Don’t Let Your Idea Become Public Domain!
The US patent law requires filing a patent application for inventions within a set time of various events occurring. These events trigger deadlines called “bar dates.” In the United States, the law allows one year from the date of first public disclosure, public use, publication, sale or offer for sale of an invention, in which to file at least a provisional patent application. Failure to do so prohibits (or forever bars, hence the term “bar date”) the filing of a patent application for that invention. In other words, if an inventor does any one of these things on December 1, 2010, then the inventor must file at least a provisional patent application by December 1, 2011, or the invention has essentially been donated to the public domain.
Most foreign countries have an even stricter standard – the invention cannot have disclosed at all prior to filing a patent application.
STOP READING right now if you have done anything which might be considered to have triggered a bar date, and talk to a patent attorney right away to discuss your particular situation.