No Patent No Problem – Shield Your Business Idea with These Strategies
Let us paint you a picture—you have started your business, and finally have a ‘Eureka!’ moment, where an idea or a product in development has the markers of propelling your business to unimaginable heights.
Soon enough, the fear of the concept or product being stolen starts to creep in, with the stress of spending thousands of dollars on a patent.
The fear of the idea getting stolen is perfectly rational as, at some point after research, you would want to talk with manufacturers, distributors, or a professional expert for their opinions and to take your business further.
Freedomz/Shutterstock: Business protection
We are here to tell you that if you get creative, a patent does not have to be the only way to protect your ‘Eureka!’ moment. Patents cost a considerable amount of time and money, which you do not have in abundance when you are just starting.
Read on for our strategies to safeguard your brilliant ideas:
fizkes/Shutterstock: Thorough research
We cannot stress this point enough. Anytime you bring somebody on board, perform a background check on them. Do they have proper credentials? How is their history of working with other clients? Is any feedback available?
If you find any red flags, consider clearing the air with them. Digital space is filled with malicious people, and if their work ethic is not up to your standards or best for your business, it is not worth your time and effort.
Take Help of Legal Documents
The following contracts can help you maintain your closely guarded secrets with the oversight of your attorney:
- Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) – This legal document prohibits the parties from sharing any data learned during collaboration with third parties. It is essentially a confidentiality agreement and becomes even more powerful if it does not have an expiration date.
- Non-Compete Agreement – A contract that prohibits an individual or entity from setting up a shop directly in competition with your business. This agreement can be your best bet to avoid having your idea stolen.
- Work for Hire Agreement – If you hire a third party to tweak your product, you can have them sign a work-for-hire agreement. It gives you the sole right to any developments made by them on your product. You may still have to list the person as a co-inventor, but they will have no ownership over your invention.
U.S. Patent & Trademark Department
The good news is; you do not have to apply for a patent right away. You can file a provisional application for a patent for as low as $100, and the application can be submitted online or via a ‘Invent + Patent’ system or ‘Patent Wizard.’ Applying for the main patent costs a huge sum of money and can take a year to get approved.
Another way is to apply for a trademark. They do cost more money but give you ownership. It will help you cement your brand as registered trademarks become synonymous with the product.
Build Rapport with Competitors
Indypendenz/Shutterstock: Cordial business relationship
It will not sound as absurd after we explain the fine print to you. History has shown, countless times, that building a mutually beneficial relationship with your competitor pays off in the long run. If they have no reason to evaluate you as a threat, they will leave you alone.
Our tips will help you protect your ideas as we know how hard it can be to stand out in the saturated world of evolution. It would be wise if you involve your legal counsel before signing or drafting any legal document for a third party.
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