One of the most important things to remember when planning on patenting an invention is to avoid public disclosure of the invention prior to filing the patent application.  

What is a public disclosure? 

It differs from country to country, but generally speaking, a public disclosure is any disclosure of the key details of the invention to any other person, unless that person has signed a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement or is otherwise under some duty that would prevent them from telling people about the invention.  

A public disclosure can be as simple as a single non-confidential conversation with another person, or it can involve making the invention publicly available through some other means. Being made publicly available can include a sale of the invention, a public demonstration, publication on a website, or even a press release. In two recent decisions of the Patent Appeal Board (which can be found here and here), the Board found that press releases related to the results of Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials were enough to render the invention not patentable due to obviousness.  

Therefore, it is crucial for innovators to monitor and review all potential disclosures of information relating to an important invention before a patent application is filed.  

Some countries, like Canada and the United States, have a 1-year grace period that allows you to file a patent application within one year of the date of a public disclosure. Once an invention has been sold, or otherwise made available to the public, the clock starts ticking. If a potential disclosure has already happened, make note of the date of the disclosure, and contact a member of our Team to discuss the best strategy for protection.