Intellectual property theft is an all-too-common occurrence. Without patents or other legal protections, your ideas, processes, and developments can fall into the hands of competitors. Don’t let your hard work go to waste under someone else’s name. By keeping a careful record of your research and processes, you can protect yourself, your business, and your property. Whether you’re a student in your first research lab or a leading scientist in your industry, learn how to protect intellectual property in your notebook with these best practices.
Intellectual Property vs. Patent
Patents protect intellectual property, but not all intellectual property is protectable under a patent. If you haven’t or are unable to register for a patent, your invention could be at risk. That’s where other intellectual property laws come in. Unlike patent law, which relies on the registration of an idea, intellectual property protects the party that first came up with that idea. If you can prove that the invention or process is your original creation, you can protect it from competitors and other parties looking to take advantage of your work.
Write With Permanence
Your scientific notebook plays a huge role in defending your original ideas. If you have a record of your work, you have a better chance of proving that it’s your intellectual property. To do this, you must have a reliable notebook with clear, permanent records of your research, experiments, and development. Use a permanently bound notebook with numbered pages. These measures will ensure that no one can rip out or re-order pages without your knowledge. Write all entries legibly and in permanent ink. Finally, make sure you date and sign every page once you finish it. Even if you think an entry is insignificant, the act of dating and signing it proves that you were the one to complete the research. This technique will prove that every step of the process is a product of your hard work.
Make Changes Carefully
Mistakes are just another part of the scientific process, so marking them correctly plays a crucial role in how to protect intellectual property in your notebook. If you have to make changes to your notebook entries, make them so that you can see both the old and new information. Never use whiteout to cover up mistakes. Instead, cross them out so that the words are still legible, and add a note whenever you add new information. You should also sign and date every change. Once again, this will help prove that every step of the process—even the mistakes you made along the way—is your own.