patent dos & don'ts



  • Maintain an inventor's log book, periodically utilizing dates and obtaining witness signatures.
  • If interested in foreign patent rights, always file a U.S. patent application before disclosing the invention to the public.
  • Public disclosure of an invention includes such things as publishing articles about the invention, exhibiting the invention at a trade show, and offering to sell the invention.
  • If a public disclosure or an offer for sale has been made, you must file a patent application within one year of the date of disclosure or offer for sale.



  • Do not discuss an invention with an outside party without first having a confidentiality agreement in place with the outside party.
  • Do not make public and invention before considering whether it should be patented. If an invention is made public before a U.S. patent application is filed, foreign patent protection may be lost.
  • Remember, when working with independent contractors and suppliers, to obtain signed agreements with them that any patent rights flowing from their work with you will be owned by your company.
  • Do not forget that you have only one year from the date of first public disclosure or offer for sale of an invention in which to file a U.S. patent application. Furthermore, if interested in foreign patent rights, the U.S. patent application should be filed before public disclosure of the invention.
  • Do not assume that because your invention is a "minor" improvement over the prior art technology that it is not valuable and that it cannot be patented. Frequently, minor improvements are both patentable and valuable.