You’ve been working as a nurse for some time now. Naturally, you’ve found a way to make devices work better, patients successful at caring for themselves at home, or a great time saver on the electronic medical record.  

Call it a trick or a nurse work around, but you could have a great innovation on your hands. This idea could save time or money or improve the health of huge numbers of patients, so naturally you want to share it with the world. But first things first: how do you protect your work? 

What are intellectual property rights? 

Intellectual property covers the rights an inventor or innovator has to a new and unique process, device, invention, piece of technology (including software or code). It is the umbrella term under which laws covering trademarks, copyright, and patents fall. 

What is a copyright? 

Copyright legal protection for the fruit of your brain: think ideas, works of art, novel processes, software, written works, apps.  

What is a patent? 

Patents are legal devices that protect inventions: thinks that are made, medical devices, hospital equipment, new PPE. 

What is a trademark? 

A trademark is legal protection for design, mark, or signature that identifies your work or product. Think golden arches, Nike swoosh, Google’s search page with its signature font and colored letters. This is important for keeping your brand singularly associated with you. 

How do I get a copyright, patent, or trademark? 

Each protected legal status requires several steps. The good news: all are granted on the federal level and will apply in every state. Below are resources to help you investigate further.  

Two best pieces of advice for all innovators at this stage: 

  1. Keep dated notes during the development of your work. First drafts, sketches, notepads with ideas, will all be useful in your application, and help prove the idea is ours. 
  2. Use a lawyer. These protections are foundational to further growth and investing in the right places is crucial for successful business. Using a pro now may save your business in the long run.

JOIN US AT NURSING INNOVATION HUB (NIHUB), where nurse innovators collaborate with designers, engineers, developers, investors, corporations, and academia. Become a member and gain access to our expert advisors, mentors, accelerator and business incubator services, technology resources, and potential investors. All under one roof! Find support and answers in your journey to create technology to grow your businesses that drive the future of digital health.