Initial Idea Protection
The "First-to-Invent" Patent System and How to Keep Your Inventors Log Book or Inventing Journal
By Stephen Paul Gnass
Keeping an "Inventors Log Book" is a very inexpensive process, YET POSSIBLY YOUR MOST VALUABLE TOOL IN THE PROTECTION OF YOUR NEW IDEA.
Why? Because the patent system in the United States rewards the "first person" that invents a new product. Therefore, even if somebody else files a patent on the same idea before you do, if you can prove that you were the first person that invented the product and you have the proper records of your ongoing work, the patent would be awarded to you. The key is that you have to prove that you conceived and invented the product first.
Therefore as soon as the "lightning" strikes, begin a daily journal, diary-style, to keep track of your idea(s). This will help you establish a date of "conception". If two inventors have been developing the same idea, or if someone tries to take your idea, it will be the one who has the most dated and detailed notes and sketches who will almost always win the legal battle.
To do this, you need dated records showing any and all corrections and revisions; receipts for purchases of any materials used to make sample prototypes; records of visits with patent attorneys or other professionals, etc. And that's where the "log book" comes in. There's a special way to do this. Make sure your idea is well documented by following these easy guidelines.TYPE OF NOTEBOOK TO USE FOR YOUR INVENTORS LOG BOOK:
You will need a stitched or bound notebook. "Official" invention log books cost between $10-30 because they're hard-bound, larger, and include pre-printed numbered pages with specially designed grids and lines for your notations and required signatures. They're the easiest to use, however, if you're on a budget, you can purchase a "Mead Composition"-type notebook which costs under $5 and is available at most office supply stores. If you have an Office Depot or Staples office supply store near you, they usually sell a pack of two or three for under $4.00! If you purchase one of these types of notebooks, be sure to immediately number all of the pages, on both the fronts and backs of each page.
An accountant's record keeping-type book can also be used and are available at office supply stores or even drug stores like Thrifty. Remember that the purpose of the log book is to have a chronological record of all your work related to your invention. A stitched or bound notebook makes it impossible to tear out or add a page without detection, and is therefore the only type of notebook that will work in court. Therefore, spiral notebooks will not work. 3-ring binders with loose leaf sheets will not work either, nor tablets that are glued together (for example, legal pads).
TIP: If you have more than one idea that you will be working on simultaneously, we recommend that you use one log book per idea.