I talk to a lot of inventors and they often tell me how complicated it was to get patents and do the other things necessary to protect their ideas. Occasionally someone who has invented a tool will ask me what they should do to prevent someone else from stealing their idea. I tell them I’m not an attorney and would not know the first thing about how to protect intellectual property (IP). Fortunately, there are people out there who do. Better yet, some are willing to share that information for free.

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued the Intellectual Property Patent & Licensing Guide. Aimed specifically at construction safety and health researchers and inventors, the guide grew out of the organizations’ involvement with some University of California ergonomics researchers who invented an accessory for drilling concrete and wanted to commercialize it.

Created with the help of a patent attorney, the guide explains what inventors should do to protect their ideas including information on patents, licensing, and non-disclosure agreements. I’m not an attorney so I can’t vouch for the quality of the advice contained in the guide. But it looks to be a good introduction to the topic and is probably worth a look if you have an idea for a tool or are developing a product.