It is important that you do not make your innovations public by disclosing the novelty - but what are your options in creating an idea homepage on Smart Idea Store or discussing your innovations with investors and project partners?
In most circumstances, your idea may only be commercially viable if it remains confidential and is not publicly disclosed. This is due to two reasons:
1. Patent Protection
2. Trade Secrets
A public disclosure of your innovations may mean that you cannot apply for a patent or that your patent application may be invalid.
The other way to protect your idea is to make it a trade secret, like the recipe for Coca-Cola, but you have to have confidence that your competitors cannot reverse engineer your products or that you will be first to market and be established before your rivals launch their product.
You will still need to discuss your innovations with an investor, project partner or innovation support agency so you can keep your ideas confidential by entering into a confidentiality agreement.
The same issues are present when creating your idea homepage on Smart Idea Store. The idea homepage is effectively a public disclosure and you need to decide how much information you disclose and the benefit of disclosing the information to attracting investors and project partners to participate on your project.
The Idea Homepage and Confidentiality
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the publication of your innovation in an idea homepage is a public disclosure. As such we have a few recommendations to ensure that you only disclose information that you are happy to disclose and that you do not detrimentally affect your chances of success.
We recommend that:
Patent Protection and Confidentiality
Ideas can only be protected by a patent if they haven’t been publicly disclosed. Therefore you should not speak with third parties, present it at a meeting or conference or publish details about your idea that could be considered a public disclosure if you want to take out a patent.
Having said that, there is every chance that you will want to discuss your idea with a technical or commercial expert or meet with a patent attorney to instruct them to draft a patent on your behalf.
Project partners who you will pay for their service will happily enter into a confidentiality agreement. As you will be the only party in the confidentiality agreement disclosing confidential information (the disclosing party), this type of agreement is often called a one-way confidentiality agreement, with your project partner receiving confidential information (the receiving party). This type of agreement means you can seek financial compensation if they use your confidential information.
Project partners who have intellectual property of their own will want to enter into a mutual confidentiality agreement where both parties provide information that the other party keeps confidential.
Some companies do not like signing confidentiality agreements; they receive so many approaches from individuals or companies with new ideas that signing confidentiality agreements with one inventor might affect their freedom to operate as they cannot do business with another inventor with a similar idea or another solution for the same problem.
This does not necessarily mean you cannot speak with them about your idea; it just means that you have to remember at all times that there is no confidentiality agreement in place. Many inventors refuse to discuss their ideas with companies without a confidentiality agreement but you can easily give enough information about your idea and why it is better than the competition without disclosing any confidential information.
We have provided a confidentiality agreement (also called a CDA, non-disclosure agreement or NDA) as part of the Inventor’s Pack which you can download and use to discuss your ideas under confidentiality.
More information about intellectual property rights and confidentiality issues is available through the Intellectual Property Office post: An Introduction to Intellectual Property.
Smart Idea Store
January 11, 2013