What to Know About Patenting a Publicly Disclosed Invention

What to Know About Patenting a Publicly Disclosed Invention

When it comes to patents, many people make assumptions about what they can and cannot do. This has led to the rise of many myths that have caused plenty of people trouble and cost them their creations. If you are interested in patenting something, it pays to know what myths those are and understand the truth behind them. That way, you can avoid repercussions from misinformation.

In this article, we will address one dangerous myth that you may have heard about, which is about publicly disclosing your patent. More specifically, it is said that you can disclose your creation and file for a patent before the 12-month mark without any consequences. Is this true? Before we answer that, let us first discuss what public disclosure means and what the 12-month mark is.

What Is Public Disclosure?

In its simplest form, public disclosure is when you share your invention with anyone else who is not party to a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. In other words, public disclosure is when you have spilled the secret about your invention.

What Is the 12-Month Mark?

The 12-month mark mentioned is a grace period granted by some countries, such as Canada and the US, that allow inventors to patent their invention even if it has been publicly disclosed. This protects the inventor and gives them time to patent their creation.

Can You Patent a Publicly Disclosed Invention Before the 12-Month Mark?

The truth of the matter is that in some countries you can patent your invention after a public disclosure if you file for a patent within the 12-month grace period. Countries like the US and Canada provide this grace period to protect inventors. However, you must remember that this only applies to specific countries. This means that if someone files for a patent for your invention somewhere else around the world, you may not be able to patent it there. A public disclosure can also prevent you from filing in countries that do not provide for a grace period.

That said, if you are focused on US and Canadian patent laws, you have to remember that they are a little different. In the US, you are allowed to send an informal application within the first 12-months, then a formal application in the following 12 months. In essence, you are given two years to finalize a patent for your invention.

On the other hand, Canadian laws require that you file everything officially between 12 months. This, however, does not protect you in places that require "absolute novelty" such as most European countries meaning that the patent must be filed before it was disclosed. In other words, while no one else can patent the invention, you will not be able to patent it in other countries either.


Simply put, you can file for a patent even if an invention has been disclosed. However, this will only apply to countries like the US and Canada, and you will not be able to patent it anywhere else. This leads to the part of the myth where you will not face any consequences.

Unfortunately, there are consequences. If you have trouble with patenting or need more information on how everything works, reach out to our team. They can guide you through patenting your inventions to ensure your creations are protected.

If you need assistance from a patent agent or lawyer in Alberta, call us today!

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