.You stumbled on what you think is a brilliant idea for a business. What should you do next? How can you protect your idea and make sure no one steals it from you?
From the book “Your Little Legal Companion: Helpful Advice for Life’s Big Events” published by Nolo, here are 10 steps to take when you have a brilliant idea:
- Before anything else, think of the marketability of your idea.
- File a provisional patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office to give you a patent pending status for at least a year.
- You need to use “reasonable methods of secrecy” to protect your idea, including non-disclosure agreements and labelling your materials as confidential.
- Patent protection is not equal to money. Only 3% of patent applications are turned into commercial products.
- No trade, no trademark.
- Search the patent office records at USPTO or hire a professional patent searcher to check if no one has patented your idea before.
- Patents or trademarks only give you the right to go after those who infringe on your idea. You still have to go after the infringers, and that means money.
- Know the feasibility of manufacturing your product. If the cost per unit is higher than competing products, you are not likely to get the deal — even if your idea is brilliant.
- There will be deductions. If you go for licensing, watch out for a long list of deductions before coming up with your royalty amount.
- Have any more ideas? Successful inventors come up with lots of ideas; they don’t rely on just one.