Vicky Walker, an experienced French surgeon, came up with an innovative idea about a hip joint that can be worn externally, without requiring surgery.
She made a sketch and designed the prototype herself but needs help to produce it and to start commercializing it. Vicky approaches BigMed, a well-known medical devices company, catches their interest and a meeting is scheduled.
Excited about sharing her idea, during the meeting she shows the prototype and gives BigMed representatives a copy of the sketch as they discuss about potentially working together to produce it.
The medical devices company likes Vicky's invention and asks to present the prototype at an upcoming medical conference to test its potential.
A few months later, Vicky sees an article in the medical press about her invention. But wait, it's attributed it to BigMed, the medical devices company, who have filed a patent and want to go to market as soon as possible.
They stole my idea?!
Outraged, Vicky contacts the company for explanations. She is told that they checked and there was no patent on the invention, so they decided to file themselves after making a few improvements to the prototype.
Vicky contacts her lawyer, determined to reclaim her rights on the invention, but it's not looking good:
- No confidentiality agreement was signed before the meeting
- No patent application was filed by Vicky prior to disclosing it to BigMed
Vicky, you could have avoided the situation by:
- Preparing a confidentiality agreement requiring the company to keep your invention confidential and limit the purpose for which the disclosed information can be used.
- Keeping discussions high level
- Not showing sketches or prototypes
- Limiting what you share to what is essential
Read more about how to protect your invention when engaging with third parties.
Originally published June 12, 2020.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.