Keep Your Ideas Secret

With regard to confidentiality, one must understand that there’s no right to stop someone from copying your invention until your patent actually issues. Even after you file your patent application, even after the application is published by the patent office, you still cannot enforce it. And we give this advice to people.

We can’t tell them what they must do, but we tell them about the dangers of informing other people, of showing it to the public, of putting it on the internet, of selling it before they have patent protection. And it can be quite dangerous. NDAs are one way to go about it, separate from a patent, but an NDA is a contract.

And there are people that will respect the contract and people that just won’t respect the contract. So you can have an NDA with someone, but more important than that, whether you have the NDA or not, is to know the people you’re dealing with. And the most conservative way is to keep your idea secret at least until the patent application is published, which is 18 months after filing.