Now that I have my patent, design, trade-mark or copyright, what do I do?

"Got an idea?"

Once you have a patent, design, trade-mark, or copyright you are free to use it, to sell it, or to licence it to others with the provision that if your patent or design is a variation of another person’s patent or design you first must make arrangements with such other person,
or if your copyright includes or modifies material of others, again you must make arrangements with other people.

It is now up to you, not the government or anyone else, to try and interest others in your efforts, and/or protect your work from or prevent unlawful use.

(A) Getting Somebody Interested in the Idea

It has been said that a successful idea is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Even when you have a patent or other protection, there remains the large task of getting the product, process or machine, to market. In rare cases some person may find out about your patent and approach you, but do not count on it. It is more usual that you must now become not only an inventor, but also an entrepreneur of your ideas.

The cost of filing a patent application itself may make some people consider trying to sell their idea so that someone else will pay the costs. At an early stage, any disclosure of your idea before filing an application, should be made carefully and in confidence.

Some people have their own funds or access to funds that will enable them to market the idea themselves. At this point a lawyer and an accountant could be useful in preparing agreements and setting out the necessary financial planning.

Others may wish to approach persons or companies who are already in the business to see if an arrangement could be made. Obviously, you will want to be careful as to what is disclosed to other people. (A granted patent, a published patent application or registered design may be disclosed as it is already public.) Where the idea is the subject of an unpublished application only, it should be disclosed “in confidence”. Many organizations have their own form of agreement to protect themselves since they may also be working on or know about the same or similar idea already. You should review all agreements with your lawyer before agreeing to terms and always keep notes of what is said or revealed to such organizations.

There are organizations which will evaluate your idea from a marketing viewpoint and may
even assist in trying to find interested people or investors. Several of these are reputable
such as those affiliated with reputable universities. Others, however, should be treated
with extreme caution and should be discussed with your lawyer before you enter into any agreements with them.

When you find somebody interested in your idea you may want to consider a sale or licence agreement. Again, these matters should be reviewed by your lawyer or agent before you
commit yourself.

(B) Preservation of the Patent, Design, Trade-mark, or Copyright Registrations

If you believe that someone else is unlawfully using your idea, remedies lie in a Court action initiated and paid for by you. Any contemplated Court action should be discussed with your lawyer. If you are successful in such an action you will stop the unlawful use and, if the unlawful user has any money to pay, you may recover damages or the unlawful profits made by such person using the idea, together with some of your legal expenses in the Court action. Any Court action should be carefully considered, as it will be expensive and will take time.