I have recently come up with a very interesting concept in engineering that I would also like to share with peers. However, I am relatively fearful that someone may hear the idea and make it or patent it before I can. Thus, I would like to find a way to legally mark the idea as my own and make certain that no one can copy the concept and profit off of the copy.

The way the device works is relatively simple. The method of operation I would like to have labelled as mine would be relatively general ("chlorine gas is run through liquid x to produce y, which is taken to the magnetic gun", "water is used to make the metal behave like a conductor for when y is introduced"). I would like to lay claim. to this concept if possible. It has never been done before, thus, there is no worry about it being in public domain. I would just like it under my name.

The device design is far too expensive for me to build at the moment on any scale. I am afraid that if someone with money gets wind of how it works on a basic level, they could create it for themselves, especially if they are in the particular industry that I am focusing on.

Unfortunately, I am very low on money at the moment and could maybe only pay $200 to undergo whatever would be needed to claim the idea as my own. What options are available to me? How should I proceed? Thank you.

2 Answers 2


Simply stated, there is no way to protect your idea other than keeping it a secret. Even then, if someone else discovers the invention independently, they can file for a patent and if they do so before you and it gets granted, they will own the invention. You can file a provisional patent application for a low cost which will give you a year to raise funds to draft and file a non-provisional application. Even then, you need to know what to put in the provisional application to assure you get the benefit of its filing date. Some people file a provisional application and use that time to raise money to fund the filing of non-provisional patent applications along with development of the invention. To disclose the invention to potential investors requires you have a signed confidentiality agreement. These are usually simple one page affairs and you can find examples using Google.


You can keep the idea/concept/invention confidential until you have enough money to file a patent.

People with no previous background who write and file their own patents do not often end up with the protection they desired but it is possible for you to make a serious study of patent law and patent office procedures. I recommend David Pressman's Patent It Yourself. It is not an easy path but the book + filing fees for as a An alternative is to find a business partner/investor. I also recommend posting at patents.stackexchange.com for fewer uninformed comments regarding patents.

Also - the USPTO has regional pro bono programs. If you qualify, you can get free help from a patent attorney. You need to pay the USPTO fees and the criteria includes your likely commercial success.

(This is a copy of my answer to the same question posted on law.stackexchange.com)

  • Thank you, I took your advice and moved the question here to see if I could get new advice.
    – t1r3d
    Aug 19, 2019 at 23:55
  • I hope you do get other answers to add to what I have answered.
    – George White
    Aug 20, 2019 at 0:01

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