Patents help protect your invention which may be a product, design, plant, or utility (machine or process). To obtain a patent your idea must have a use even if you never market it, and it must be a new idea that has never been patented before.
Often when an inventor or business creates an idea or product, they are understandably excited; however, it's important to protect your idea from your competitors. In some cases, the competitor may even work inside your own company. It's essential to protect your idea before it is officially released. You can help protect your idea by,
It is not difficult to apply for a provisional patent and it can help protect your idea before the product or invention is fully complete (up to 12 months). You can apply for a provisional patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
You should limit access to the details of your idea to help protect it from being copied before you have a chance to apply for a patent. Only those who are directly working on the project should have access to the product or even the product notes. Keep details offline and restrict discussions with family or friends.
Employees, as well as anyone with access to the product, should sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Investors, manufactures or journalists with access to the product before it is released to the public, should also sign this agreement.
Startups often start pursuing funding before they receive their patent. Provisional patent applications are low-cost to file and help give you time to raise capital before manufacturing. Provisional patents often help startups raise more capital than they would without one, so it's often worth applying for.
Yes, you can. You can sell it outright or enter a Licensing Agreement to have another company manufacture your product. Researching the market and competition may help you determine the value of your patent.
If you sell your patent, you sell all rights to the invention. Some inventors do this if they don't want to run a business and would rather go on to invent new products. It's often a one-time purchase.
If you sign a Licensing Agreement, you are allowing another business to manufacture, distribute, market or sell your product in exchange for royalty payments.