Can an idea be protected without a patent?
The patent is the main and only instrument offering a guarantee of protection for the idea in itself. A deposit at a Notary or any other methods will not substitute the patent, nor will the inventor be able to request any compensation for his creativity.
However, when a particular technology, which is non patentable or we do not want to patent, is realized, it is possible to commercialize it by using the so called “contracts of know-how”; the technical knowledge as a whole which allows gaining a certain result or producing a specific object, are transferred or given as a licence. These contracts are possible on two conditions: Firstly, that the know-how or rather the teaching given must be innovative; secondly, it must be secret.
With these requisites a contract with a company can be stipulated, we agree to reveal all information in our possession upon payment of a certain sum, and the company undertakes to keep the outmost discretion on all that is described to them. Quite clearly these types of agreements are not suitable for those very simple products that are too evident to be realized and where any particular and secret technology is missing.
Another important thing is that, whilst with the patent there are rights against anyone copying the invention, with these contracts we can claim only against the other contracting party, not towards everyone without distinction. Therefore, should someone, by chance, produce something with the same technology as ours, we could not advance any claims. Consequently, it is advisable to think properly about all the aspects of the situation before establishing the best solution for the specific case.