Two of the most important requirements of patentability are that the invention must be novel and non-obvious at the filing date of the patent application. In the United States, the prior sale, prior use or public disclosure of the invention by the inventor or others may affect your ability to obtain a valid patent. Inventors may inadvertently jeopardize their ability to successfully apply for or be granted a patent by disclosing any information about the invention to the public, and thus, may fail to meet the requirement of novelty and/or non-obviousness.
Additionally, when you disclose an idea to the public, you risk waiving related trade secret as well as patent rights. Trade secrets are only enforceable when you have taken steps to ensure they are—and will remain—secret. Although an inventor has up to one year from a public disclosure to file a patent application in the U.S., it is strongly advised that an inventor first take precautions to protect all IP, or risk losing all IP rights. In the new U.S. first-inventor-to-file system, it is even more important to be savvy about disclosure – or you risk that another inventor could file a patent application before you.
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