How to prevent your idea getting into the hands of competitors during market testing

By Chloe Williamson

How to prevent your idea getting into the hands of competitors during market testing.

Market testing your invention can be a great way of understanding its commercial potential. Sharing your concept can allow you to see if there will be a demand for the finished product and how popular or successful it could potentially be. However, sharing your ideas can bring negatives as well as positives. Gaining insight into your market and understanding the response to your invention can be invaluable; but, the risk of competitors getting their hands on your idea and rushing a similar concept into production before you get the chance to is also something to think about.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid the copycats but also gain an understanding of the market’s response to your product, invention or concept. Firstly, consider applying for a patent before you carry out the testing. This will prevent your unique ideas from being taken by rival companies who might have the spend power to create a market-ready version of your product much quicker than you can. It’s worth noting that patents don’t need to be granted before you commence the testing process. A patent pending is enough protection during the testing phase and this should ensure your ideas stay yours.

When you’re considering the group of testers you’ll be sharing your idea or product with, you might want to use a prototype to fully demonstrate its uses and features. However, it’s wise to keep these prototypes in minimal contact with the testers. If you choose to give some samples or small prototypes out, make sure they’re collected in at the end of the session, to avoid your idea being let out into the world. It seems extreme, but if a rival company came across them, it could cost you your entire invention.

Similarly, it’s important to make sure that the group you use to test your invention are prevented from revealing the unique and inventive features of your concept. Using a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement can mean that those ideas don’t get shared with people who potentially could take them and use them in their own work.

The issue of disclosure is an important one. Even if a confidentiality agreement is used, it’s important to think about exactly what you reveal about your invention. The exact workings and processes may need to be kept private before they are patent-protected to avoid over-disclosure. Stick instead to the interesting and useful features, rather than the intricate methods and procedures. Similarly, keeping the name of your product secret prevents any rival trade marks being registered, making sure you can title your invention without being limited by competitive trade marks.

About the author

Chloe Williamson is a creative Copywriter based in London. Recently graduated, she is currently working at Mediarun delivering the freshest and most creative content materials across the fashion, beauty, professional services (law) and digital marketing industries.

About the company

Withers & Rogers LLP is one of the leading intellectual property law firms in the UK and Europe. They specialise in the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, including: patent protection for inventions; trade mark registration for brands; and design rights, both registered and unregistered, for products. In enforcement, they act either for the claimant or the defendant in patent infringement, trade mark infringement and design right infringement proceedings.

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