A knowledge based/expert system site to assist those with ideas to take the first steps towards securing their intellectual property.
This concept is not intended to replace the conventional process of successfully securing intellectual property (IP) but it can be complementary by assisting to draw together some of the necessary elements.
IP FastStart cover diagram
The European Patent Office describes 7 types of IP - 5 formal and 2 informal being: confidential information; know-how; copyright, unregistered design rights (UDR), registered designs, trademarks and patents.
Confidential information can be protected in the short term by Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) whereas know-how is very difficult to protect and may need to be incorporated in a patent.
Copyright is granted automatically, is free and the most common protection applying to computer prugrams. However, this can pose potential problems when it comes to avoiding infringing the copyright of others.
UDRs arise automatically too when the necessary conditions are satisfied, are also free and pose similar challenges as copyright. In addition because they are unregistered proof of ownership is sometimes difficult.
Design registration can be a relatively inexpensive and quick way to protect the outward appearance and sometimes internal layout of a work or device, but has little to do with its purpose or action.
Trademarks are uniquely identifiable ways of distinguishing your product or business from others and usually take the form of words or pictures. Although registerable they protect the use of the words or pictures when associated with ideas, products or business but they do not protect the ideas or product themselves.
Patents constitute the strongest and most costly way of protecting ideas and products.
In principle securing a patent appears deceptively simple:
1. Search for existing patents (hopefully there are none or you have something sufficiently different).
2. Prepare a claim for patent that describes your idea and in what way it can be regarded as different from anything preceding it.
3. Lodge the claim with the appropriate authorities and pay the necessary fees.
4. Follow-up, revise and maintain the application.
In practice it can be extremely complex.
IP is often geographic - that is they usually apply separately to each country or region - so if you want a world-wide patent, design registration or trademark there can be lot of work involved.
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) play a very important part in protecting IP but, although essential at many stages in the process of developing an idea, they are NOT sufficient protection. The
America Invents Act (2011) in USA only provides protection to first claimant to file, which in some cases extinguishes rebuttal of claim on the basis of "prior art".
Two possible practical effects of this are:
a) even if you can show you had the idea first, if you failed to file a claim then someone else may be able to successfully patent ahead of you; and
b) the change favours those with the capacity to quickly and easily file claims.
Whilst non-disclosure is inherent in the relationship between inventor and IP professionals it is NOT in the relationships with programmers, designers, accountants and potential investors: to this end the following advice is worth taking.:
"Your main problem is likely to be persuading other people to sign your NDA.,,
...train yourself to communicate the business benefits of your idea without disclosing its novel aspects.)"
hhhhHow can a website like this help?
The website would be a knowledge based or expert system providing not only the steps involved for each type of IP, but also templates and other documentation to support securing that IP. Also making a resource that builds to include a large range of jurisdictions can, I believe be potentially useful.
Intelligent Legal Flowchart is an excellent basis for such an expert system.- so this concept becomes a subset of the broader system represented by his concept.
How will your concept support web entrepreneurship?
All businesses have intellectual property of some kind or other.
If the property is covered exclusively by copyright then only limited additional protection may be needed however many web entrepreneurs will have intellectual property beyond this that has potential commercial value and warrants protection.
Although providing protection does not guarantee commercial success failure to protect may result in commercial failure.
What kinds of resources will be needed to get this concept off the ground and scale it?
Considerable resources would be required for a comprehensive resource however with a suitable collaborative platform it could be crowdsourced from those with suitable expertise. Designers and developers would be required for the framework while legal experts could provide the contant.
How could we get started?
In conjunction with James Moyer's Intelligent Legal Website we could begin to collaboratively prototype a series of connected flowcharts utilising the current beta online flowcharting resource http://www.flowchart.com
just to start with