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So you have a great invention but you are afraid that if you show it to someone, they might just steal the idea?

This instructable will show you how to gain some patent protection, and also give you some cold hard facts about protecting your inventions.

If you are an inventor, or hope to become one, then this instructable is a must read!

Don't just be an inventor, be a smart business person and protect the value of your ideas!!

If you have any questions, or would like help with your own invention (patent, prototypes, production), feel free to contact me.

Dwayne Esterline
desterline@giengineeringco.com
734-671-4295
www.giengineeringco.com

Step 1: The Bad News About Patents

First thing you need to know is that a patent is only as good as your ability to enforce it.

If someone steals your idea and starts manufacturing it, the FBI is not going to kick in their door and make them stop!

What does that mean?

Fact: Law Enforcement will not enforce your patent for you, you must enforce it through the legal system.

If someone starts making your product, then it is up to you to sue them in court, get a judgement against them, and then collect damages. Even if you have a patent, you need the financial resources to protect it through legal means. In other words, you need money for a lawyer.

So what good is a patent if you must enforce it yourself?

Patents are a mixed blessing. Reputable companies will not intentionally infringe on your patent because they do not want to risk investing in a product, and then loose everything in a court battle. Less reputable companies will INTENTIONALLY infringe on your patent if they know that you cannot afford to peruse the matter. In other words, they know you cannot afford to fight them in court. If you have very deep pockets, then this obviously does not apply. However, very few individuals can afford a multi-million dollar legal adventure!

So, what options do you have?

If you have any questions, or would like help with your own invention (patent, prototypes, production), feel free to contact me.

Dwayne Esterline
desterline@giengineeringco.com
734-671-4295
www.giengineeringco.com

Step 2: Option 1: Provisional Patent Application

The U.S. Patent Office has a special opportunity for you as an individual inventor on a shoestring budget. It is called the Provisional Patent Application.

For a $100 filing fee, along with a written description of your invention, you can file an application for a provisional patent. This provides you with a 'foot-in-the-door' on your patent, and protects you as being the first to file for a patent on your invention. This protection is for a period of one year from the date that you file your application. Go to http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/index.html#startforms for the forms you need to get started.

A provisional patent allows you one year to file a complete patent application. Don't forget, it will expire in one year!

So, why should you use the provisional patent process?

1. It provides you with SOME legal protection against having your invention stolen. This will help you scare off a few thieves, and it will show more reputable companies that you are serious about inventing.

2. It is very low cost, and you only have $100 to lose, but you stand to gain a whole lot more.

3. It may help you negotiate with manufacturers, or companies that wish to license your product. IMPORTANT: Keep the content of your Provisional Patent Application secret until you have negotiated. A shrewd company will just change your idea slightly and apply for their own patent. DO NOT LET ANY POTENTIAL COMPETITOR READ YOUR PROVISIONAL APPLICATION UNTIL THEY SIGN A CONTRACT WITH YOU!

If you have any questions, or would like help with your own invention (patent, prototypes, production), feel free to contact me.

Dwayne Esterline
desterline@giengineeringco.com
734-671-4295
www.giengineeringco.com

Step 3: Option 2: Trade Secret Protection

In 1996, US Congress created a special law that protects against the theft of Trade Secrets. If you are a legal junkie and want to read the details, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_secret.

What is a Trade Secret? Anything you want it to be! Well, not really, but close. Basically, if you have a technology or a process or an invention that you have developed for commercial purposes, then you can consider all of the technical details to be trade secrets.

So what, you say? The beauty of trade secrets is that LAW ENFORCEMENT WILL PROTECT THEM!
Let's say that you give a potential manufacturer a drawing of your invention for review purposes, and it is clearly marked as a Trade Secret, but they decide to steal the idea and make it their very own.

In that case, you can call the FBI, file a report, and they will pursue and prosecute the matter as a CRIMINAL ACT! (United States federal law section 18 U.S.C. § 1832 criminalizes the theft of trade secrets for economic gain). You do not have to pay all of the legal fees, because the United States Attorney General's office does the work for you.

Infringing on a patent is a civil matter, stealing a trae secret is a CRIMINAL MATTER!

