Have you come up with a brilliant product invention? And are you soon going to launch a brand and business to promote and sell your new product? If the answer to both questions is yes, you’ll undoubtedly want to protect your new product invention idea.
Let’s face it: the last thing you want is for a rival to steal your idea and claim it as their own. After all, you’ve put in a lot of research and hard work into conceptualizing your idea and no doubt spent a lot of money developing it.
Here are some practical ways that you can protect your new product invention so you can promote it without any worries:
Get product testers to sign NDAs
In case you didn’t know, an NDA is a Non-Disclosure Agreement. In a nutshell, an NDA is a legal document you can have people sign so they won’t do certain things. In this context, an NDA will protect your invention from getting ‘leaked’ to competitors or the media.
When you develop your invention to the point where it’s a workable prototype, you’ll undoubtedly want people to test it for you. That way, you can gain valuable feedback about its use ‘in the wild’ and make a list of issues that need fixing before it goes into production.
The trouble is, some product testers could accidentally reveal details about your product to third parties. You don’t want people outside of your closed circle of product testers and your business to know anything about your new product invention just yet.
An NDA will help you protect your product idea because it provides legal assurances that your product testers will help protect your invention. If they don’t, you can launch a lawsuit against them for breaching the terms of the NDA, amongst other things.
Check no-one else came up with your idea first
When you launch a new product invention to market and claim that it’s a unique and innovative product, you must back up that claim. That means you’ll need to conduct thorough research before the general public release of your new product.
Here are some of the ways that you can conduct those checks:
The first thing you should do is spend time searching the Internet for products that do the same things as yours. Other inventors may have come up with the same concept as yours but perhaps labeled or categorized their products differently from your product invention.
Your Internet research should include a mix of text-based searches and Google Image searches. Once you’re satisfied that no-one else previously invented a product like yours, you can then move onto the next stage of your checks.
You must check if anyone has previously filed patents for product designs or ideas that effectively mirror yours. To conduct this research, you’ll need to use a patent lawyer as they can check both national and international patent registrations.
It’s a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but it means that you can guarantee no-one else has thought of your product concept and protected the idea with a patent.
You might be wondering why you should go to the trouble and expense of doing a patent check. It’s not a mandatory check by any means, but it means no-one can sue you for stealing their idea if they thought of it first.
Check that you’ve got a watertight legal defense
So far, you’ve made sure that product testers won’t inadvertently give away (or sell) your product invention idea to potential competitors. You’ve also done your due diligence by checking for existing product inventions and filed patents.
What happens if you launch your product and someone randomly appears and claims that you’ve stolen their idea? Although rare, those situations sometimes occur, and you need to have a line of defense prepared for them.
You should seek the right business help to help you mount a solid defense; this should include the following:
- Researching similar claims and lawsuits filed previously to use as part of your defense. Doing so can help you persuade a judge to throw such claims and cases out of court effectively;
- Keeping evidence of your comprehensive product and patent searches. You can use that as proof you checked for existing product inventions as much as reasonably possible;
- Record a log detailing your product design and development history. It’s a useful timeline that you can also use as evidence that you created your invention rather than stealing someone else’s idea.
Register brand and product trademarks and patents
As your product invention progresses, you want to ensure that no-one else will steal your product concept once it goes on general sale. It makes sense, therefore, to register your brand and product trademarks and patents.
You’ve already taken steps to check you haven’t inadvertently used someone else’s idea and concept. Now it’s time to protect what you’ve created and stop others from doing that to you. Once your prior patent and trademark checks conclude, you can then register yours.
The process of registering trademarks and patents will differ from country to country. Be sure to research the procedures thoroughly before committing, so you don’t waste any time or money in the process.
Secure your development processes
Lastly, it makes sense to secure your development processes. You could achieve that goal by keeping production processes in-house. You could also use multiple third-party manufacturing firms to make specific parts of your product and assemble them all in-house.
Another point to consider is securing technical drawings and concepts digitally on an encrypted storage platform. Be sure to use several security layers when securing those vital documents, such as MFA (multi-factor authentication) and encryption.
Those documents are, in essence, the blueprints of your product design and concept. If they fell into the wrong hands, a competitor could easily manufacture clones of your product and claim it as their own.
The above guide will hopefully have given you some food for thought on protecting your product invention. By taking the right practical steps, you will minimize the chances of any problems occurring before or during your new product launch.