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A laboratory notebook, when organized efficiently and updated daily, can often mean the difference between gaining recognition for your invention or not. According to U.S. Patent Law, inventorship is determined by the first to invent, rather than the the first to file. (Conversely, foreign patent offices determine inventorship by the first to file method.) Therefore, your lab notebook is the essential factor in crediting you for your work.
Keeping this in mind, an inventor must remember to include the following when keeping a lab notebook:
- Use a bound notebook
- Use consecutive pages
- Use permanent ink
- Date entries
- Identify subject matter
- Include and explain sketches, diagrams, etc.
- Photos, drawings, etc. should be identified and attached
- Avoid erasures
- Make new entries; do not alter existing entries
- Have entries witnessed on a daily or weekly basis by a person who is familiar with the science but would not be considered a co-inventor
- Provide proper storage