If you have a new invention, the chances are that you either want to exploit it yourself or licence it to other businesses or manufacturers in order to make money. However, without the right protection, licencing or otherwise disposing of your intellectual property, can put your invention at risk of being neglected by others.
Unfortunately, many inventors reveal too much about their idea without having the proper protection in place. This allows competitor businesses to manufacture your invention without giving you the recognition and value you deserve.
If you are actively approaching a variety of businesses in order to find the best deal or partner to work with, you may be inadvertently increasing the risk of your invention being unlawfully exploited. However, there are ways to protect your property, for example, by applying for registration of your invention as a patent.
For more information regarding what you can do to stop people from using your invention without your permission, take a look at the article below.
What protects an invention?
When it comes to protecting your intellectual property, there are many ways to use the law to your advantage. Patents can provide protection for a range of original inventions, from machinery to new types of chemical processes.
How do you protect an invention in the UK?
The best way to protect something that you have invented is to apply for patent protection, as soon as possible. It’s crucial that you establish your legal rights to your invention quickly to ensure that you retain all the monopoly rights in it and its use.
In some instances, it’s not possible for you to apply for patent protection. In these situations, one of the best ways to prevent businesses from unlawfully exploiting your invention by using non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements. By doing this, if a business breaks such an agreement and uses your invention without your consent, you may be able to issue a claim against them and recover damages by way of compensation.
Within a non-disclosure agreement, it’s important to consider the following four points:
- What specifically is confidential?
- What is not confidential?
- How long do the obligations within the agreement last?
- What are the consequences of breaching the agreement?
Additionally, if you are unable to successfully obtain a patent registration or to convince your counterparties to sign a non-disclosure agreement, you can potentially protect your exclusive rights to an invention by using the following tactics:
- Before you show your invention to a business or manufacturer, consider their reputation. Have they been accused of stealing an invention before? How do other businesses that have worked with them feel about the relationship?
- Only disclose the general idea of your invention and avoid giving details that would allow anyone to reproduce the idea without your consent.
- Contact a legal professional for advice and support as you approach businesses with your invention.
Does my invention qualify for patent protection?
Obtaining a patent registration prevents other companies or individuals from using your invention unless they do so unlawfully.
In order to qualify for a patent, you must satisfy the three criteria set out below, as stated in the Patents Act 1995:
In order to apply for patent protection for your invention, your creation must be brand new. This means that there must not be anything like it already published.
Inventive step means that your invention should not be obvious to an expert who is working in the field and who is skilled in that area.
To satisfy the requirements of a patent application, it must be possible to manufacture your invention. Because of this, it’s not possible to acquire a patent for an idea or theory. For example, methods of doing business are excluded, as are computer programs.
What type of invention cannot be patented?
Not everything can be patented. For inventions that cannot, you may be able to rely on other forms of protection such as registering a trademark or the inherent right to copyright in certain works and circumstances. Here is a list of types of inventions that cannot be patented:
- Methods regarding medical diagnosis or treatments
- Scientific or mathematical theories and methods
- Artistic work, for example, literary, music and art
- Laws of nature
- Inventions that a detrimental to the public good, for example, how to make a nuclear bomb
- An idea or way of thinking, for instance, an idea for a new game or business plan
- Software with no-technical applications
Can a profession help me to protect my inventions?
Obtaining professional assistance in order to protect your invention is one of the most effective ways to prevent individuals or companies from using your ideas unlawfully. For example, without the help of a solicitor or patent attorney, successfully registering a patent can take several years. This is time during which your invention is at risk.
For expert help with protecting an invention or any other area of intellectual property law, please contact our Bournemouth office on 01202 292 424 or fill in our online enquiry form for a quick response.