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Disclosure Requirements

Consequences of Disclosure

In some cases, public disclosure of your invention can result in you losing the ability to obtain a patent.  Such a loss can give others the right to make and sell your invention without your approval.  As a result, you should contact us before you disclose your invention to anyone to the inadvertent loss of your rights.

Types of Disclosure

Not all disclosure is created equal.  U.S. Patent law is primarily concerned with public disclosure.  Private disclosure, such as to an investor, is generally permissible as long as it is properly planned.  On the other hand, public disclosure – such as through written materials, advertisements, or offers for sale of your product to the public – typically affect your ability to patent your invention, as discussed briefly below.  The safest course is to contact us before you make any type of disclosure so that we can help you develop a patentability strategy and provide you with confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements to help protect your rights.

U.S. Disclosure Rules

Federal statute states that an invention cannot be patented if any of the following occurs:

  • The invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent
  • The invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States
  • The invention was first patented or caused to be patented, or was the subject of an inventor’s certificate, by the applicant or his legal representatives or assigns in a foreign country prior to the date of the application for patent in this country on an application for patent or inventor’s certificate filed more than twelve months before the filing of the application in the United States

International Disclosure Rules

Each country has its own patent laws and rules which govern whether a patent can be obtained in a given country.  As a general proposition, most other countries do not allow a person to receive a patent if there has been any public disclosure of their invention prior to filing a patent application.  While the U.S. provides leeway in some cases to file a patent application within a year of disclosure, other countries do not.  For this reason, if you have any desire to market your invention in other countries, you should contact us today and we will help you prevent loss of your patent rights here and around the world.