If you have a great idea you are looking to develop, you will want to take as many steps as possible to make sure it is successful. This includes protecting your idea to prevent it from getting stolen or duplicated. We have over 30 years of experience developing products while upholding strict confidentiality for our customers.
It’s a paramount concern when selecting a engineer or designer, as well as ensuring measures are taken to protect your product from being infringed at every stage of development.
Protecting Your Product from Being Copied
When looking at product protection through the development process, you will want to consider non-disclosure as well as patents and trademarks.
Non-Disclosure Agreements or NDA’s, will detail how information is to be discussed and distributed between all parties involved in a business venture or agreement. Good NDAs will outline the following:
- Who the parties are involved in the potential business transaction and what their roles are (I.e. client, recipient, etc.)
- How long the NDA will last. Normally this ranges for 3-5 years.
- What information, data, files, or other materials are confidential and how confidential information will be treated and submitted with permission.
Most companies will be willing to sign an NDA with you. In fact if they are not willing to, that is usually a red flag and you should be careful when considering moving forward with them.
Getting a Patent
While NDA’s are a good way to protect yourself internally, meaning with the parties you are directly dealing with, you will still want to protect your invention’s intellectual property once you’ve launched it. If you don’t, then someone could buy your product from an online store such as Amazon or wherever you plan on selling it, and then take your product to another engineer, reverse engineer it, and make their own version of it.
Patents are the best way to stop this from happening. A patent will prevent anyone from copying your idea and selling it in the country the patent was applied for.
There are two types of patents used for most consumer products – design patents and utility patents.
Design patents will protect an aesthetic feature or appearance of a product. The patent generally applies to a product’s unique shape or accessories.
Utility patents protect how a product functions. It’s usually better to get a utility patent because with a design patent someone could change enough of the design of a product so that it doesn’t infringe on the patent. It’s much harder to work around a utility patent where how a product works is protected. You can get both patents on the same product if they don’t have the existing patents.
Check the U.S Patent & Trademark Office for more information.
Getting a Trademark
Trademarks are another way to protect your invention.
You should trademark the name of your product, since your branding might very well be the heart and soul of your new invention. It’s especially wise to make sure that you can use the name you have for your product. Not too long ago Apple chose to settle an expensive lawsuit case for the iPad name that ended up costing them $60 million.
But you aren’t limited to just trademarking names and letters. Coca Cola trademarked the shape of their bottle. MGM trademarked the sound of their lion that you see in many opening scenes of movies.
If your product is not one that can be patented, you still have several options in the form of trademarks to help protect your investment.
After you’ve decided on what you want to trademark, you’ll want to have a trademark attorney search the national registry for similar products to make sure there is no infringement. Then all that is needed to do is to file a trademark application with the US patent office.
Choosing the Right Protection for Your Product
With a variety of ways to protect your product, it’s best if you contact a patent or trademark lawyer so they can look up what has already been proven and give you advice on how to avoid infringement issues and protect your product.
Note: The information provided by Phoenix Product Development is for general informational purposes only. This information is not, nor should it be considered legal advice.