I came up with a great idea in college. I thought that it was going to change my life. No, I can’t tell you what it was. Seriously. Legally, I’m not allowed to. However, I can tell you about the situation that surrounded this great idea, and what I tried to do with it.
It all started with a project for an engineering class that I did with a partner. My professor said that I should get the idea patented. I told my lab partner about this idea, but he didn’t seem that interested in following it through. I told him that I would work on the idea and the patent. I figured I would see where it took me.
I ended up getting a PhD in my field while my old lab partner went into business. I filed for a patent during graduate school, but I could only scrape together enough money to do a normal filing, not an accelerated one. 18 months later, I received a letter from the United States Patent office. It stated that my patent was denied because the idea had already been patented! Turns out, my old lab partner had filed for the same patent, using the old draft I had sent him in college, but he used his business connections to get it rushed through prosecution. I was livid.
I did not go to a lawyer when I should have. Instead, I tried to talk to my old lab partner. This was not a good idea. First, he told me that of course he would let me file my patent and I could become a partner in his company. He said that I would be able to oversee the development of the patent into a real product, and that we could make a difference in the world together.
Instead of all of that, he turned around and sold that patent to an even bigger company. God only knows what they will do with it. I doubt it will be something good. They might even simply sit on it, just to keep a competitor out of the market. I got nothing. Remember, always go to a qualified attorney first thing when it comes to patents. You need someone on your side so you don’t get screwed.