Is it common to use a Proprietary Rights Statement for Prototypes? If so, how is it presented?
That’s an intersting question. I’ve never thought of it before, but I suppose if you show a proprietary product in prototype form to the public without proper patent protection, you could be at risk.
You could label the prototype with a label of some sort, but the best thing to do is not show it to anyone outside the organization before you file some documentation that proves your ownership.
NDA for the modelmaker.
cant show a prototype in public. you can show it. like at a trade show. or to a buyer. but has to be a private showing. if in public, it has to be patented or you lose your rights.
I think Warrenginn and ykh have a good handle on this one.
Just to be safe, I wouldn’t show to anyone until some rights have been established (preferrably patent) don’t forget about provisional patents as a way to file with a year to finalize the patent request.
you will find alot of info on this subject. there is an option to file a provisional patent. it costs significantly less and it secures your idea and a date together while allowing furthur refining of design for the duration of one year.
otherwise you must have sufficient evidence that the idea has been in progress for longer than the opponent. sometimes someone will steal your idea if you are a smaller entity because you don’t have the resources to sue for proper rights to an idea or design.
you can also ask a local law school with a professor. if you are serious about your patent, ask the professor if he can assign a student to your project for class credit. this allows the someone with significantly more patent law knowledge than you to do your project correctly and efficiently.
i don’t think i have spoken to, or shown, a vendor, beta customer, consultant, basically anyone with the ability to speak, anything without an NDA signed, witnessed and copied. people talk and while an nda still won’t silence everyone, it makes them think twice before letting things slip.
the nda we use has gone through a number of iterations due to the companies we have dealt with. (bigger fish mean more legal loophole finding ability - motorola taught us a big lesson.)
a provisional patent is another worthwhile way to protect yourself but a patent really is only as good as your ability to back it up. (see big fish scenario.)
also, patents are double edged. yes they help to protect you but they not foolproof. generally, they are either too broad (hence minor design changes defeat the claims) or they are to well defined (meaning as little as changing the description of the idea in a minor way creates a new valid claim).
we file multiple patents that cover not just what we intend to use, but anything closely relating to the concept as a block. (i know, i am sick of killing creativity too so don’t arc up. it is not my choice.)
i know i use a fair amount of intuition, along with the above, to determine how much (if anything) i really want to disclose. an accountant won’t understand necessarily what they see in your design whereas an engineer/designer = i just had a brilliant idea.
when possible, spend a little time getting to know someone before you disclose all, even just a short 15 minute conversation (while they sign your nda). at least you will have a little understanding about their business practices/ethics.
my $.02+…bit of a rant i know…