Scenario 5: Government Grants
You have come up with a great idea but don’t have the money to get your idea commercialized.
You discover a government grant that will provide you with a significant amount of funding for commercialization but you will have to disclose sensitive details about your invention in order to apply for the grant. You haven’t filed any patents because you don’t have the money and the deadline for the grant application is coming up soon.
You have one of two choices, (1) you either apply for the grant and make the disclosures; or (2) you decide to forego the grant. You decide you are going to apply for the grant.
What approach should you take when you are disclosing information about your invention? After all, you are dealing with the government so how risky can it be?
- While the government isn’t likely going to steal your idea, you still have to be careful. The information you provide to them might end up being disclosed to a third party for a variety of reasons. Although this disclosure is often inadvertent, the damage will be done.
- So what you should do is limit the details you provide to the extent you can and you should make sure you clearly identify the sensitive information as being confidential.
- You could also consider a stipulation that if the government is compelled by access to government information laws to make disclosures that implicate your confidential information/trade secrets, you should be given the opportunity to intervene to resist the disclosure.
Even though access to government information legislation generally provides safeguards against disclosure of your confidential information/trade secrets, it is not always that clear. Be aware of this risk and attempt as best you can to protect yourself at the outset against possible harm down the road.