Initial Idea Protection
The "First-to-Invent" Patent System and How to Keep Your Inventors Log Book
By Stephen Paul Gnass
IMPORTANT DUE-DILIGENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR INVENTION: In order to be granted a patent, an invention must be worked on continuously and persistently. This is known as the requirement of "diligence in completing the invention" or "reduction to practice" under the U.S. patent laws. If you stop working on your invention for several months or in some cases even weeks without any progress, you may jeopardize your rights to obtain a patent.
After you have completed your action steps, answer the following question in your log book: 1) What action did I take since my last entry? Remember to be very detailed by also answering "When did I do it, where did I do it, why did I do it, who did I do it with? and list any results. Then go back to the "future action steps" questions listed above. It's a continual process of planning, taking action, following up and then repeating the process.SOME RULES TO FOLLOW FOR YOUR INVENTORS LOG BOOK:
You might be tempted to use a pencil so that you can erase and make corrections, but because the purpose of the log book is for proof that the ideas are originally yours, be sure to use ink that can't be erased and modified by anyone.
For this same reason, you're not supposed to cross out any mistakes. In the case of drawings, we recommend that you practice on scratch paper and transfer the corrected versions of sketches or drawings to the log book - making detailed notations about what's different from the previous drawing. Be sure not to rip out or add any pages.
It is probably best to start every new entry on a new page in order to make it neater and easier to find your entries later. Therefore if your entry ends in the middle of a page, draw a large "X" on any empty spaces or blank pages, and start your next entry on the next page.
Be sure to always draw a large "X" on any empty spaces or blank pages.WITNESSES FOR YOUR INVENTORS LOB BOOK:
At the end of each entry, sign and date the page. Also write in the following short paragraph: "I have witnessed and understand this idea. I agree to keep this disclosure confidential" and have two unrelated "witnesses" (who are not involved in the development of your invention) print their names, sign and date it (official log books have this paragraph pre-printed on every page).NOTARIZE YOUR LOG BOOK ENTRY:
Then, have the entry "notarized". Find a notary public near you by looking in the phone book under the category of "Notary Public". These individuals serve as legal witnesses who will provide you with a special seal as evidence that they witnessed your documentation on the specific date. They will also keep a record on file. The price of each notarization may range from $10-20. You might check whether your bank still provides this service. Most banks used to have a public notary on hand as a convenience to their customers, but over the past decade many have eliminated this service.
For economical reasons, you may want to notarize several entries in your log book all at once approximately every three to four weeks, instead of after every single entry. This will help you keep your costs down, and will also be less time consuming.
Naturally, if you have specific questions on the legal aspects of any steps of this process, it may be wise to directly consult with a patent attorney for proper legal advice.