Patent Application Deadlines - Should I Tell People About My Invention?

The following is a transcript of Episode 5 from the "Patenting for Inventors" Podcast.

In this episode I’m going to talk about something very important, and that is patent deadlines. As I talked about in the last two episodes, you cannot patent anything that was already known in the public. The exact patent rule says that you you cannot patent anything that was described in a printed publication or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before you filed your application.

If you tell your friends about your invention or you publicly present a prototype of your invention, or you write about your invention before you file your application, then it's possible that you might not be able to get a patent for it. So who should you talk with about your invention? Ideally, you shouldn’t talk to anyone about your invention unless that person has signed what is called a non-disclosure agreement, or you're talking with an attorney.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t tell your friends that you have a great idea for a new kind of avocado slicer, because avocado slicers already exist, so you’re not telling them anything that isn’t already in the public. But what you want to avoid doing is telling them any of the details about how your new avocado slicer works, because once you start telling them the details of how your avocado slicers works, you are putting your invention in the public. It’s ok to tell an attorney about your invention because attorneys are already under an ethical obligation not to divulge your invention to anyone, and can be disbarred if they do.

The people that you should have sign a non-disclosure agreement are people that will help get your invention going, such as a manufacturer, or someone who might want to license your product. You would al