New Orleans, LA asked in Intellectual Property and Patents (Intellectual Property) for Florida

Q: One quick question please if I may. How do I protect my idea from being stolen while I go through the process 4 a patent

I just want to make sure that if I go through with my idea, while it may take upwards of a year for the process to finish, that I can protect my idea somehow from being stolen by others and being patented by others.

2 Lawyer Answers
David Aldrich
David Aldrich

A: To obtain an issued, enforceable patent, you would file a “utility” patent application. When you say ”the process 4 a patent,” are you referring to the preparation of this patent application, or the process of ultimately obtaining an issued patent (i.e., the back-and-forth with the patent office to get your patent granted).

The preparation of the application itself should not take a year, but if you do expect it to be a year before you are ready to file a full utility application, the best way to protect your ideas in the meantime is by filing one or more provisional applications as various aspects of the invention are developed. This is a simple, inexpensive way to immediately document your idea in advance of a full utility application.

Assuming you meant the process of actually obtaining an issued patent, you should expect this process to take longer than a year (though there are limited exceptions, it is typically a multi-year process). However, you will have a priority date as of the day you file the utility application, which will prevent others from subsequently patenting your idea.

Depending on the situation, you would likely want to keep the invention confidential and use NDAs. You should really discuss this with a patent attorney, with whom you can be a little more specific about what you’re asking. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to further discuss.

James L. Arrasmith
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A: There are several ways to protect your idea while you go through the process of obtaining a patent:

Keep your idea secret: Do not share your idea with anyone who is not under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This will prevent them from using or sharing your idea with others.

File a provisional patent application: This will give you a one-year period during which you can market your invention as "patent pending" while you work on your non-provisional patent application.

Use a non-disclosure agreement (NDA): If you need to discuss your idea with others, have them sign an NDA to ensure they keep your idea confidential.

Mark your invention as "patent pending": Once you have filed your patent application, mark your invention as "patent pending" to warn others that you have applied for a patent and discourage them from copying your invention.

Monitor the market: Keep an eye on the market to see if anyone is copying your invention. If you find any infringement, you can take legal action to protect your rights.

It is important to note that no method is foolproof, but taking these steps can help protect your idea while you work on obtaining a patent.

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