The quickest way to lose your invention

The protection of inventions is primarily by using patent applications and hopefully then getting a granted and enforceable patent. However, there are 3 key tests for whether something, the invention, may be patentable:



So, the easiest and most common way you lose your invention is that, before applying for a patent, you make it public. If you stroll down the street showing the world your new invention, that is it, it is no longer novel.


The rule is simple, after developing your invention out of the public eye, you need to file a patent application for it. Once filed you are in a position to disclose it, to the extent that it is disclosed in the application, without falling foul of the bar to patentability of lack of novelty.


What! is it this simple? What happens if it was only disclosed a little bit? What happens if you have disclosed to friends? There is plenty of complex case law about this, for example, the UK High Court case of Emson v Hozelock. In which, the inventor tested his invention, of a self-expanding garden hose, in his garden, which his wife filmed, and subsequently had to protect his invention against several infringing patents that were deemed to have copied his invention, but who argued that his prototypes, could be easily seen from the street. In this case the inventor managed to protect his invention despite making it public, but only after a long and difficult court case. There is a further, less fortunate, case Claydon v Mzuri where a farmer tested a new piece of equipment in a field and that it could, not necessarily was seen from a public footpath meant that it was determined that this was a novelty destroying disclosure.