It is important to be able to show when the invention was first conceived and reduced to practice (shown to work via some type of model or prototype).  Remember that the US, unlike most other countries, awards rights to the party that can demonstrate it was the first to invent. 

It is also important to be able to show what is the claimed invention. 

Standard practice in industry is to record activities in a bound notebook (available at any office supply store or large grocery/drug store).  The essential point about this type of notebook is that pages can not be removed or substituted. 

The entries in the notebook are made in ink, dated and signed.  Any necessary corrections should be crossed through by a single line (don’t “white out”).  You may need to show what you entered in error.

The notebook entries may also include any drawings (handwritten is okay) showing the device or test method. 

The entries should also be signed by at least one person not participating in the invention, but being aware and understanding the subject and activity being undertaken.  This witnessing adds to the value of the notebook as a record of when and what actions were taken and the results obtained.

Regular entries in the notebook can be especially helpful.

Although this method of keeping a notebook may appear old fashioned or archaic, it is a recognized method of proof.  Remember, in the worst case, you may have to make your proof in court, (another place that many would say is old fashioned and archaic).   See also What Not to do before you file.

October 3, 2006