What can I do if someone stole my invention? 6 Answers as of October 04, 2013

What are the steps that can be taken as a result of theft of my invention and invention design and the placement of my invention on the internet by a neighbor and her associate?

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Gerald R. Black, Esq.
Gerald R. Black, Esq. | Gerald R. Black
There is no common law right to an invention. The only way to protect technology is either through trade secret protection or by filing and securing Patent rights. It seems from your question that you had what you believed to be an idea for an invention but there is no mention as to whether or not a Patent Application was ever filed. Also, it is unclear as to how your neighbor and her associate learned of your idea. Did you tell them? Was the disclosure made in confidence? If you disclosed the invention to your neighbor, that would make it more difficult to show that you regarded this as a trade secret. If you do have something in writing with your neighbor, this may be a breach of contract. Most people are unaware as to the proper way to protect their inventions. Consulting with Patent Counsel is strongly recommended, so that you can learn from this experience. I hope that this helps and good luck!
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/4/2013
Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
First you must be able to prove that the invention is yours. You need real evidence showing that you are the inventor. After that you will need a patent litigation attorney to assist you. The U.S. Patent Laws changed dramatically in 2012 so when this happened is important.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 10/4/2013
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
Your recourse is to sue them for patent infringement. Note that having an "invention" does not give you rights. You must actually have an issued patent that identifies the limitations of the invention. The patent office currently operates on a "First to File" basis and no longer the "First to Invent". You should contact a local patent attorney or agent and have a patent application prepared and filed.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/4/2013
Eminent IP, P.C.
Eminent IP, P.C. | Paul C. Oestreich
Your experience is a cautionary tale that others should take note of. You must take steps to keep your invention confidential, *e.g.*, using a nondisclosure agreement with third parties, etc., until you can file a patent application to protect your invention. It is not clear what you mean by the term "stole" from the facts you have provided. Clearly, ideas in your head cannot be stolen. So, we can assume that you disclosed the essence of your "invention" to your neighbor, for reasons that are also not clear. By disclosing your invention, to your neighbor, presumably without a nondisclosure agreement in place, there is little evidence to prove you were the true inventor or that you actually disclosed your invention to your neighbor and that they derived it from you. In any case, what you believe to be an "invention" might not be patentable in the first place. So, you also would be well-advised to obtain a novelty search and opinion of counsel for your invention to see if, in fact, it is patentable or if it is something that cannot be protected. If it is not patentable, nothing has been "stolen". Again, this step should be taken before publicly disclosing the invention to neighbors or anyone else in the public domain. As always, you should consult a patent attorney at the earliest possible time to determine how to best protect your invention and perhaps seek patent rights for it.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 10/4/2013
Webb IP Law Group
Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
Contact an attorney and talk with that attorney about your situation.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 10/4/2013
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