How can I protect my innovation?
Innovation is one of your company's mainstays. It is essential, but costly, because the costs often come before the benefits. Fortunately you have found a gap in the market with your latest innovation. Commercial success beckons, so you want to protect your Intellectual Property. After all, your competitors are always watching you. But how do you go about successfully protecting your innovation?
Establish the type of innovation
First of all it is important to establish what type of innovation is involved:
- Does your innovation solve a technical problem?
- Does your innovation stand out in terms of design?
- Does it involve a creative piece?
The answers to these questions determine what type of protection is applicable to your innovation.
Protecting your Intellectual Property
Does your innovation offer a technical solution to a problem? In that case applying for a patent is perhaps the best way to protect your Intellectual Property. It does not matter if it involves a physical product or a process. With a patent you will have the exclusive rights to your innovation for 20 years. In order to obtain a patent your innovation must meet the criteria of novelty, inventive step, and susceptibility of industrial application.
As the patent application itself also has to meet certain criteria it is best to leave the drawing up and submission of an application to a sworn patent attorney. He or she will ensure that you get the best possible protection for your innovation.
Please note: in exchange for the exclusive rights you acquire with a patent, your innovation will be made public. After publication your innovation will be added to the patent database and everyone will be able to see what your innovation entails. This can be a major drawback.
In some cases it is therefore better to keep it secret. Especially when it is impossible to tell from the end product what the innovation involves. This makes it harder for a competitor to copy your innovation. Processes are often easier to keep secret than physical products. Secrecy can nevertheless also be interesting for a physical product.
The advantage of secrecy is that, in principle, you are protected indefinitely and do not need to disclose anything. However you do run the risk of your secret being leaked or discovered by your competitor. On top of that there is always the possibility that someone else will make and apply a similar invention. If the latter does happen, there is usually nothing you can do about it. In consultation with a patent attorney you can find out what would be the best option for you.
If the design of your innovation is the distinctive element of your product, you may qualify for design protection. A design protection is valid for five years. You can renew it for a fee every five years up to a maximum period of 25 years. The most important criterion for design protection is 'novelty'. On top of that the design may not be technically determined.
Protecting your innovation by means of a design is a specialist task which is best left to a patent attorney. Patent attorneys know exactly what kind of criteria an application has to meet and how to provide maximum protection for your innovation.
Protection of a creative work
There are other forms of Intellectual Property rights as well. Most of these are focused on protecting a creative work, such as the writing of a book, the composition of a song or the creation of a company logo. In that case we talk of copyright law, trademark law and trade name law. Unfortunately we cannot help you obtain these forms of Intellectual Property rights ourselves, but we can refer you to a specialist in this field.