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Proving Your Invention Was First

The United States bases their patent on the first to invent rule, which means that they grant the patent to the first inventor conceives and reduces the invention or technology to practice such as a well-written description or a working prototype.

Other countries, on the other hand, go by the "first to file" rule, which means the first person to file a patent application will be the one that gets the patent granted. If you're in the United States and have to live by the first to invent rule, the first thing you'll need to get is a logbook.

Keeping Accurate Records

The purpose of your logbook is to keep track of when you first conceived of the idea, any test results and any important information related to your invention. Keep in mind that what may not seem important to you may be important to your assessor jot down anything that may be even remotely important.

The start of your logbook should have the very minute you thought of your idea. The purpose of keeping an accurate logbook is that it can be used as proof of the conception date of your invention. Your continuous activity in the logbook will prove due diligence, which may help answer questions that may arise in the patent process. Keep track of (with dates) all activities from the start of your invention right up until your ideas became an invention. In legal terms, this is called "reduction to practice".

If a patent examiner rejects your patent application because the examiner discovers some prior art that is dated earlier than your invention, the dates in your logbooks may prove to be invaluable.

Many people mistakenly feel they can have a friend or coworker testify on their behalf or mail a letter to themselves, using the postmark as proof. This will not work, even if the letter is registered. Nothing will more effective in getting a patent than an accurate inventor's logbook or journal.

You must write the logbook as accurately as you do the patent application. Failure to do so could cost you your patent. Your logbook should be a bound binder so the examiners are ensured that additional pages weren't added. Don't skimp here – get a logbook and maintain it diligently and accurately.