Protecting your ideaOverview
Protecting your idea
At some point you must legally protect your intellectual property (IP) or you will not be able to:
- Disclose it safely.
- Be recognised in law as its owner.
- Profit from its commercial exploitation.
- Prevent or discourage its unauthorised use by others.
There are several forms of protection known as intellectual property rights (IPR). Usually, the best way to protect an invention as it evolves is to use a strategic combination of IPR.
Many inventors assume that the only way to protect their idea is to patent it. While patents tend to be of primary importance (see The patenting process later), other forms of IPR should also be considered. One or more of these may have an important role to play in protecting your idea.
Another important role will be played by your patent attorney. IPR is a complex area of law that holds many dangers for inexperienced inventors. A patent attorney's advice will be helpful when you are planning an effective IP protection strategy, and essential if you decide to patent your idea.
Despite their name, patent attorneys are usually experts in all forms of IPR. They can improve your chances of obtaining worthwhile protection for your idea, and can act for you when problems arise.
Your patent attorney should be able to advise you fully on IP matters in your own country and all of Europe. For IP matters outside Europe, most patent attorney firms in your own country will be able to act for you, or arrange representation, in any country.
However, it is important to understand that no patent attorney can ensure that your IPR will bring you any financial reward. The expertise of patent attorneys is restricted to IP law. You or your team of other experts must take responsibility for the commercial success of your invention.