A unique idea, product, or service is born after much hard work. Hence, it becomes the creator's responsibility to protect their creativity and hard work at all times. For starters, they should always push towards working with companies that openly embrace independent product developers. One of the safest ways through which they can protect their ideas is by patenting them.

Here are ways through which one can ensure that their ideas remain theirs forever :

1) Keep looking for Warning Signs

Before submitting your hard work, make sure that you intensively investigate any potential licensees. The procedure is very simple, all you have to do is to Google the name of the company that you're in talks with the keywords 'complaints' and 'lawsuits.' Scout for any warning signs/red flags. Keep seeking out referrals. Don't worry, there will be numerous companies that will want to partner with you and extend you a fair treatment. Such companies will be easier to join hands with, especially when it comes to the part of contract negotiations.

So, what are the warning signs that you need to look for? For example, if a company says that it only considers looking at patented ideas, then it is quite clear that it hasn't actually embraced open innovation. Further, nowadays, a number of companies are accepting online submission of forms so as to systematically manage the numerous ideas they've received. Whenever you're requested to sign documents, do a thorough reading of it or let a lawyer look over it, if you find the legal language difficult to understand. When a company claims it's open to ideas, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're genuinely okay with independent product developers. There have been several cases in the past where certain companies had cleverly gotten people to sign documents where they had to give up all legal rights over their idea.

2) File a Provisional Patent Application

Filing a provisional patent application can quickly help you in protecting your unique idea/invention. When you file a provisional patent in India, you give yourself a 12 months’ time to decide if the idea is worth your time and money, and should you take the provisional patent application forward. It is always considered advisable to file a provisional patent application before disclosing one's unique, original ideas to any third party.

In order to file a provisional patent application with up to 30 pages, the government fee applicable is INR 1,600 for individuals, INR 4,000 for small entity applicants and INR 8,000 for large entity applicants.

While filing for provisional patent, you need to make sure that each provisional specification filed should include as much information the applicant has at the time of filing of the patent as according to the rules, new matter cannot be added by the applicant at a later stage.

3) Test the Waters Before Making the Final Jump

Once the provisional patent is in place, start testing if the market is really interested in your idea and if it has any future. Invest the 12 months allotted to you, courtesy the provisional patent, very carefully and test the markets reaction towards your idea. If it's not that positive, then it will be your call if you still wish to go forward and invest more time in developing your idea or abandon it then and there.

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