Intellectual property refers to an intangible concept such as a business or creative idea, the ownership of which cannot be easily ascribed to any particular individual, unless that person takes the step of protecting and registering the idea or thought as his/her own. Protecting intellectual capital is crucial because it is easy for anyone to claim the idea as their own and in the absence of adequate protection, your idea can end up being used by others for significant financial advantage. Having your original idea taken over or usurped by other individuals nullifies all the hard work and conceptualizing you've done, and can lead to future complicated problems. Listed below are some methods by which you can protect your intellectual property and not lose out on its benefits.
Having an original idea and testing it. Before you take legal steps to get your idea protected, there are some basic tests which the idea should pass through, proving its provenance and originality. First, only a concrete and practical application of the idea, not the idea itself, is eligible for protection. You must take care to ensure that a similar idea exists nowhere else in whatever form, and the application of that idea should be workable, tested in the proper environment in which it is designed to function and most importantly, it must be unique and not found anywhere else.
Applying for a patent. Under US laws, a patent protects the owner from other people exercising their rights over the product or application, providing only the patent owner with the rights to make, sell, offer or use the product or invention with full authority. Getting a patent registered is a time-consuming and expensive process. On an average, it takes more than two years for the full registration of the patent, from the time you make your application and the cost will vary depending on how simple or complex the idea is.
Hire a qualified attorney. Patent applications with the accompanying formalities until formal registration is done, are best delegated to a qualified and experienced patent attorney who will be able to prepare the patent application with the best possible technical language, avoiding generalities and ensuring that every step of the process is legally complied with and completed.
Maintaining paperwork. From the point of conception, you will need to keep careful records of how you came up with an idea, all the relevant details design creation and testing involved, including talks or discussions you may have had with third parties and your lawyer. It is important not to miss out on even a single scrap of information, as it will establish the authenticity and trace the development from concept to product and/or application.
Once you are able to show a clean track between getting an idea and implementing it, you will find that getting a patent approval to protect your intellectual property actually becomes simpler and more effective. Make sure you always take the appropriate legal and business advice and make it clear to all concerned parties as to the origination and ownership of your idea.