"We have come to know that our ability to survive and grow as a nation to a very large degree depends on our scientific progress. Moreover, it is not enough simply to keep abreast of the rest of the world in scientific matters. We must maintain that leadership."
-President Harry S. Truman, on signing the law that
"Priority date" is a very important concept to learn if you are interested in patents. The priority date proves when you came up with your invention. It is like a place holder for your idea. It is important because if another inventor comes up with the same idea, the priority date will decide who had the idea first.
That's why we think filing a provisional patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is the way to go. It sets your priority date - it sets your official date of invention. If you publicly disclose your invention, that becomes your priority date.
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.
Printed publication can be further defined as any communication that:
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
You can see that making an invention public on the internet falls under "public disclosure" and starts the one year clock ticking to obtain a utility patent.