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  • How to protect your idea??

    Discussion in 'Protecting your designs or inventions' started by cyberking, Aug 4, 2009.

    1. cyberking

      cyberking Member

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      I want to make a prototype of a project I did in my my final year at Uni. I am terrified of someone ripping me off as soom as it's in the public domins. As a humble student how would I go about getting some sort of protection? Money is an issue for me right now.Do you think my uni would help me? Is that a good idea to ask them?

      Is there a inexpensive way of patenting my idea. I think patents are very expensive? What about posting your design to yourself so the design concept is date stamped by the post office? If anyone tries to copy your idea you have proof your idea was developed before the date stamped on the envelope?
      I just don't want to risk anything... or am I being too paranoid?? :shock:
       
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    3. mEvenden

      mEvenden Member

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      Without money there actually vey little that you can do. Some universities do have patent offices. I know at my school we have one which will pay for the patent but retain a fairly sizable percentage of any money that patent generates. Companies looking to develop technologies using that may frown upon that aspect.

      In the US the mailing-yourself-your idea is a myth. In the UK, the patent office has this written on their website:

      In reality, the only thing a patent typically will really effect is your right to sue someone. You also generally have to patent the very specific technology you are using, not the product itself. An extensive patent search may show you that part of your idea has already been patented in some form. It's understandable to be protective of your work, but the reality is industrial espionage is pretty rare on internet forums.

      It would take someone more work to try and steal your idea and get it patented before you then it would for them to email you say "I'd like to help you develop this idea, and I'll give you $10k for it"
       
    4. aknotley

      aknotley Active Member

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      This is actually a really common question and here are the answers:

      * You're not as likely to get ripped off as you think
      * There's not a lot you can do to prevent getting ripped of.
      * You could never afford to enforce a patent even if you could afford one in the first place.

      Actually, quality, good value products don't have much to worry about when it comes to copying. If you have a good product there, it would be best to either manufacture yourself for the right price, or try to sell/license it to manufacturers. None of the companies that you're familiar with will rip off your design.
       
    5. cyberking

      cyberking Member

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      James Dyson tried to get his vacuum cleaner idea adopted by all the main companies. No-one took up the idea and he started his own manufacture. Since then he has sued the competition for copying his ideas. I wonder if James Dyson (net worth $1billion) has your opinion? :roll:
       
    6. engineer8296

      engineer8296 New Member

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      What if your idea is an improvement for a company to introduce. Shoulld you be concerned with the company stealing your idea by just telling them about it? Will they give you credit and buy your idea? How do you prevent the same thing from happening to you as in the blinking eye / delayed wiper case?
       
    7. Tom_F

      Tom_F Member

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      First things first. If someone won't sign an NDA (download your own from the internet rather than paying a solicitor to write you one) walk away. NDA's may not offer you loads of protection but they provide a trail of accountability and will highlight someone's credibility from the outset.

      I'm afraid that if you are genuinely serious about commercialising your concept in reality you have little choice but to go down the patent route. This is for several reasons:

      1. You WILL need the protection they afford you if you want to make a commercial success of your concept.
      2. Whether you decide to licence your concept or manufacture it (again, something which you need to consider seriously) large, established organisations will not talk to you about it unless you have it protected to make sure that it does not infringe their IP.
      3. Prior to a patent being filed you will have to undergo a patent search. This is one of the most useful things you can do as not only will it tell you what you will be up against it will also show you ways in which others have looked at the same issue (if you are a good designer this will be useful for the development of your concept through to production).
      4. The world of manufacture and fabrication is complex with sub contractors several layers deep some times. Unless managed properly you cannot guarantee your IP's security with NDA's through such a complex chain, even when simply quoting for work.

      There are however a couple of ways that you can save cash:

      1. When using a patent lawyer for a patent search pay no more than £150. We use a local one here in Sheffield who works specifically for inventors.
      2. Spend time on the internet researching your concept and similar ones to get a short, simple but effective search term for the patent search and agree this with the patent lawyer.
      3. Can it be protected with a design right rather than a patent? If it's inventive step is in its function then you can't.

      There is a reason that patents are both used heavily and are expensive, if you are committed to your goals of commercialising a product you have to make the investment because if you don't somebody else will.
       
    8. mEvenden

      mEvenden Member

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      Cyberking is exactly right. If you think a major corporation won't steal a small-time inventors' ideas, then you are delusional.
       
    9. mEvenden

      mEvenden Member

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      Good post Tom. Sensible advice
       
    10. GarethW

      GarethW Chief Clicker Staff Member

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      I agree - anyone who's ever seen Dragons' Den will know that their first question is always "have you got a patent?"

      If you ain't got one you ain't got any credibility.
       
    11. Tom_F

      Tom_F Member

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      I'm not convinced that large organisations will steal your idea. It all really comes down to the product and the market that it operates in I guess. You have to bear in mind that if you develop a product it will cost time and resource regardless of whether you are a multinational conglomerate or "Fred in the shed" and if you want to make someone else's product yours you'll still need to invest time, resource and effort through a large decision making chain as well as alter your retail and distribution network to accommodate it all; no mean feat! The main difference between large businesses and inventors/designers/entrepreneurs is the bottom line. For example if you develop a product which generates £1/2M per anum turnover this will look nice and healthy sat in your bank account right? What if your company makes 100 times that day in, day out globally before you've even got out of bed? Are you REALLY that bothered about all the effort required to get that product to market? I think not. This is the fundamental reason that very few inventors will make a fortune on a single product. James Dyson was right to protect his idea for the same reason; he had developed a disruptive technology that was likely to affect the bottom line of his competitors over a sustained period of time and this would not go down well in the industry.
      So if you are a bit of a risk taker and know the market the product is entering then it comes down to the product and the resources required to get it to market as well as the state of the market.
      I may, on the odd occasion take the risk but it would be calculated. Having said that I think that there are more benefits to a patent than simply securing rights to commercialise IP so I would more than likely have a patent application in place already! :D
       

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