Policy Regarding Unsolicited Ideas
Suggestions for new products come to us in all stages of development from nothing more than an idea to a fully working prototype demonstration. In reality, most of these ideas are not patentable and very likely, our engineers have considered them before the outsider's suggestion arrived. Significant development of a new idea may be impractical when we have already committed our limited resources to more promising research and development. The commercial success of a new product demands a huge investment that may have more value than the idea itself. Any product incorporating the new idea must be safe, practical, economical, present no downside risk on existing business. Patent protection is an important necessity to reduce the risk that any investment in a new idea will be lost to competition. Generally, we do not invest in technology that cannot be protected by patent.
To be patentable, an idea must be described in a patent application that is examined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and at least found to be new in light of all prior patents. Many patents have been granted for inventions that are not part of any commercial product. Consequently, the fact that an idea is not currently in a product on the market does not indicate that the idea is patentable. A patent application may result in a patent, though the process takes at least three years in most cases.
We provide the following guidelines for those who would like us to consider their suggestions. By providing this guidance we are not soliciting proposals. Quite the contrary. Because handling outsiders' ideas represents an expense to us with only a small chance of return, we offer these guidelines in hopes to reduce the number of submitted ideas we must reject as unsatisfactory for the reasons stated above.
Unsolicited: All ideas submitted to us are considered unsolicited if they are submitted before a formal agreement for joint development has been executed by you and an officer of TASER International, Inc.
No Confidentiality: The value of an idea may be diminished or entirely lost if the idea is not kept secret until a complete patent application has been filed. Every unsolicited idea comes to us without any agreement by TASER International, Inc. to do anything to protect its confidentiality. By submitting to us an unsolicited idea and asking for our review, we are free to review the idea with TASER International Inc. employees, officers, and directors as well as consultants who are not our employees. By going about the review you requested, we do not incur any liability to you for disclosure of the idea to others.
No Implied Agreement: Our act of receiving an unsolicited idea for review does not create any obligation to you. We are not obligated to review the idea. We are not obligated to use the idea or to refrain from use of the idea. As a courtesy, it is our goal to respond to those who submit ideas, however it is not unusual for the contact information of the person submitting the idea to be incomplete or inaccurate, preventing our response from being sent or delivered. We prefer to correspond by US mail, however if there is no US mail address provided or if our response by US mail is returned to us, we do not take any further action to respond.
No Compensation: The desires of the individual submitting the idea or the type of idea itself may be consistent with submitting an idea as a gift to TASER. For example, an individual who already has an economic interest in TASER International, Inc., such as a shareholder, supplier, or distributor, may consider he or she will receive any benefit from the idea through an existing economic interest. It is sometimes satisfying just to know that a minor product improvement was made at your request with no expectation of monetary reward. If it is your intention to forego any compensation for the idea, please submit your idea with a signed copy of our Acknowledgement form.
Patentability: We recommend that if you do not desire to waive all rights to the idea, you come to a realistic view of the value of the idea before contacting us. Do not rely on the assistance of so-called invention development companies, because many of them do not return real value for the fees they charge. Patent search firms and patent attorneys vary widely in the types of technology they are able to accurately understand (e.g., electrical circuits, plastic molding, battery chemistry, computer programming, etc.). A patent search firm or patent attorney with experience in the technology of your idea may show you what existing patents and other public information block getting a patent on your idea. After a patent attorney has advised you, if you are convinced that the idea is patentable, we may consider reviewing a filed non-provisional patent application under a nondisclosure agreement or a published patent application without a nondisclosure agreement.
Complete Proposal: If you desire compensation for our use of an unsolicited idea you suggest to us, the idea must be submitted as a complete proposal as follows. If what we receive from you is not a complete proposal, we will return all materials to you, and explain the deficiency. Please submit your idea using the postal mail address IP Dept., TASER International, Inc., 17800 N. 85th St., Scottsdale, AZ 85255 or submit by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A complete proposal includes:
- Submitter's name and postal mail address and the type of organization; e.g., profit, nonprofit, educational, small business;
- Names and telephone numbers to be contacted for evaluation or negotiation purposes;
- Whether the submitter is the originator of the idea or is in the business of marketing the idea for someone else (e.g., an invention development company, an investor, a potential joint developer);
- For a proposed technology: (1) reference to an issued patent and terms for purchase or license under the patent; (2) if the idea has been described in a non-provisional patent application, a copy of the application; otherwise (3) if no patent or patent application, then an assignment of rights signed by you and any other joint inventor and a description of the problem solved and the solution that constitutes the idea; and
- For any non-technological idea, a complete description of the idea in a manner amenable for protection by trade secret, trademark, or copyright law and proposed terms of a joint venture or license agreement.
TASER® and © are registered trademarks of TASER International, Inc. ©2015 TASER International, Inc. All rights reserved.