Tue 13th Jul 2021

Shhhhhh - protect your ideas with the Golden Rule

Congratulations! You have come up with THE BIG IDEA. You think you know how to solve a problem in a way that people are likely to pay for. It could be life changing, it is so exciting!!

It might be tempting to call all your mates and announce that you have this innovative concept and test it out on them.  Maybe speak to a professor or two or start talking to your accountant?  Can they introduce you to an investor?


According to Tom Woodhouse, a patent attorney who specialises in protecting the intellectual property in software and AI, “Once information starts leaking out into the public domain, you are putting the value of your invention at risk.  You are breaking the Golden Rule”.


The Golden Rule of IP Protection


The Golden Rule - speak to a patent attorney to see if your idea is patentable BEFORE you discuss it with anyone outside of your company.


Anything which you tell us is in the strictest confidence, and is protected by our professional code of conduct.


Are you leaking valuable intellectual property?

Unfortunately, we see to many software engineers ruin their chances of obtaining a patent by leaking information in one or more of the following ways:

  • Publishing
  • Exhibiting at an event
  • Releasing a prototype to test the user interface
  • Opening up the API to potential customers for feedback
  • Informal chat or formal pitches with potential partners or investors



Why is this a problem?

The moment the idea enters the public domain, in any way, shape or form, it is no longer new.  The idea must be new on the day you file your patent application – if not and the idea has already entered the public domain by the time you file your patent application, it will be too late. 


If someone else has the same idea, and applies for patent protection, the idea stops being new when their patent application is published.  But there any numerous other ways the idea can enter the public domain – blogs, academic papers, videos, social media, presentations or even conversations that are not in confidence.  You can destroy the novelty of your own idea by putting it into the public domain yourself. 


Remember the Golden Rule….


The Golden Rule - speak to a patent attorney to see if your idea is patentable BEFORE you discuss it with anyone outside of your company.

But doesn’t it cost money to speak to a patent attorney?

We are always happy to have an initial conversation with an inventor to help them to assess whether they may have a patentable idea.


Free initial consultation for inventors

We offer a free initial consultation, so you have nothing to lose.


Click here to request a consultation.


During the consultation, we can discuss your objectives and the approach that we would take to protecting the intellectual property in your business.


We can provide an initial view of the likelihood that these could be protectable, both in the UK and abroad. We can also provide an outline of the costs and procedures required to obtain protection, and we will suggest the next steps that need to be taken.



This briefing is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. We can discuss specific issues and facts on an individual basis. Please note that the law may have changed since the day this was first published in July 2021. 



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