Hypothetically, if I had an idea to improve an algorithm/theorem but

  1. I wasn't sure it was correct, or
  2. I wasn't sure it was significant or meaningful or hasn't already been published in a different form/somewhere else already or wasn't sure where to submit something like this .

is there somewhere I could submit a manuscript first privately to secure any intellectual property rights while I think about whether it is worth submitting or trying to do some more work on this and try to understand the field a bit better?


2 Answers 2


Please note that this does not substitute proper legal advice. In the US, I believe that patent protection falls under the 'first inventor to file' rule. So it is not relevant who the first inventor is, but who the first inventor is who files for patent protection. So if you want to claim IP protection in the US then the only relevant place to file is at the USPTO. This is indeed private at first, since patents are made public a year after filing.

Also, please note the publishing your data before filing for a patent may constitute 'prior art', which could mean that any future attempt at filing a patent in the US would be denied.

The safest (and possibly only) option for you to protect the IP for your idea is to file for (and get awarded) a patent.

Renewed disclaimer: This constitutes my personal opinion and should not be taken as legal advice.

  • 1
    Indeed, the US has not been first to invent for some time now...
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 4, 2021 at 18:53
  • 1
    Just for clarification: "prior art" is still a criterion to invalidate a claim for the USPTO, right? "first to file" just means that the USPTO does not have to resolve who first invented something (e.g. via lab books etc.), do I understand that correctly? But if something is public, it cannot be patented, or does "first to file" override even that? Jan 4, 2021 at 19:04
  • 2
    It is my understanding @CaptainEmacs that you can 'prior art' yourself by publishing your work before patenting it. So in fact if the OP wants to protect their IP they would need to be really careful in where and how to 'publish'. Of course, the OP was asking where to 'submit [...] privately'--which wouldn't be prior art, but then again, it would also not protect IP either. Jan 4, 2021 at 19:09
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    I see. And I believe the general answer is that B gets the patent and A gets nothing. I also believe that this is at the heart of the CRISPR saga between In part, that is was one of the central issues in the CRISPR patent fight between the Broad and UCB. Jan 4, 2021 at 19:18
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    Yes. There were two issues at play: Broad filed later than UCB, but filed as expedited claim so were awarded protection first. In addition, there was a challenge about whether the Broad patent application interfered with UCB filings (i.e. were the Broad filings already covered under the UCB filings). Fascinating read. Jan 4, 2021 at 19:42

Yes, Open Science Framework (OSF) allows you to save any kind of research ouput to obtain a timestamp. You can change the privacy setting so that your research output becomes a 'private project', invisible to the public.

  • But the OP does not want to share their result!
    – user151413
    Jan 4, 2021 at 18:56
  • 1
    Oh, I overlooked that. I changed the response, thank you @user151413!
    – anpami
    Jan 4, 2021 at 19:02

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