“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you do research you must keep meticulous notes of the inventive process. Laboratory notebooks often play an important role during the patent prosecution process and even after a patent has issued. A properly kept notebook is invaluable in cases in which another party claims a patent to be invalid or in interference cases in which two or more patents have been issued on the same invention and the true inventor must be ascertained”. By Stephen Albainy-Jenei creator of the blog Patent Baristas specializing in Intellectual Property issues in the pharmaceutical industry.
I make this point in How to Record an Invention but I couldn’t resist quoting the advice of one of the well known bloggers.
Documentation is key in the legal world. If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen. Record, date and sign all efforts to achieve an inventive improvement,
The lab notebook does not (hopefully) only record the date you made your invention, but also records the steady work that was made in attempting to achieve the invention. Long term diligent efforts to achieve success can overcome the serendipitous success of a competitor.