One of the first things to do when you have an idea is to write it down. Documentation is the most important step you can make to in securing future rights to your idea. The documentation needs to be in a tight bound or engineering type notebook. These are like a basic school notebook that pages cannot be added. It's also a good idea to get a notebook that it's also difficult and noticeable if any pages are removed.
The notebook should then be your diary about your product or idea. Who you talk to, what you do to develop it. Rough drawings etc. The idea behind this is to establish “first" or “primary" claim on the idea. By having all the documentation and scribbles dated and written out, it becomes much easier to establish when the idea was first conceived and by whom.
So you have the product designs and idea all written out. Now it's time to decide if the time, expense and trouble of getting a patent is worth it. There are three basic factors that drive the decision to apply for a patent.
1. Market potential. Is your product the next big thing that will literally be worth millions if not billions of dollars? If the answer is “YES" then it's worth the effort to obtain a patent. Unfortunately , most decisions are that clearly defined. Many products with limited or local market potential can make the ambitious entrepreneur wealthy but may not be worth the effort to obtain patent protection. Limited market appeal doesn't mean a product isn't worth the effort to develop. Somewhere between these two extremes it becomes increasingly important to obtain patent ownership rights.
2. Selling the idea to another company. When companies buy ideas, designs, etc, they're really purchasing intellectual property rights. If you haven't established ownership or those rights however, anyone and everyone can take your great product idea and call it their own. It would then be up to you to establish your first claim of ownership. A patent establishes your position as owner.
3. Dollar Value. The higher the value of the product, the more it should be considered as a patent candidate.
The patent process is not that difficult to navigate but it may be a good idea to consider enlisting some assistance. You can get additional information through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. They're online at www.uspto. gov/web/offices/pac/design/toc.html. A good patent attorney could also be considered to handle the paperwork and application filings on your behalf with the federal government.
Once a patent is approved and issued, you have established ownership rights to your idea or product. This doesn't mean that you are protected however. Once obtained, it's then up to YOU to defend your rights through the court system should anyone use your design ideas without your permission. This can be a very expensive proposition and is the reason why the three points above should be considered before applying for a patent.
Abigail Franks writes on a variety of subjects which include family, travel, and business. For more information on patents and patent protection visit the site at http://www.patent-attorney.livingwellzone.com