When you intend on discussing your invention in depth with a third party, make sure they agree to keep the content of your discussion confidential. Also consider having them sign a non-disclosure agreement drafted by a Patent Attorney. If you are sending emails or documents containing descriptions of your inventions, be sure to label all emails and documents as “confidential.”
Keep negotiations to sell your invention to third parties on a preliminary basis until you file for a patent or provisional patent. Estimates ñ such as quoting price estimates, quantity estimates, and delivery time estimates ñ are not a problem so long as the third party has the understanding that it cannot submit an order for the item immediately.
Provide your patent attorney with sufficient advance notice before disclosing or offering to your idea or offering to sell. The Patent Attorney will be able to advise you that, for example, although the US allows you to make public disclosures within a grace-period before filing for patent (12 months), many foreign countries will prevent you from obtaining a patent once a disclosure or offer to sell is made anywhere in the world. Whenever a disclosure or offer to sell your invention is made, contact a patent attorney, as soon as possible, so that you can intelligently decide to file a patent in the U.S. before the one year deadline.
If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.
Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.