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Confidentiality for your invention. You can talk to a patent practitioner (patent agent or patent attorney) about your invention just like you can talk to your lawyer about your contract or divorce. You are free to discuss your invention with a patent agent or patent attorney. They are under a legal obligation to keep your information confidential, unless you instruct otherwise. We offer a free patent consultation appointment with our patent attorney.
Invention disclosures are confidential because invention disclosures to patent practitioners are covered by client controlled privilege. Information disclosed about an invention cannot be used or shared without your permission.
Inventor Tip: Patent agents hold the same basic professional liability insurance as that held by attorneys, just limited to the practice of patent prosecution.
What is Invention Confidentiality?
Invention confidentiality refers to the protection of sensitive information related to an invention. This includes the idea, design, and any associated documentation, such as diagrams or blueprints. Confidentiality can take different forms, including trade secrets, patents, and non-disclosure agreements.
Legal Protection of Invention Confidentiality
Trade secrets, such as the recipe for Coca-Cola or the algorithm behind Google’s search engine, are a common form of protecting invention confidentiality. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) defines trade secrets as any information that has economic value and is not generally known or readily ascertainable by others. The owner of a trade secret can take legal action against anyone who discloses or uses the information without permission.
Patents, on the other hand, are legal documents that grant the owner exclusive rights to an invention for a limited period. Patents require a detailed description of the invention, which is published and available to the public. However, patent owners can take legal action against anyone who infringes on their exclusive rights. Read more in our article about what is a patent.
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are legal contracts that protect confidential information from being disclosed or used by others. NDAs are commonly used when discussing an invention with third parties, such as potential investors or manufacturers.
Why is Invention Confidentiality Important When Working with a USPTO Registered Patent Attorney?
A United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) registered patent attorney is a legal professional with expertise in patent law and can help inventors secure legal protection for their inventions. However, when discussing an invention with an attorney, there is a risk of disclosure. Inventors may be concerned that discussing their invention with an attorney could lead to their idea being stolen or leaked. While this is a valid concern, it is essential to understand that USPTO registered patent attorneys are bound by ethical and legal obligations to maintain confidentiality.
4 Safeguards to Protect Confidentiality
USPTO registered patent attorneys can take several steps to safeguard invention confidentiality. These steps include discussing confidentiality with the inventor, ensuring proper documentation of the invention, limiting access to the invention information, and utilizing non-disclosure agreements.
- Discussing Confidentiality with your Attorney: Inventors should discuss confidentiality with their attorney and ensure that their attorney understands the importance of protecting their invention information.
- Ensuring Proper Documentation: Inventors should ensure that their invention is appropriately documented, including drawings and diagrams, and keep all documentation in a secure location. Read about and download our invention intake form.
- Limiting Access to Invention Information: Inventors should limit access to their invention information and only share it with individuals who have signed a non-disclosure agreement.
- Utilizing Non-Disclosure Agreements: Inventors can use NDAs to protect their invention information when discussing it with third parties, such as potential investors or manufacturers. Read about and download NDAs (the linked article has three free samples available for download).
Inventor Tip: Invention confidentiality is important when seeking legal protection for your invention. When working with a USPTO registered patent attorney or patent agent, inventors can take steps to maintain confidentiality, such as discussing confidentiality with their attorney, ensuring proper documentation of their invention, limiting access to their invention information, and utilizing non-disclosure agreements. By taking these precautions, inventors can protect their valuable ideas and bring them to fruition with the help of a qualified legal professional.
For Invention Disclosures – Do I Need an NDA to Talk About My Invention?
You can talk in detail about your invention with a patent practitioner (either a patent agent or patent attorney) because your disclosure is protected by client controlled privilege. And, the bottom line is that you should consider a non disclosure agreement (NDA) to protect the privacy and confidentiality of information. If breaching confidentiality is a potential before you are ready you need to consider using a breach of confidentiality agreement or an NDA. Read more about what an NDA is. Note: there are three samples available in the article that can be freely downloaded and used as templates. (Our NDA templates are downloadable in *.docx format.)
At Carson Patents, we ensure the confidentiality of all of our patent services by doing all the prior art searching, patent application writing, patent application filing, and patent application prosecution in-house.
Inventor Tip: When looking for online patent application services to help protect your invention, be sure the person you choose is a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) registered patent attorney or patent agent. Only a patent attorney or patent agent can prosecute patents for you. (Lawyers are not qualified.) Expert online patent attorney help is available to work directly with you to seek patent protection for your invention. Get a free consult before you choose.
Using an NDA is Recommended for Patent Confidentiality
We recommend the use of an NDA when there is any possibility that your new invention could be stolen with the information you are going to share. If you are just sharing summary information that would not enable someone skilled in the art to make and use your creations then you might be okay, but confidentiality and the use of an NDA should be considered. Most people in the business are accustomed to using NDA’s. In fact, many will have them, and some will even offer them. If offered an NDA, be sure it is mutual (bi-lateral).
Note: At the patent office, newly filed applications are treated as confidential for about 18 months. After this initial period, patent applications are published by the USPTO. In other words, patent pending applications are not public for about a year and a half, but then applications are published. We can request that an application not be published. However, issued patents are made available to public by the USPTO. Communication with the Carson Patents team is confidential.