How to Protect Your Great Idea
It is not possible to protect ideas but rather the representation of that idea. To protect an original invention OR a significant improvement to an existing product, a patent would be filed. Click here for the USPTO's definition.
NOLO is a great, free informational site. Also, be sure to read what else the USPTO (United States Patent & Trademark Office) has to say about patents.
Associations may be a good avenue to explore. These organizations will address many of the thoughts, questions and concerns you'll inevitably have as well as many you haven't anticipated yet.
International Federation of Inventors' Associations
United Inventors Association
Directory of Local USA & Canada Groups
Research, research, research – this cannot be stressed enough. Read as much as you can. Check out the Amazon Widget to the right for recommended books. There are plenty of free informational resources out there.
Check out these articles:
Patent – How to Get One by Michael Russell
Invented Something? Get a Patent by Thomas Choo
How to Select a Patent Attorney by Lisa Parmley
How to Patent Your Invention by Neil Armand Can You Start Selling Your Invention Before Patenting It? by Xavier Pillai
Invention Help…Don't Get Scammed! by Emmet Press
Inventors: Make Sure Your Invention is a Success! by Lisa Parmley