Abstract ideas, such as the idea of a website for affordable short term (vacation) accommodations, cannot be protected but the concrete result of such an idea sometimes can. If you wait until your idea or creation is fully worked out or implemented you may lose the ability to claim you were first. An i-Envelope can be a useful tool to provide evidence in case of a conflict or dispute because it allows you to prove that your idea or creation already existed on a certain date.
Be aware that the fact you have recorded your idea in an i-Envelope does not mean that you hold an exclusive right or monopoly on that idea.
Recording your idea or creation in an i-Envelope is recommended by BIP SXM in a number of situations:
One of the simplest forms of intellectual property yet most difficult to explain is copyright. Copyright arises automatically by law without the need to register. For most people this is a strange right because Copyright arises at the moment you have created something. If your creation is distinct and original and has your own personal touch, it is covered by copyright. According to the Copyright Ordinance your work has to be original. The extent to which your creation or work is considered original depends on the moment at which it came into existence and whether similar creations or works existed at that time. This means that in order to be able to assess the degree of the originality, it is important to know exactly when the item concerned was invented or designed. This is the evidence that the i-Envelope provides.
A patent right is an exclusive right to a technical or other type of invention. This right enables you to prevent others from marketing your invention. A patent right other than copyright requires a formal registration of your invention through a patent application. However, you may choose not to apply for a patent and keep your invention secret for as long as possible. If the cost of the patent is relatively high in comparison to the expected revenues than financially there is no real gain. If the life-cycle of your product is so short, for example with clothing, then you may decide that the time it takes to complete the application process of the patent is not worth it. So you are left with your invention or creation and still would like to prove that you are the author or designer than you can record your invention or creation in an i-Envelope.
An i-Envelope ensures secrecy for your invention, and at the same time it allows you to prove, if necessary, that the invention is yours.
If your former (business) partner were to apply for a patent for your invention, the i-Envelope would enable you to prove that the invention already existed and is actually yours.
You may want to register a design or patent however you are not ready to do so because your design or invention is not finalized or does not yet satisfy all the conditions to register. In this case you can put your ideas for your design or invention in an i-Envelope which you can use as evidence. This is a useful tool when your design or invention is in the early development stage but already has acquired a distinct style. By recording your idea in the development stage, in an i-Envelope, you will be able to demonstrate, if necessary, that the idea is yours.
If you wish to apply for a patent or design right when your idea has passed the development stage you must ensure to keep the contents of your i-Envelope strictly secret. You can’t publish your design or invention until you have filed a valid application for a design or patent right. If you publish your design or invention before a design or patent right is requested you may lose the option to protect it.
Negotiating with potential partners can be a challenge, especially when you are creative and fear that giving too much detail will allow the other party to use your creativity without recognition or monetary return for yourself. This is no longer an issue, with the i-Envelope you can register your ideas and use your i-Envelope number in a confidentiality agreement. If your potential partner published your idea, you will be able to demonstrate that the confidentiality agreement has been violated. The i-Envelope can be an important first step in your innovation process, for example in the preliminary phase of an application for a design or patent. However, be aware that the i-Envelope does not create in itself an intellectual property right. This means that you will still have to seek legal protection after the design phase. For this reason we advise you to consult an intellectual property expert to discuss your options.