For most people, the Tullamore Show Inventions Competition borders on being a social event where like-minded people get to meet and have a chat about their latest inventions or ideas. This is exactly the opposite to the perceived image of the inventor, especially in Ireland.
Many use the event to gauge the public's reaction or interest in their invention or concept. Either way, it is usually informal and a good way to hone those inventing and people skills.
If you believe that you have invented the next big thing and you intend to display it at the Tullamore Show or any other public domain, it might be a good idea to look into patenting your invention or concept.
Dr Fergal Brady, patent examiner at the Patents Office in Kilkenny, offers some sensible advice for anyone who wants to protect their invention.
•Don't show it off in public. The sensible thing to do is to come to the patent office first. The time you file it at the Patents Office is the first time you disclose your invention.
•Before you can apply for a patent you need to check if it has already been patented. In Ireland, you can search Irish Patent Offices databases from www.patentsoffice.ie and it also has a link to the European patent database.
•Applying for a patent is enough to protect the invention but the drafting and filing of a patent application can be complex. Though expensive, it is advisable to use a patent agent to draft and file a patent.
•If performing the drafting and filing yourself, there is a lot of information and advice available on the Irish Patent Office's website. But Dr Brady does emphasise that, when filing the description, make sure it is thorough -- it's better to say too much rather than leave something out because you can't add it in afterwards. If you said it, then it's covered.
•The Patents Office does work with and help the applicant and hold a free Intellectual Property (IP) clinic for all applicants where they come down to the Patents Office and talk to the relevant patent expert, trademark expert, etc. But as Dr Brady says: "While we do work with the applicant, we can't be advocate and judge at the same time."
•Help is at hand, so visit www.patentsoffice.ie or telephone 1890 220223.