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To protect an idea, a patent is one choice but so is defensive publication

Among the tools available to in-house attorneys who strive to protect new ideas of employees is defensive publication. An extended discussion of this technique appears in the “Canadian briefings” supplement, at page 5, to the ACC Docket of September 2011. As I understand it, when a company concludes that an innovation is marginally valuable or where “significant naturally-occurring competitive advantages are present,” it might make sense to publish the idea. Doing so creates “prior art” that precludes someone else from obtaining a patent, since patents can only be granted for novel inventions. If someone else has already written about the idea for the public, that prior art denies the later, same idea’s novelty. One more task to consult on and oversee for the inside patent lawyer.

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