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J. Nevin Shaffer, JR. J. Nevin Shaffer, JR.
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Three New Year’s Resolutions for People With an Idea

By J. Nevin Shaffer, Jr.

1. I resolve to get it written down and witnessed!

Every great idea has a starting point. The number one thing you can do to protect it is to make a written record and get it witnessed. Then relax. The United States is the only country in the world that does not require you to race to the patent office with a patent application. We are a first to invent country which begs the question: How do you prove you invented first? Ergo, the witnessed document!

2. I resolve to keep my mouth shut!

People with great ideas are naturally nervous and for good reason. There are very few good ideas in the world. Still, if you have an idea, you will eventually need to talk to some one like a banker, a venture capitalist, a prototype manufacturer, or the like. So how do you talk to someone and keep your mouth shut? A Non Disclosure Agreement is the ticket. A simple contract that requires the person you want to talk to to keep what you tell them confidential. Have them sign it and they must keep their mouth shut and you don’t have to!

3. I resolve to investigate the market!

My Mom, rest her soul, loved every idea I had. “Nevie! Mud pies! You’re a genius!” The problem is your family and friends love you and your ideas. So, rather than relying on them for market analysis, go to the internet! You want to know the who, what, why where and when of the market for your idea. The more information the better. Particularly, you want to know how big it is and where. “How big” tells you how much you want/need to spend to protect it and “Where” tells you where you need it protected. Forget about protecting it in the rip off capitals of the world (think communist dictatorships, for example.) You really only need it protect it where the market is, not where it is going to be made or knocked off!

Copyright 2008 Nevin Shaffer. Licensed Patent Attorney-Florida Bar Board Certified Intellectual Property Law Specialist. All rights reserved and I have a big dog that will chew your arm off if you copy this! Contact Nevin at 850-934-4124, or visit his web site at

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