An ongoing series of informational entries

Blog Post #3!

October 9, 2019

Deciphering legalese:

Patents, Trademark, Copyrights and Trade Secrets: OH MY!


We have already talked about the basics of patents and trademarks, but now let’s take a better look at the differences between the main types of intellectual property.


What is a patent?


     Who here has had a genius idea for a new product or way to do something? Think you will be on the next Shark Tank? The investors on the famous tv show generally always ask the inventors if there is a patent or patent pending. So, what is a patent and why is it such an important issue for inventors and investors?


A patent is a right conferred by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention in the United States or importing the invention into the United States. Having this right keeps the competition at bay and can give your invention significant value. If someone copies your patented invention then you can sue them in federal court for infringement.


      The latest wonder drug on the market, every model of cell phone, medical devices, kids toys, kitchen gadgets, apps on your phone, and everything in between are all patentable inventions.


What is a trademark?


     You have come up with a clever name for your invention, how do you keep others from copying it? Sounds like it’s time to apply to for a trademark. A trademark is a word, symbol or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others.


     If you have started a business and come up with a name or logo to make you stand out from your competitors, a trademark (typically called a servicemark under these circumstances) can also help you keep others from using the same name or logo for the same or similar business.


     Think of brands like Nike or Reebok, the words and symbols that they use. Yahoo! Or Google. All of these names and their logos mean something to us and help these brands stand out from their competition.


What is a copyright?


     You have written a song or music, a poem, a book, created a painting or a piece of sculpture, now how do protect it from being copied by others? Upon creation of your original work, you automatically have the rights to your work. A copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorships” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual property works, both published and unpublished. Registering your work with the federal copyright office affords you protection and the ability to get financial damages from someone who copies your work without permission.


       Taylor Swift®, in addition to trademarking her own name, has been in the news lately battling copyright infringement of her songs as well as trademark infringement of the names of her songs.


What is a trade secret?


     Have a secret brownie recipe or know an algorithm to determine the best brownie recipe? Famous examples of trade secrets are the formula for Coca Cola or the Colonel’s Fried Chicken Recipe. A trade secret is information, which a company tries to keep confidential because it affords them economic advantage over their competitors. Trade secrets can be formulas, patterns, compilation, programs, device, methods, techniques, or processes.

      

     There can be some overlap of all of the above. A company might want to consider whether or not to apply for a patent on an invention because the patent will be available to the public after the patent expires, where a trade secret can exist forever if successfully kept confidential.


     I hope that cleared up some of the fog of the various types of intellectual property protections out there. Feel free to call us with any questions!


Blog Post #2!

October 2, 2019

5 Basic Facts about Trademarks


1. A trademark is a symbol, word, or words established by use or legally registered to represent a good or service. Think of the Nike swoosh, the apple symbol on Apple devices, and other famous brand names.


2. Registering a trademark affords the exclusive right to use the mark in the specific industry or area of commerce related to the mark.


3. Trademarks are sometimes also referred to as ‘marks’ or ‘service mar​ks.’ Trademarks typically refer to source of goods or products. Service marks refer to the source of services offered under the mark.


4. The types of goods or services are divided up into separate class numbers for the purposes of registration. Chemical products are in international class (IC) 1; clothing products are in IC 25; advertising, business and retail services are in IC 35. There are a total of 45 separate classes.


5. Marks can be registered in multiple classes and for both goods and services. Registering a mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) affords users the right to put the ® symbol on their mark. Marks can also be registered with a state's Secretary of State office. 


Our First Blog Entry!!!

July 25, 2019

5 Basic Facts About Patents

1. A patent affords you the right to exclude others from making, selling, using, or importing your claimed invention without your authorization.


2. You have to enforce your patent. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) do not take action to enforce your patent against infringers. If someone is infringing upon your patent then you can sue them for patent infringement in federal court. Many times a settlement is reached before court proceedings conclude. 


There are three main types of patents: Utility, Design, and Plant patents.


3. A utility patent covers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any improvement thereof. A utility patent can last up to 20 years from the earliest filing date related to the invention.


4. A design patent covers any new and non-obvious ornamental design of an article, but not its structural or functional features. A design patent can last up to 15 years from the date the patent is granted.


5. A plant patent covers a newly discovered and asexually reproduced, distinct and new variety of plant. A plant patent can last up to 20 years from the filing date. 


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