Implied Confidential Business Relationships

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 What Is an Implied Confidential Relationship?

An implied confidential relationship is an unwritten understanding between two people to keep particular information secret.

Why Would I Need an Implied Confidential Relationship?

If you invent a product, you may desire to pitch it to potential manufacturers or distributors. While doing this improves your chances of having a commercially prosperous product, it also increases the chance that someone will steal your invention.

Although the best way to safeguard your invention is with a patent, sometimes, you may be unable to get a patent or wish to examine business deals before going through the patent process. Suppose you lack patent protection and cannot obtain a manufacturer or distributor to sign a nondisclosure agreement. In that circumstance, you may want to establish an implied confidential relationship to defend your rights to your invention.

What Is a Patent?

You want to shield your invention from unauthorized use and distribution as an inventor. Under federal patent regulation, a patent is given to an inventor to exclude others from “making, using, offering for sale or selling the invention” in the United States. Therefore, a patent is given to an inventor to defend their invention.

Patents normally exist for twenty years and can be used for any invention in any technology field. Patents are part of international deals with the World Trade Organization (WTO), so member nations are expected to acknowledge and implement legal patents.

Types of Inventions that Can Be Patented

Typically, the invention must be new, unique, and generally unobvious to receive a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.

There are various patents available depending on the item you wish to patent:

  • Utility Patent: Normally, the invention must be a process or method with a concrete result, a machine, a chemical or biological composition of matter, or an invention improvement. The invention must also be moderately valuable to qualify for a utility patent.
  • Design Patent: Typically, the design must be novel, non-obvious, and nonfunctional.
  • Plant Patent: Plants that you create can be patented. The plant must be novel and non-obvious. Naturally occurring substances, laws of nature, ideas, and calculation methods, among other things, cannot be patented.

How Can I Get a Patent for My Invention?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office receives patent applications and makes patent decisions. An inventor must apply to the Patent and Trademark Office and attach detailed drawings and a plan of the proposed invention. The inventor must also include a fee. The plan of the invention must observe a very strict and precise form. After the application is examined, the Patent and Trademark Office will usually challenge the applicant about any objections the office may have.

Please note that as of September 2011, the inventor who first filed the patent will obtain the exclusive rights. Before September 2011, patent protection was granted to those who first developed the technology or product.

Can I Transfer My Patent To A Family Member or Business Partner?

Although the Federal Constitution grants Congress the authority to bestow exclusive rights to inventors only, the current federal code permits patents to be sold, licensed, mortgaged, transferred, or abandoned like any other property.

Patent Infringement

When another party uses your invention or an invention with similar features to your invention, they may be responsible for patent infringement. To demonstrate patent infringement, one must compare the patent’s claims and elements with the device or invention elements that are suspect. If they correspond, there is an infringement. An inventor can implement the patent in a federal court.

What Does Patent Law Cover?

Patent law protects new inventions, computer coding, and industrial operations. Modifications to the manufacturing process of existing products or using a new application of a current process or principle that leads to a new product or a new use may all be protected under patent law. Notably, patent law does not protect ideas.

The most standard patents that patent attorneys help their clients obtain from the United States Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) are a utility patent, a design patent, and a plant patent.
Another typical problem patent attorneys address is patent infringement. If an individual or business makes, uses, or offers for sale that which is patented by someone else without consent from the rightful owner, the patent owner may sue them for damages. Hiring an attorney for a civil lawsuit is recommended and encouraged, as there may be a lot at stake for both sides.

How Do I Establish an Implied Confidential Relationship?

To specify an implied confidential relationship, you must establish that both parties intended to enter into a confidential relationship. Some common factors used to prove this is:

  • Who solicited whom? If the individual to whom you disclosed details asked you for information about your invention, you would have an easier time proving an implied confidential relationship.
  • Was it obvious you were making a business proposal? If you made it obvious that you were telling the individual about your invention in hopes of expenditure, you have a stronger case for an implied confidential relationship.
  • Did you explicitly ask that the information be kept secret? If so, you are more likely to have an implied confidential relationship.
  • Does the info you shared have commercial value? Is it kept secret from other competitors? If so, this weighs in your favor.

There must be some showing of an intention to keep the information secret.

What Happens if Someone Breaks an Implied Confidential Relationship?

Suppose you can establish an implied confidential relationship with someone, and that individual divulges information about your invention. In that case, you can sue them for damages.

Intellectual Property Lawyers

Intellectual property (IP) is an area of law that encompasses fundamental ownership rights over inventions, creative works, special names, ideas, industrial processes, business models, and computer program codes. Intellectual property protection aims to protect the works of creatives and inventors while allowing the public access to those works without the threat of theft.

Intellectual property attorneys help their clients by specifying and protecting intellectual capital. In practice, an IP lawyer helps clients with copyrights, patents, trademarks, licensing, franchising, trade secrets, technology transfers, and distribution problems. Drafting licensing agreements, performing due diligence, and negotiating IP settlements are common practices for intellectual property lawyers.

If you search for an intellectual property lawyer, LegalMatch can help you find the right person for your needs. Please search our database of qualified intellectual property lawyers with the proficiency, skillset, and knowledge to help you guard what is rightfully yours.

Is It Important to Hire an Intellectual Property Lawyer?

Intellectual property law is eclectic and highly technical. Any business or individual interested in protecting the brand, processes, and trade secrets they worked hard to develop should consider consulting an intellectual property lawyer. Not only will the expertise of an IP attorney protect a client, but it may also ensure the future and longevity of a company.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Establish an Implied Confidential Relationship?

If you are concerned about the safety of your rights to your invention, or if you believe an implied confidential relationship has been transgressed, you may want to speak with a patent attorney.

An experienced patent lawyer can tell you if your rights have been violated and can bring a suit for damages.

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