Your idea is protected in more ways than you may imagine – many of which, you may also be surprised to read, have nothing to do with owning a patent! So many inventors become immersed in the process of filing for a patent and obsessed with protecting their idea; what they fail to realize, however, is that your idea will and can never be fully protected. And furthermore, the process of filing for a patent is expensive and time-consuming. I hope these other forms of protection convince you to hold off on calling that attorney just yet.
Companies fear bad publicity. What mega-corporation wants the public to believe they’re ripping off the little guy? Several years ago, a similar scandal occurred with Victoria’s Secret when a woman claimed that the company had stolen her design for a bra. Dozens of news articles were written, the woman appeared on the Dr. Phil Show, and Victoria’s Secret image was damaged. The Internet makes possible the rapid transit of information – overnight, tens of thousands of people knew what had occurred!
This is why you should be sure to document all interactions with a prospective licensee. For example, confirm all negotiations made over the phone through e-mail as well. Make sure to have the company respond (in e-mail!) that they agree about what was discussed. Make copies of everything. Simply put: have it all on paper. This protection is unbeatable. This paper trail will serve as easy proof of who you talked to, what was discussed, and when.
And finally, always conduct yourself in a professional manner. Creating a paper trail is just one example of many actions that speak volumes to a company. These actions let a company know that you’re serious and informed. If a company perceives an inventor to be a joke, they are going to be much more likely to pawn his idea. Get a business telephone line, speak formally, do your research, etc. Acting professionally will dramatically reduce the likelihood of your idea being ripped off.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 30 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight,
a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas
and the skills needed to succeed. You can listen to the weekly radio
show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media
outlets find you for news stories.