Zoltán Gyenge
Topics: Patent Law Subscribe

Have you publicly mentioned your invention before filing for a patent?

First published 10 July 2024 by Zoltán Gyenge

By now, hopefully everyone is aware that one should publicly «disclose» their invention only AFTER having applied for a patent.
So far for the theory. In practice, there are several, some valid, some less valid reasons why someone would publicly present their invention without applying for a patent first:

  1. Unawareness of the absolute novelty requirement*
  2. Underestimating the invention’s value. It is quite common that one realizes the true value of an idea only upon the idea being positively received.
  3. Timing constraints

Having witnessed on several occasions inventors sadly mentioning its too late to apply for a patent following a very successful, yet public presentation, I would like to raise awareness that all may not be lost:

  • If the idea was presented in general terms, only as a problem statement that the idea addresses, or as a black-box sort of demonstration, where the internal workings (of a device, algorithm, etc.) are hidden, there are good chances the public disclosure was non-enabling and hence does not prevent patentability.
  • Even if the public disclosure was detailed and specific enough to be considered enabling, the invention is still patentable in several jurisdictions (including Japan and USA)**, if it was the inventor who made the invention public. However, it is important to note that there are strict time limits as to how patenting inventions previously disclosed by their inventor is possible, referred to as grace period, ranging between 6 and 12 months.

Relevant for major markets such as the USA, Germany, and Japan: If you've recently presented or published your invention, contact your patent attorney Zoltán Gyenge at your trusted IP law firm RENTSCH PARTNER AG to advise you on patenting post-disclosure.

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