Keeping A Secret
A great idea is only the beginning. Now you have to find ways to protect it.
Q: As the owner of an automotive company, I invented
mechanical devices and created improvements to enhance race car
performance--many of which are now commonly used in the industry
(none were patented). Though I'm now retired, I continue to
create inventions in a variety of product categories. What steps
should I take to find out if any are marketable? Should I see a
patent attorney? I'm looking for legitimate channels to get a
concept to market.
A: Ted De Boer is founder and president of Inventors
Assistance League International Inc. (IAL) in Glendale, California,
and a patent attorney:
You're not alone; most inventors don't know where to go for help. They rush to a patent attorney, unaware of the other methods available to them for protection. They prematurely disclose the secret of their invention. Or worse, they forfeit their idea and their savings to unscrupulous operators. All this without an inkling of whether the idea had any commercial value in the first place.