“Who can I tell about my invention?” is a frequently asked question from our clients looking to protect their innovative concepts.
If you are considering filing a patent in the UK via the Intellectual Property Office, the EU or any other territory in the world, you will likely invalidate your application if you discuss your idea, design or prototype.
Why must you not tell anyone about your invention?
An invention has to be new and sufficiently inventive to be patentable, and in most countries it must not have been publicly disclosed before the patent application is filed. The only exception to this rule is your intellectual property expert, with whom you can disclose details of your invention in the comfort that it is in strict confidence.
Patent applications are generally subject to examination by the patent office in the country (or region, in the case of an application for a European patent) in which the patent is sought to determine whether the invention satisfies the criteria for the grant of a patent. Accordingly, if you talk about your invention at a trade fair before filing your application for example, your invention will not be patentable as it is not new.
Following receiving professional advice, you may decide that seeking legal protection by filing a patent is not the best course of action for you. It may be more cost-effective to rely on other forms of protection such as designs or trade secrets. However, if you later change your mind, your ability to protect your innovation via a patent still remains a viable option because it remains a secret.
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