Let's say I had thought of the idea of a "computer mouse", but I did not know how to design the circuitry.

Would it be a safe thing to solicit the services of an expert? What type of protections should I consider?

Can I submit the patent's idea before contracting this work out?

1 Answer 1


I've contracted engineers and product development firms several times. The standard agreement is that any patentable content developed during the course of the agreement would be owned by you (or your company) since you are paying for the work. You need to make sure this is clearly spelled out in the contract, but as I said, it is pretty much standard at least in the US and the UK. If patentable material is generated, the contracted engineer may be listed as an inventor, but the assignee would be you or your firm.

  • 1
    Don't forget the NDA
    – user18033
    Aug 30, 2017 at 15:13
  • @DonQuiKong Excellent point. Every contract I've had with a design firm includes confidentiality, but before you get there you need an NDA just to discuss the project parameters.
    – Eric S
    Aug 30, 2017 at 22:45
  • @DonQuiKong Not to mention, possibly, "non-compete". In theory, one might compete without unlawfully disclosing the proprietary invention, and not every NDA includes a non-compete clause.
    – Upnorth
    Aug 31, 2017 at 20:27
  • @Upnorth good point. I don't know how common non-compete clauses are in these cases (might prove difficult for a contractor to keep many non compete clauses), but it's worth to think about one.
    – user18033
    Aug 31, 2017 at 21:02
  • @Upnorth No product development firm will agree to a non-compete clause unless you represent a huge amount of continuing business. Maybe for Microsoft or General Motors. For a small firm, no way.
    – Eric S
    Aug 31, 2017 at 22:11

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