The guide summarises the key stages of taking an invention to market, and contains a handpicked list of websites, organisations and resources that will help you find what you need to know, and fast.
My colleagues have gone to a lot of trouble to find useful sources as well as explain some aspects of Intellectual Property (IP) in plain English (which is easier said than done).
Is your invention original?
It is important to search to see if anyone has already published or used a similar invention to your own, as this may mean that you cannot protect it. You can conduct a quick search yourself using free websites. However, we recommend that you gain advice from an expert to help you with your search and consult a patent attorney to advise if your invention is patentable. It takes 18 months for a new patent publication to be published so occasional checking on recently published patent specifications is also a good idea.
It also makes mention of my current favourite type of IP – Trade Secrets, as exemplified by the Coca-Cola formula.
Trade secrets and confidentiality agreements
Trade secrets and confidentiality are not covered by standard intellectual property law but can be useful for things which are not easy to formally protect, such as internal business procedures, recipes for food and business contacts. They last for ever if you manage to stop them leaking, so keeping a manufacturing process secret can give you a longer-lasting monopoly than a patent.
You automatically have a right to sue somebody for breaching confidence if: the information is not already common knowledge; it was disclosed to the other person in conditions that implied that they should keep it confidential; and you have suffered, or are likely to suffer, actual damage because of the disclosure. Having a formal non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement is often a safer option.
We also produce a general business advice pdf guide we call Business Essentials.