This is not easy. But you must enter into a non=disclosure agreement with anyone to whom you would offer to review your invention. Respectfully, I don't care whether you think you have funds to pay for lawyers You cannot possibly do this without retaining legal counsel and others. If you do not have a budget for this, then you are wasting your time. Your first priority is to raise sufficient revenues so that you can retain professionals. Don't be fooled by people who ask you for a few hundred or thousands dollars to help you. The world does not work that way. If you want to succeed, first step is sufficient money and supporters for your project.
Yes and No. Yes, you may use a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) but how are you going to enforce it?, so, the answer is no.
USPTO Registered Patent Attorney, Master of Intellectual Property law, MBA I am neither your attorney, nor my answers or comments in AVVO.com create an attorney-client relationship with you. You may accept or disregard my free advice in AVVO.com at your own risk. I am a Patent Attorney, admitted to the USPTO and to the Florida Bar.
Q:"Is there a way to protect your item and start manufacturing /selling your product before patenting it."
Answer: Yes. Intellectual property rights. Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights each might do that if properly use. Go to law school for 4 years and then study a year for the patent bar exam and take and pass that and a state bar exam, and then study business law and become an intellectual property lawyer. Or, which most people elect to do, hire someone who has done that, an IP lawyer.
Q:"Unfortunately I do not have funds to pay lawyer fees as well as patent fees to protect my idea and was hoping there was a way to sell product while being somewhat protected so I can generate funds to pursue the correct actions of patenting my idea and protect it properly "
A: Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
– Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man
Hope or do. Hoping for protection is no substitute for getting protection. You are no substitute for an IP attorney. An individual would be committing fraud to practice law without a license for money. I would argue that you would be committing fraud on yourself if you try to protect your idea on your own.
If you do not have funds, work hard to get funds or borrow funds. Otherwise, your "system for parts" will not be protected and whatever you create can probably be taken by anyone who does have an IP attorney.
I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
I'm not sure whether you've come up with a "system" of doing something or a "product" for sale -- your question includes both. Be that as it may, know that "systems" of doing something only sometimes qualify for patent protection. On the other hand, products, as tangible doo-dads, are inherently patentable and can be patented if they meet certain criteria.
Because you cannot afford to hire a patent attorney the next best thing is to read "Patent It Yourself" by David Pressman [see the link below].
As a patent attorney, I know of NO SITUATION where a non-patent attorney can competently draft and file a patent application. The exception being a "provisional patent application" -- which is just a bit better than nothing if the inventor cannot afford to hire a patent attorney. So read the book and consider drafting and filing a provisional application. Do NOT draft and file a non-provisional application -- that is far over the head of anyone who is not a patent attorney. Good luck.
The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.