Steps You Need to Take to Safeguard Your Scientific Discovery
If you are engaged in research and have made important discoveries in your field, you probably want to keep it safe. Protecting scientific work and progress falls under the category of intellectual property or IP. Getting the protections offered by international and domestic IP laws, there are some things you need to do.
Talk to a professional. A lot of scientists and inventors think that they can get away with tackling the process on their own and that they do not need a lawyer on their side. The problem here, whether you have all of your ideas locked away in scientific notebooks or someplace else, the process to get IP protection is long and complicated.
Many people think that getting a patent for a breakthrough or new test or vaccine takes little more than applying with the idea and getting the protection. That is not true. The patent application needs to thoroughly describe what the new invention does, how it is different from what else is out there, and what ways it will be used. This is an area where rookie mistakes can really hurt you in the long run but you can avoid that if you start with an experienced IP attorney by your side.
Learn more about your rights. Most people involved in scientific research have heard of patent protection but may not be familiar with what rights getting one provides. In a nutshell, a new invention gets certain protections when it gains a patent but there are limitations to this. Scientific theories cannot be patented but processes can. For example, Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity never belonged to him. The processes to replicate something such as DNA can be because that is more specific.
There are also different levels of protection. A patent will cover the invention. A registered design patent does something different. With that, the look of the invention is protected but what it does is not. A trademark is just as limited, this is protection for a name, brand, and logo. A copyright will give protection to the way an idea is described but not what the idea is. The complexity of the process comes a bit from these distinctions. To many, these look like distinctions without differences but knowing what they all mean can make a big difference in finding the right protection for the work you have done.
Have a plan for your invention or new product. If you get the protection you need, you should have a plan for what you want to do with it. There are different reasons to get this kind of protection. Maybe you want to protect your scientific discovery from being pirated or copied. Perhaps you want to sell the new product or process. Another reason companies look for patents is protection against lawsuits. It is important to point out that having the IP protection you need will prevent other people from using what you have invented but it does nothing else.
You may find it harder to get investors without a patent. A lot of scientific discoveries need a patent or other IP protection to move forward. By having this kind of protection, you increase the chances that you will be able to move forward and do what you want to with your work. There are s number of people out there who assume that if they simply publish their great discovery, someone will read it, take the ball, and then run with it. That is very unlikely to happen. If your creation can help the world and that is what you want, you have to work to make sure something happens. This is not a spectator sport.
Find the right name. When you are working in your research lab and perfecting your new process or product, you may not be thinking about the name but it is important. When you pick a name, get it registered right away to keep anyone else from using it.
There are a lot of good reasons to apply for IP protection for something you have worked hard to create. The process may not be as simple or straightforward but is worth the time, money and energy in the long run.