Fantastic, you say? Well, don't get too excited just yet.

If you have any questions, or would like help with your own invention (patent, prototypes, production), feel free to contact me.

Dwayne Esterline
desterline@giengineeringco.com
734-671-4295
www.giengineeringco.com

Step 4: Step 4: Cross Your T's and Dot Your I's

If you do not do your homework, you will not have effective protection with any type of patent or trade secret law.

So, make sure you follow the rules to the letter-

1. To gain the advantage of trade secret protection, all of your info must be clearly marked as trade secrets, and you must treat the stuff like a secret. This means that you keep it secured (lock and key), you do not share it with the general public, you do not publish it, you do not leave it laying around on the kitchen table, or use copies in the bottom of your bird cage. You must treat it like you would treat a secret that is very valuable. If you do not, then it is no trade secret, and will not be protectable.

2. When you share it with a company or individual for evaluation, make certain that you explain to them that these items are trade secrets. Have them sign a little receipt, and a short confidentiality agreement. Something like "I have received for evaluation, will keep in confidence and will return these trade secrets of Joe inventor"

3. Once your product is made public, anyone can reverse engineer it and start making it. They did not steal your trade secret, they gained it from study.

4. The best protection for the up and coming inventor on a shoestring budget is a combination of trade secret and provisional patent protection. Together, this accomplishes two things- It criminalizes the theft of your idea before it is made public, and it provides you with an opportunity to patent your invention within one year of marketing it (and applying for the provisional patent).


If you have any questions, or would like help with your own invention (patent, prototypes, production), feel free to contact me.

Dwayne Esterline
desterline@giengineeringco.com
734-671-4295
www.giengineeringco.com

Step 5: Step 5: Go Negotiate!!

The greatest invention in the world is worthless unless you tell the world about it!

If you have a great idea, you may be able to market it and turn it into a cash stream. Follow these basic steps:

1. Research the market and study prior patents/technology very thoroughly before you spend a dime on your invention. You do not want to spend years of your life and thousands of dollars- only to find out that your idea has been done before.

2. Write out a good description of your idea and draw a basic sketch. If necessary, make a working prototype (see my other instructables on how to make prototypes- coming soon)

3. File a provisional patent application and mark all of your documents and prototypes as trade secrets.

4. Identify possible buyers of your invention, and bug them until they will spend a few minutes talking to you.

5. If you have a REALLY great invention, they may be interested in it, and be willing to discuss licensing or purchase. You are now in a perfect position to negotiate and reveal your full technology.

For only $100 you have gained the advantages of patent protection for one year, as well as the full might of the US Department of Justice in protecting your trade secrets from theft!

Go invent!!!

If you have any questions, or would like help with your own invention (patent, prototypes, production), feel free to contact me.

Dwayne Esterline
desterline@giengineeringco.com
734-671-4295
www.giengineeringco.com
Thaaaaaaaaank you for your sincere , I may add it is the best method to gain from your invention<br>according to my research on this matter. And wish you success in your projects.
Step 1: Go talk to a patent attorney. The first visit should be free and you will learn something. I would recommend this before attempting to do anything. Do not take legal advice concerning patents from anyone who isn't a registered patent attorney or a patent agent. I am not a patent attorney, but I have filed a provisional patent in the past for myself (and will file more). Please be careful with your intellectual property and your cash!
And, before you see a patent attorney, there are a dozen steps to be done so you are sure you are patenting the right thing. And, there are ways to make money on an idea without a patent. for more information visit our website - www.inventionperfection.com
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Thanks man great tut
Are there any ideas on this web site that would require patent protection?
That's a good question. An important step in the world of inventing is for the inventor to chagne their perspective, and think like an INVESTOR. As an investor, you will ask,"What protection do I have if I invest my resources in this idea?" In other words, can it be legally protected in the marketplace so that i can recoup my investment and make a profit? And how will this protection be accomplished? So, to answer your question- every idea on this website could be protected in some way, but a patent is not neccessarily the answer. If the invention cannot be protected, then it has no value to investors- in other words, don't waste your time on it unless you consider it a hobby -(Which is OK too! Inventing is fun)

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