It’s the worst nightmare of every laboratory scientist: After spending months or years working on an experiment, you find out that someone has stolen your ideas and tried to claim your discoveries as their own. Intellectual property theft is a very real threat to the livelihoods and reputations of scientists—one that should be guarded against at all times.
The good news is that there are steps scientists can take to protect themselves against intellectual property theft, and it all starts with their laboratory notebook.
Know Your Rights
The first step in protecting your intellectual property is understanding how IP laws work. The good news is that, unlike patent law, intellectual property and copyright law protect the party that first created an idea, not the party that first tried to register or market it. As long as you can prove that you were the one to come up with an idea, you can protect your intellectual property from anyone who might try to steal it.
Use a Bound Notebook with Numbered Pages
Since proving who came up with an idea or generated a data set is the heart of any intellectual property case, the first step to guarding your laboratory IP is to make sure you use the right notebook. Any notebook you use in the lab should be bound (so that pages can’t be added or taken out without leaving evidence) and should have numbered pages. If the pages don’t come numbered, add your own to every page.
Sign and Date All Pages
When you record information in your notebook, be sure to sign and date every page before the day is over. It doesn’t matter how insignificant the data on a page might seem – protecting your IP means being able to show every step of the process. For even more security, have at least two other people who understand the science behind what you are doing, and sign and date the pages so that there is additional corroboration.
Date Any Changes
Laboratory notebook pages should be written in ink, and any changes should be made by crossing out the old information and adding a note when new information is added. Anytime a change is made, initial and date the changes so that there is a record of when the changes were made. Do not use whiteout, and make sure that the crossed-out information is still visible.
Cross Out Unused Page Space
If any part of a laboratory notebook doesn’t have any writing in it, cross it out by drawing a diagonal line through the entire unused portion. This includes both pages that are completely blank and any unused portions of a partially marked page. By crossing out the blank spaces, you can show that no additional information was added after the fact.
Scientific Notebook Company’s laboratory notebooks are the perfect tool for every hard-working laboratory scientist. View our inventory online today, or contact us at 800-537-3028 for more information.