The Internet is a fabulous incubator for new concepts, as long as nobody
steals your eggs. Jeffrey Lewis, a partner at Patterson, Belknap, Webb &
Tyler LLP in New York, says online idea banks, including technically oriented
Usenet newsgroups, can be a hotbed for competition as well as collaboration.
"The problem is that many of these user networks are people in the same field
working in different companies," Lewis says. "You have to tell your in-house
employees to be careful not to post everything to the Internet."
Another concern is that U.S. law dictates that once you have gone public with
an invention, you have only one year to file for a patent, after which time
your brainchild winds up in the public domain. Talking about your idea on the
Web, even in the context of asking for feedback or advice, sets that clock
While that one-year deadline forces companies to use or lose, if also affords
them at least temporary protection aginst competitors beating them to the
punch. But other countries lack such grace period, meaning someone in
Botswana who reads about your musical corkscrew on the Net can patent it
[The color highlights I have put in for additional consideration]
These are some things to think about...