When an innovative product is made or a new type of service developed, the inventor deserves all credit. Patents ensure that an invention is protected against other people making products which work the same way. To obtain valid and enforceable patent protection, the inventor must not have shown or marketed the product or service to the public.

Sometimes developers need to show their inventions to a future investor or client before it is ready to be patented. If this is something which needs to take place, it is essential that a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is obtained first. Without this agreement, there is nothing to stop your invention being copied.

Years ago, I had a client who showed their innovative process to a large government organisation, in the hopes of securing a supply contract with that organisation. Unfortunately, my client was naïve, and did not have an NDA in place. The government organisation decided not to work with my client, but two months later my client became aware that the government organisation had replicated her innovative processes within their organisation. She asked me what she could do to stop them. Because she had no patent, and no NDA in place, she was not able to stop them from using the innovative processes that she had developed.

The government department had been very careful not to copy any of the documentation that my client had provided to it, so therefore they had not infringed her copyright (which is a right that exists automatically when new documentation is created, which itself is not a copy of something else).

If you are unsure if your innovation can be patented, contact a patent attorney. It is important to note that lawyers cannot file patents. In order to get a patent, your invention does not need to be remarkable. In my experience, our clients underestimate the value of their creativity. 

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  • Cathryn Warburton is the Legal Lioness. Finding the courage to overcome severe bullying as a child instilled in her a passion to protect others. As a skilled litigator, she indulges in her dream to push-back against business-bullies who target her clients. She is an international award-winning lawyer and patent attorney and 4-time published author. Cathryn bullet-proofs her client’s businesses and gets them out of legal hot water. She champions the goal that no business is left without access to affordable, easy-to-understand legal information. She does this through her books, legal workshops and 1-2-1 legal services.

  •  Please note that this blog is provided for general informational purposes only. Each legal situation differs. Reading this blog cannot replace obtaining specific legal advice. We recommend that you obtain legal advice for your specific situation.