Do I Need an NDA Before Sharing My Idea with a Patent Service Provider?
Do unlicensed patent service companies protect your invention? It’s become an increasingly common problem that inventors and entrepreneurs fall victim to the many non-licensed patent companies that are focused more on profits than protection of ideas and inventions. Non-licensed patent companies sell invention services, like filing patent applications, by persons that do not have a registered license to practice Intellectual Property with the USPTO. We’ve researched some of these organizations and want to share some of our findings that will help protect against unnecessary risks inventors may be taking when sharing their ideas with non-licensed patent companies.
The Importance of Signing Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
Non-disclosure Agreements, or NDAs, should be signed by the invention information receiver, not the invention information provider, unless there is a reason for a mutual NDA, then both parties sign. A statement on a Website for an entering consumer to agree they understand the patent company will not disclose does not suffice and is not an NDA. You will not be protected by clicking a checkbox. Startups, inventors, and entrepreneurs who are creating new products need to first protect themselves with an NDA signed by an individual or someone authorized to sign for the company that you are disclosing your invention to.
USPTO Licensed Patent Agents or Attorneys
It’s extremely important and advisable to work with a registered patent agent and be able to look up years of experience, industry-specific experience related to your invention or idea, and the success rates of issuing patents. You will be able to search the USPTO website to qualify any licensed patent agent or attorney by their registration number. Be aware of patent professionals who don’t provide their registration number on request. Attorneys and licensed patent agents are governed by strict ethics requirements of their state. Most unlicensed patent companies sell a patent application, then farm out the drafting job to a “supposedly” registered patent attorney or agent in a contractor network formed by the patent company. These companies commonly qualify your inventions by admin staff that have no idea what they are doing., especially when it comes to software based inventions. Inventors and entrepreneurs must anwer the question, “do unlicensed patent service companies protect your invention?”
Paying a Premium for Outsourced Patent Services
Many non-licensed patent companies who are not directly employing patent agents or attorneys claim to save upwards of 30-40%. In reality, it’s the inventor who pays the price for these types of outsourced patent protection and development business models. Ask the company if their developers are within the US and directly employed with them. If they choose to answer, most likely the answer will be no and they will be outsourcing their developers in India or China. Unfortunately, the inventor is the one who ends up paying the price for the markup on these types of outsourced services. These types of patent companies use a network of attorneys and developers which opens the door for more risk, privacy issues and ultimately it’s the inventors who pay the price for this in the end.
Domestic and International Patent Search
During the patent search process, it’s critical that the patent agent or attorney you are working with conducts an exhaustive search both within the US and internationally, including non patent literature such as websites and scholarly articles. Limiting your search to within the US and the USPTO website (http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html) will not protect you and your ideas and ensure patentability. An examiner at the USPTO can use anything within the public domain in any country to prevent the issuance of your patent.
Choose a Trusted and Qualified Patent Expert
Cynthia Lamon is a knowledgeable Patent Agent registered with the USPTO and has been helping local individuals and companies secure their inventions for over 20 years.. Cynthia’s expertise spans a wide range of industries and market segments from telecommunications, power and energy, computer/software, and even cannabis. Cynthia is a proven patent expert and is highly recommended among the patent community.
To get started on protecting your invention, please request your Patent Quote