Before you submit an invention idea to anyone you need to consider disclosure and confidentiality.
If you do not have a patent, you should only disclose information about your invention to those who have signed a confidentiality agreement.
A confidentiality prohibits anyone from disclosing information about your invention without your permission.
The agreement should state all the information concerning your invention that is confidential. It should state that any marketing methods, materials, concepts, processes, packaging are not to be disclosed. You may want to have a thorough agreement prepared by a patent lawyer.
The confidentiality agreement is a good tool to use because it allows you to discuss your invention before filing for a patent. A signed confidentiality agreement does not constitute public disclosure of your invention.
Anyone you talk to about your invention should sign a confidentiality agreement - including family and friends. It is not a matter of not trusting your family or friends.
If someone can prove that you told somebody about your invention more than a year before you applied for a patent - and there was no confidentiality agreement - it could void your patent.
This is also a good way of documenting your invention and actions. However, depending on who you talk with, asking somebody to sign an agreement can appear rude. It can imply that you don't trust them.
It is difficult to do anything with your invention if you don't talk to anyone about it. The only reason for these precautions is because of the practice of some attorneys and the people that can afford them.
There is a whole sub-culture that thrives on litigating successful innovations, which is detailed in "Five Big Lies."
If you want to talk to someone about your invention, and you don't plan on filing a patent within a year, you can just explain the situation to them.
You can tell them you invented something - you can even tell them about the benefits of your invention (not what is unique) because benefits do not disclose details of your invention. For example, I invented a new way to.... or what my invention helps to...
You can tell them you value their opinion and would like to show them the details of your invention, but you don't have a patent. The law says that if you show anybody without a clear agreement of why you showed them your invention - you have one year to file for a patent or your invention will be considered public domain.
The reason for these agreements is to exercise a degree of diligence in protecting yourself from "prospectors" looking to cash-in on somebody's gold mine.
If you hire someone to develop a prototype of your invention - you should have them sign a consulting agreement as well as a non-disclosure agreement.
A consulting agreement stipulates that the person(s) and/or company doing work for you have no legal rights to your invention including any possible suggestions or improvements they may suggest.
You should have your attorney prepare this type of agreement for your use.
In the United States and other countries, you must file for a patent within one year of publicly disclosing or commercializing your invention or you will forfeit your rights to get a patent. In many countries, any public disclosure of your invention before filing will forfeit your right to do so.
So it's a good idea to have signed confidentiality agreements until you file for a patent.
You should understand how an invention submission company operates before you submit an invention idea to them. Most successful inventors do not use or recommend invention submission/promotion companies.
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