REALLY need advise!

I just finished my senior year of school and at my senior show I was able to talk to several designers about my work. I now have received an email from one of them asking me to present my idea to their design team.

How should I go about handling this?
I first of all don’t know what the intent of the meeting is. Is it an interview, are they interesting in purchasing my idea, stealing my idea, or just intested in hearing about it for fun? What do you think? How can I ask them or find out what their intent is?

Also, I am really concerned about how to protect my ideas. I looked on the past posting and got a few ideas but I’m still pretty lost. I definetly don’t have the time or money for a patent, as they want to see my stuff fairly soon. What kind of contracts do I need to have them sign before presenting, if any? How can I make sure I won’t get ripped off.

What are some steps I should take to handle this. I’m really excited about it, but also very cautious. Thank you in advance for you help!

If your ideas aren’t NEW and NOVEL inventions (learn the difference between INVENTION and INNOVATION), then don’t bother squirreling around with patent issues.

Even if it just qualifies for a DESIGN (not inventive UTILITY) patent, its a joke, and anyone can circumvent it, if they are unscrupulous enough.

From the looks of it, it sounds like they just want you to come in to check out what you have to offer (and not lining up sucker students to steal ideas from because its that time of the year). Students tend to get TOO secretive and over zealous about their INCREDIBLE IDEAS. 99% of it, no one cares. I knew a few of those in my student days, secretive idiots hoarding their sketches, concepts, ideas, and finally revealing, UNVEILING it at presentation…AS IF. And it was crap. What a joke. Now most of them don’t even have jobs, and some work for struggling firms leaning towards graphic/package design to pay the lease. If a firm calls you in, they just want to check out your skills.

IF YOU IN FACT are in the .002% category and do have a novel, life changing invention, get a provisional patent, it costs $100 to file, it doesnt really protect you in any way except it holds it down for a year in which time you have to file for a real patent.

Otherwise, don’t friggin show them the ones you desperately think will make you millions of dollars. If you are good enough, your skills and talent will show through in other work, i.e. sketches and you ability to tell a good engaging story in justifying your process and thoughts.

have fun with it and stop standing on egg shells.

one more point…for those in your situation:

Having this HUGE idea that will be considered a milestone in the evolution of homo sapiens… BUT “i dont have the money” or dont want to invest the $10k minimum usually needed for a patent, go back to bed.

If you feel that strong about it, go scrape up $10-20k to get a patent. (this is when some of the noises and whining stop)

ANd take into consideration the 90 million patents that NEVER saw the light of day. and think about those “inventors” that own such patents. “oh, but IIIIIIII, me me me, have a strong feeling about this one” Yea, we all do about our ideas.

Shell out or go to bed.

Enough patent whinings! Just show your stupid works. You Einstein design gurus with billion dollar ideas.

BOY are you a positive one (Guest).
hey you answered your own question, just ask them what the intention of the meeting is. pretty simple actually. ask if this is an interview and if so that you will need to bring in more work and blah blah blah. just ask, nobody will mind, they may not be stealing your idea but it does happen, and (guest) it happens a lot! so as far as protecting yourself, take a copy of all your work that you are showing signed dated and sealed and send it to yourself in the US mail and then when you get it back put it in a safe. this is a very easy and cheap way to protect yourself.

The mailing your concept to yourself, is a good way for legal protection… If you plan on taking some to court and sueing them… If they allready have seen your concept at your senior show, if they wanted to steal, they are already would have…

A good designer has good ideas all the time… So to hedge your bets on one design…

Good luck, hopefully it lands you a job…

not 100%, but, we’ve all heard that old method of mailing stuff to yourself… I was told it’s not really a great way to protect your IP.

It’s more like a romantic urban myth. Put it in a bottle and toss it into the ocean on a gloomy day with a tear in your eye.

A bit of real world advice: IPR protection of whatever kind - patent, design registration, copyright - is worthless without the finances to sue someone for infringement. Let’s say you can manage to scrape together $10K - $20K for a patent, and then someone infringes it (and this may not mean they copied you, perhaps they had the same idea, independently, but you had it first). Your patent isn’t worth the paper it’s written on without $100K to take your case to court. Look at how many times James Dyson has had to resort to litigation to protect his IPR surrounding the cyclone cleaner. The bigger manufacturers were quite blatant in copying him, they just assumed he wouldn’t have the financial stamina to survive a long court case.

