Patents

Do I need to keep my idea confidential?

Yes, at least until you have filed a patent application to protect it.

This is because one of the requirements to get a patent is that the invention is new. Most countries have a requirement for ‘absolute novelty’ which means that the invention must be new in the light of all information that has been made available to the public, anywhere in the world, before the effective filing date of the patent application. Prior non-confidential disclosure of details of an invention will therefore invalidate any patent granted on a subsequently filed patent application.

Some countries (notably the US) have a ‘grace period’ which allows valid patent protection to be obtained for an invention which has already been non-confidentially disclosed, provided that a patent application is filed within the grace period (12 months in the US).

In most cases, a patent application will not be published for around 18 months after its date of filing, so there may be further value in keeping the idea confidential even after the patent application has been filed.

Wilson Gunn can advise on all aspects of intellectual property protection. Please get in touch to speak to a member of our team about patent protection.