FAQs: 4. What is Invention Harvesting?

What is invention harvesting?
The fourth of our FAQs series: What is invention harvesting?

When you’re trying to decide what might need protecting, start by thinking about what it is that will distinguish your business and/or product(s) from those of your nearest competitors. What features will make your customers buy your product rather than any other similar product in the market. It is these features that really should be protected. As your business grows, R&D developments can become harder and harder to keep track of so, in this blog, we look at What is Invention Harvesting?

What is Invention Harvesting?

Invention harvesting is an important process for any company looking to build or expand a patent portfolio, and involves the collection and documentation of inventions and ideas from an inventor or R&D team. It is often the first step on the road to obtaining patent protection for these inventions and ideas.

Invention harvesting is often best performed as an active process, usually driven and guided by your Chartered patent attorney. Passively waiting for inventors to suggest ideas for patenting is likely to lead to potentially valuable patentable ideas being passed over, as inventors may dismiss potentially critical novel features as “obvious”. This active process could take the form of regular meetings between inventors and your Chartered patent attorney, with a view to capturing or even generating ideas and inventions.

By actively seeking out potentially patentable ideas, the strongest possible patent portfolio can be created.

Invention Disclosure Form

Many companies (both large and small) use an Invention Disclosure Form (IDF) to try and capture everything coming from the R&D department and help the management team to decide what may contribute to the company’s USP. A sample IDF is provided below, and it is nothing more than a series of searching questions that will make your R&D minds really think about the novelty and key benefits of what they have created.

Example IDF

  1. Background (what is/are the problem(s) to be solved and what, if any, solutions are currently available?
  2. Describe how the invention works (what feature(s) of the invention solve(s) the above problem(s), and how? If appropriate, why is this solution better than those already known?
  3. Provide a detailed description of at least one way in which the invention could be embodied/implemented. Drawings and diagrams can be really useful here, if appropriate.
  4. (optional) Where, in the current business, might this invention provide a commercial benefit, and how?

IP Audit

An IP audit is a review to gain a clear understanding of all of the IP it owns, identify any gaps, and then provide strategic IP management guidance and advice to help you to make the most of its potential and value. Grants are available toward IP audits for SMEs, and for more information, contact Innovate UK Edge (in England) or the Welsh Assembly Government (for Wales). Again, more information on this can be found in our ebook “The SME Guide to Patents “. In the meantime, you can try an IP Healthcheck offered by the UK Intellectual Property Office: www.ipo.gov.uk/iphealthcheck/.

But there is no substitute for the personal touch, so if you want to explore this matter further, feel free to
book a free initial consultation with one of our patent attorneys:

Contact Details

Book your free consultation today.
Call: +44(0)7714797135
email: vicki.strachan@strachanip.co.uk
wesbite: https://strachanip.co.uk/contact/
or just book a mutually convenient meeting via the
Calendly link: https://calendly.com/strachan-ip-a-fresh-view-of-intellectual-property/30min

Final note: if you want to secure patent protection for your invention, you must not disclose the invention to anyone, except in the strictest of confidence, unless and until a UK patent application has been filed.

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