessary to help you create a unique innovation. But what if they steal it since you haven’t patented it yet?
Every party you work with should sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. However, note that this may only protect you legally. If they release your idea, they will face the consequences of breaching the contract, but your idea will already be out. Thus, you should be careful about who you bring to your team.
If you have an idea, you should take the right steps to make it patentable. While advertisements – either online or broadcast – make it seem like many of these steps are straightforward DIY projects, it is crucial that you seek the guidance of an experienced legal professional. Patent law is a complex area, and it is wise to ensure your invention is properly protected by working with a skilled attorney every step of the way.