One area where kid inventors may put themselves at a disadvantage is in the case of public disclosure of their inventions. Under United States law, a public disclosure occurs when an invention is:
- Described in a printed publication anywhere in the world;
- Placed in public use in the United States; or
- Offered for sale in the United States.
- Appears in a fixed-media form (i.e., not necessarily “printed”);
- Is considered to be available to the public (either because it was intended to be made public, as an article in a scientific journal, or because it was made without an obligation of confidentiality, as a casual letter to a friend); and
- Describes an invention in such detail that one familiar with the field (“skilled in the art”) could duplicate it or put it into use.1
Another issue that arises is that when kids
disclose their invention idea in a general way but don't disclose all details, no priority date is established for the finer points of their invention. That means that if someone else either discloses or files a provisional application with details you intended to be part of your invention but did not publicly disclose, the other party secures the priority date on those details.
So what does this all mean? If you are going to go public with your invention, tell all - but only do so if you either:
- Do intend to file a utility patent within one year of disclosure
- Do not intend to file any patent applications and are intentionally sharing your idea for others to use.
1Thanks to the University of Tennessee Research Foundation website for some of this information