Many people believe that filing for an invention on a patent provides blanket coverage against idea theft, but that isn't always the case. A patent does provide a lot of protection, but competitors often find ways to work around your claim by making slight changes, solving slightly different problems or claiming they made the invention before you. Here are three tips to strengthening your patent.
First, engage in plenty of research. If you have an idea, take a lot of time to make sure it's not already out there and patented in some way. Working with a patent attorney to ensure that your idea is different enough from existing patents and ideas to stand on its own. Getting a lawyer involved early also helps you document the invention process for further protection.
Build a prototype so you can flesh out all the issues and discover ways that other people might try to work around your patent. If you patent an invention before you build a prototype, someone else might come along and solve a problem caused by your invention before you even realize it was there. That means they might be able to file their own patent with a better product, even though your product was the jumping-off point.
Immerse yourself in the manufacturing process. Don't pass on your ideas and let someone else work out all the bugs. That opens the door for the other entity to become a co-inventor since they could argue that they had a lot to do with the process. Instead, learn about manufacturing and ask questions about processes so that you can be the one that solves the problems and makes any changes.
Source: Entrepreneur, "Create the Strongest Patent Possible With These 5 Tips," Stephen Key, accessed Dec. 30, 2016