15 Oct Are Kickstarter Ideas Protected?
Kickstarter being a public disclosure organization means that project creators are obliged to file for patent protection in advance of launching the campaign. So no, Kickstarter itself does not offer idea protection.
And if your organization is still under ‘patent pending’ status, no one can stop others from copying you. Do know that there are always predators lurking around and on crowdfunding websites disguised as backers to search and rob unprotected ideas.
Therefore, if possible, try filing your patent well in advance of launching your Kickstarter campaign. If you’d like to try out Kickstarter crowdfunding for your innovative product without a patent, here’s what you should be doing.
File a Patent 12 Months in Advance of a Public Campaign
Patent laws may differ from country to country.
If you’re in the US, however, you must file a patent application within 12 months of going public. Therefore, the best practice is to file your patent as soon as you can before launching your Kickstarter campaign, because crowdfunding is public disclosure of your innovation.
You don’t want knock-offs of your product being made even before your product is put into production.
Anyone Can File a Patent on Your Product if You Don’t File it First
Yep. The U.S is a “First to File,” system which means if you don’t file your patent first, someone else is going to do it without even having to give substantial proof.
Of course, you can always fight it, but that’s an expensive legal battle that you would want to avoid at all costs.
So before you declare a public crowdfunding campaign, file your patent!
Filing a Patent-Pending Application
This is the hard part actually.
Most crowdfunding campaigners do not have the money to file a patent application. That’s because a patent can cost anywhere from $900 to $10,000 depending on the complexity of the product and legal fees of the lawyer. In this case, you can instead file a provisional patent application which will protect you for a year while you’re raising funds.
Do make sure to mention (patent-pending) in your Kickstarter campaign page.
Never Disclose the Actual Invention
A Kickstarter campaign simply requires a product prototype which is more than sufficient to convince people of your product abilities.
You don’t have to provide intricate details of the product, especially since there are way too many skilled people out there who can create a rip-off in days.
If you disclose details about the product, you may lose the ability to file a patent for your Kickstarter campaign.
File for a Foreign Patent Protection
If your product is open to the world, you will need to file foreign patent protection.
Asian markets are a hotbed for innovative products so if you don’t want your product to end up being sold for cheap, file a foreign patent.
While crowdfunding is a great way to raise funds for your product, it’s also rife with patent and trademark issues. Beware of losing control of your idea especially when you take someone’s ideas or suggestions online and incorporate them into the product.
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This could make them file a claim of your very own product and you’d end up in a dreadful legal nightmare!
So before you step into Kickstarter crowdfunding with an attractive product, make sure you file your patent. Not doing so could mean losing your million-dollar idea to others!