Inventors are often very concerned that their great ideas could be usurped. After all if you came up with a great idea couldn’t someone else? If you tell someone about it could they steal it? These are not invalid concerns, but I would caution against spending a great deal of money up front on patent protection to the detriment of actually getting your ideas to market. You’ll have a patent and no product and no money.
There is another option though – a provisional patent or more formally a provisional application for a patent. They can be completed without an attorney and filed for only $130. Only a minimal level of information is required:
- a written description of the invention
- any drawings necessary to understand the invention,
However a provisional patent puts your project on a tight timeline. A ‘real’ patent application must be filed within 12 months with the requisite attorney fees, search fees, etc likely totally from $5 to $30k+.
Although offering much less protection your idea can be protected by non-disclosure agreements or confidentiality agreements. NDAs are pretty typical nowadays and create an exception that your ideas will not be shared with third parties. After all in the early stages you’ll be discussing your ideas with professionals who’s job it is to realize inventor’s dreams not steal them.
So in summary don’t spend all your money on patents until the time is right.
Disclaimer: No attorneys were consulted for this blog post. This a layman’s interpretation of the applicable laws and regulations and does not substitute for the advise of the good patent attorney. Patent protection is an important part of any business plan.