I agree with some of the comments that people are too precious about their ideas. Of course we all want to believe in the uniqueness of our work, but unless you’re working in a field that no-one else is interested in, chances are there are other people having similar thoughts. One company I work with regularly (a large consumer electronics group) refuses to meet inventors, designers, entrepreneurs etc, unless they can show beforehand that their idea has been patented. The reason being that, 95% of the time, the company is already developing the same idea, and they don’t want the bad publicity that would ensue if they were later accused of having stolen it.

In this specific case, my advice would be first to ask around in school - tutors and other students - if they know anything about the firm that approached you. The reputation’s of firms that rip off students usually spreads around a school like wildfire! Then be positive, if they’ve taken the time to get in contact and set up a meeting they are probably interested in you. After all, they could have just asked you to send your portfolio to them. And finally, what’s the worse that could happen? If they steal one of your ideas and it makes it to production you have the choice of trashing their reputation or having a good dinner party / job interview story of how your student work was so valuable someone stole it.

I think livin is right on the money. Even if they don’t want to steal your idea… What are you going to get out of this meeting? YOu time is worth money too. You could be looking for a job in that time instead of inspiring a bunch of designers for free.

Thanks for all the great advise! I talked to a few teachers about the company and they said it is a respectable company.

As far as being overly concerned about keeping my project super secretive, that is not at all the case. I never dreamed my senior project could actually make some money - something that all students desperately need right out of school - and now that it may actually be possible, I would prefer that my project make some money for me, and not just a company that borrows my idea.

I now have a meeting set up (and I’ll be signing a non-disclosure agreement). I’m really excited about such a great opportunity!

Matt - thanks for the uplifting advise. It helped put things into perspective.

Wish me luck!

Having this HUGE idea that will be considered a milestone in the evolution of homo sapiens… BUT “i dont have the money” or dont want to invest the $10k minimum usually needed for a patent, go back to bed.

If you feel that strong about it, go scrape up $10-20k to get a patent. (this is when some of the noises and whining stop)

f- that, just send in $70 and get a provisional patent. It will cover for a year, give the security you need to not feel you are going to be ripped off, and allow you to sound important in the statement “patent pending.”

smoke and mirrors!

also having it shown in public (as in the grad show) kind of messes up the whole confidentality thing.
And a lot of people, presumably, not only that designer already saw your idea, no?

They want to meet with you. and if you have nothing else to do and they don’t repulse you or smell bad, meet them, be polite, be yourself, you’ll gain contacts, perhaps a new job, perhaps a recomendation.

Let’s say you can manage to scrape together $10K - $20K for a patent, and then someone infringes it (and this may not mean they copied you, perhaps they had the same idea, independently, but you had it first). Your patent isn’t worth the paper it’s written on without $100K to take your case to court.

I totally agree, if someone wants to rip off your idea they are going to do it anyway patent or not. Unless your loaded, can get the patent and have the money to back up a lawsuit then don’t worry about it. Go to the meeting and see what happens.

moronic post.

also its $100 fee for a provisional.

Chances are- they are very interested in you!

If they wanted to steal your idea- they would have already done so.

They would have changed it just enough to avoid litigation- or not at all.
The burden of proof lies upon you- and chances are, they have enough resources to make winning a court battle an impossible proposition for most any newly graduated designer.

Once you show your idea publicly, unpatented, it is fair game anyway.
I used to work right next to a designer, a 30 year toy-industry veteran, who did mostly “invention” work. I watched him daily come up with ideas, and document them with presentation sketches and renderings. The firm where we worked was well known enough that when toy companies would make visits to our city, they would schedule a visit to our firm for a typical lunch and two-hour meeting.
Most of the time, my cohort would bundle up 4-5 ideas that he had been working on, and mail them out to big companies where he had connections. At that point in the process- or anytime that he showed ideas, there was an understood “gentleman’s” agreement. But nothing more concrete to guarantee him exclusive rights to his inventions.
He was never blatantly ripped off- but he took that chance everytime he showed. I guess that it’s just part of the game.