If you are working on a new engineering project, you are probably pretty excited to start this new endeavor. New projects are always fun, but if you don’t take the right steps, all that fun can cause you to destroy the fruits of your own labor. Make sure you take the steps below to protect yourself.
Research your staff. If you have people working with you, do some in-depth research so that you know you are working with a trustworthy group who is not going to steal your designs or ideas. Even with a patent, you are at risk when you work with people who are not fully trustworthy.
Set your materials up for protection. You probably already know to use engineering notebooks, but do you know how to set them up so that your ideas are safe? As you take notes throughout the day, if you have someone else put those notes in your engineering notebooks, you need to assign them a specific code for the day and divide the work so that all of the information is entered, but no one person has access to all the information.
Put a non-disclosure agreement in place. Before you let anyone into your lab or office, they need to sign a non-disclosure agreement that says they will not use or share any of your work, including your ideas, whether they are developed or not. This gives you some legal ground to stand on if you ever need to deal with the issue of someone taking your work or ideas and claiming them as their own.