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Delaying IP protection steps could be financial suicide

Where does pursuit of intellectual property protection fall on the continuum of steps to bring an amazing idea to market? Most inventors and entrepreneurs ponder this question at some point. Everyone probably has his or her own answer.

As experienced patent law practitioners, our view is that many people take a "cart before the horse" approach to this subject. Their thinking tends to follow a logic that protecting the idea is something that should follow full product development, getting a business plan in place and finding funding to get production and marketing started. But if you wait on getting patent, copyright or trademark approval, you risk seeing your hopes and dreams sunk by someone who got to the IP protection line first.

Most IP attorneys will surely agree that if you're blazing the trail with an invention, it is never too soon to begin thinking about proper IP protections. In the course of development, if you deem your idea provides a competitive edge, it's already time to examine how to address IP issues, even in early groundwork agreements.

That includes nondisclosure agreements. U.S. patent law does give you a year from the first instance of public disclosure of your idea to file for a patent, but foreign countries are not all as generous. If some third party you're working with happens to suffer a slip of the lip, you could find your idea out in the public, and now the race is on.

Getting an early start on the patent process could also save you from wasting time and money. A prior art search could reveal that someone else had the idea first and that your application is unlikely to win approval.

All the necessary steps in getting a patent carry a price. Uncertainty about what each move could cost has a way of stifling pursuit of the process. To avoid that, our law practice offers services in a way designed to deal with the complicated process without hidden costs.

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