When you have a surge of inspiration, you may come up with a completely new way to perform a task with a device or a much more efficient solution than the one currently used in your industry. You could cut the cost to manufacture a product significantly or create a more efficient method for synthesizing a chemical.
Such innovative concepts are why patents exist in the first place. When you devote yourself to learning about and analyzing a product or industry, you deserve compensation for whatever success you achieve and the new ideas you generate. A patent helps you retain control over an idea, process or product so that you profit off of it.
To move into large-scale production or bring in investors to further develop the idea, you will likely need a prototype. How can you protect your company from intellectual property theft when producing a prototype for a new concept?
You can protect yourself with contracts
One of the biggest risks of creating a prototype is that the company tasked with designing or manufacturing it for you might leak or sell the information.
Executing non-disclosure agreements with every company you discuss the prototype with will prevent them from sharing the information with others and make it actionable if they do so despite the contract.
If you attempt to develop the prototype at your own facilities, any workers with access to more information about the project will also need to sign non-disclosure agreements to protect your company from their potential misconduct.
You don’t need a final patent to have protection
You can initiate the patent process before seeking investors or producing a prototype. In addition to executing non-disclosure agreements with all the appropriate parties, you can file the paperwork for your patent.
Patent prosecution can take months or sometimes years to complete. Starting the process even in the early stages of concept development will allow you to inform those that you work with and your employees about the patent pending for the concept to further deter intellectual property theft. Protecting your original concept is crucial if you hope to patent the idea later. Having the right support during the patent application and prosecution process will improve your chances of success.