What if I told someone about my innovation? Is it too late to protect it?

“Loose lips sink ships.” My general advice is to keep your innovation secret (e.g., within your company) until you file for patent protection. If you do publicly disclose it before filing for patent protection, you still may have hope. If you file within one year in the US, you may preserve rights in the US. Outside of the US, you generally are out of luck after you publicly disclose the invention. Some countries, however, will give you a grace period like in the US if you file directly in their patent office within a certain period of time of the public disclosure. I was surprised to see how many countries let you do that (e.g., Japan).  Despite these backup positions, file first! As a default, before publicly disclosing any new technology, check to see if it needs to be protected.


Steven Saunders is an Intellectual Property Attorney at the Boston-based law firm, Nutter. Steven can be reached at ssaunders@nutter.com.

For more information about Steven, See Steven’s Martin Trust Center Biography at: https://entrepreneurship.mit.edu/profile/steven-saunders/

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