Are you ready?
How exciting? You’re minding your own business and then, it hits you! Your “aha” moment. I’m referring to that moment when you realize that you’ve come up with a better way to do something. You have figured out a way to make it easier! Great!
Then, you call your favorite patent attorney to tell me the news :-). You ask, “Andrea, I’ve improved something, now what?” First, we need to determine if your invention is patentable. Is your improvement useful? Is it novel? Is it non-obvious? Conduct a patent search using the USPTO database or free tools like Google Patents. If you find an exact version of your invention, you know it’s not patentable. However, seek the help of a professional to help you to interpret if your invention is non-obvious. Your consultation will be more effective if you bring references of interest to discuss.
Your improvement may be patentable. Maybe your improvement is the next big thing!
You know what they say about assumptions, right? You make an #$@.. You get my point! Well, keep reading so you don’t make assumptions that can jeopardize your patent, trademark or copyright rights. First, there’s no percent rule! Congratulations on your invention but never ask a patent attorney, what percent you need to change an invention to get a patent. The standard to get a patent is that the invention needs to be useful and solve a problem, the invention needs to be novel and the invention needs to be non-obvious. Have you searched high and low for your invention in every store and you can’t seem to find it on the shelves? Don’t assume that if you haven’t seen your invention in the store, you can patent it. Some inventions are patented but never manufactured and sold. It’s best to seek the help of a patent attorney to conduct a search to determine if your invention is patentable.
Don’t assume that if you own a domain name, you own a trademark and vice versa. If the domain name is used as an address rather than a source identifier, the domain name doesn’t function as a trademark. Be careful sending out cease and desist letters to third parties! First, don’t assume that if someone is using your trademark that their use is improper. Also, don’t assume that you have senior rights over their use. It’s best to seek the help of a qualified trademark attorney to research the potential infringement and strength of your trademark.
Are you copying and pasting pictures from the internet? Are you assuming that if the image is on the internet it’s free to use? You may be liable for copyright infringement. This applies to text on the internet. Even if credit is given to a third party for their content, you can be liable for infringement. It’s better to ask for permission or license the content.
I’m assuming that none of these apply to you! 🙂
What are some other common assumptions inventors and entrepreneurs make?
Great! You’ve invented the next best thing and now you’re ready to tell the world. Slow down! Did you know that if you disclose your invention to others you may lose the right to file a patent application to secure patent protection for your invention? Once you disclose your invention, you have one year to file a patent application or your disclosure is considered giving your invention away to the public. If you’re just dying to tell someone about your great idea, consult a patent attorney! The consultation or discussion with a patent attorney doesn’t start the clock and a consultation is a great start to learn more about how to protect your idea and ensure you fully understand your options.
Also, a consultation is a great time to discuss any prior art that you may have found after you conducted your own. Wait? You didn’t do any research? This is one of the biggest mistakes inventors make! Take a few minutes to research your invention. Use free resources such as uspto.gov, google.com/patents and even conduct a simple word search on Google. If you uncover your invention, you know your invention is not patentable. If you are unsure of how to interpret the prior art, a patent attorney can help you determine if the invention is patentable.
Remember, the early bird gets the worm and the first to file gets an early filing date! Of course, you want to file a patent application to ensure you’re the first to file, but don’t make mistakes that may jeopardize your patent rights!
What are other ways you can jeopardize your patent rights?
You know what they say about assumptions, right? Too often, people make assumptions about patents, trademarks, copyright.
Intellectual property (IP) is divided into three types, patents, trademarks and copyrights. First, patents protect inventions. Trademarks protect the names of those inventions. Copyrights protect written materials. Be certain that when you are consulting with an attorney or investor about your intellectual property, you are able to speak intelligently. Expressions such as, “Oh, I want to patent my brand” or “I want to trademark my invention” sound like fingernails going across a chalkboard to an IP attorney.
Avoid making assumptions to ensure:
- You don’t waste your time consulting an attorney on something that you don’t own the rights to.
- You don’t spend unnecessary funds and invest them in your IP wisely.
Patents are a type of intellectual property that protect inventions. If you want to find out more about patents, you can visit to www.uspto.gov (United States Patent & Trademark Office). They do a great job of providing generic and free information. Don’t forget to consult with a qualified IP attorney to discuss your specific issue. Remember, Google is not your lawyer! LOL!
THERE IS NO PERCENT RULE
Inventors often ask, “What percent do I need to change the invention so that I can get a patent?” Often, inventors assume that they can invent something or that they can patent something by changing a percent of something that already exists. That is one of the biggest assumptions that people make and it’s very wrong.
Here’s the truth about patentable inventions:
- When you invent something, the invention is required to be useful and solves a problem.
- The invention is required to be novel or new. If you notice that something already exists that’s identical to what you’re doing, even if that person has not filed a patent application on that invention, you can’t file it because your invention is not patentable.
- The invention must be non-obvious. That is, would it be obvious to one of the ordinary skilled within the art, to take what’s out there and combine it to make the invention.
For example, changing the size, shape, color, material or attaching a button instead of a zipper on something are typically obvious changes such that an invention would not be patentable.
What is another patent assumption you’ve heard?
HELLO 2020! Happy New Year! Have you set your intellectual property resolutions? That’s right! Add intellectual property to your 2020 goals…Protection? Enforcement? Policing? What will you accomplish this year?
Are you prioritizing the wrong things in your business? We are all given 24 hours in a day. People often ask entrepreneurs how they accomplish so much in one day. It sounds cliche but it’s simple. Successful entrepreneurs prioritize their time. If you are not setting daily realistic goals during the day, you could be wasting valuable time. Of course, time is money. If you’re an entrepreneur and you aren’t making money, then you’re not making sense and cents!
You actually may be setting goals but you may be aiming for the wrong goals or even unrealistic goals. It’s critical to look at your goals and identify what steps need to be taken to accomplish your goals. After you set a goal, identify the tasks required to complete reach that goal. Then, identify how much time it will take to complete that tasks and actually subtract that from your 8-10 hour work day. It is so rewarding to actually remove an item from your to-do list. It’s better to end a work day on a high note than to start your day working on an unfinished task.
What’s your secret to maximizing your day?
Having a trademark attorney by your side can prevent you from getting into a legal conflict with other trademark owners. Your attorney can research for you and ensure your trademark doesn’t infringe on other trademark rights BEFORE you invest money in a brand that will have issues.
If you are accused of trademark infringement, it is critical to have a trademark attorney that is skilled and experienced in trademark law to help you to navigate the trademark process.
Researching your trademark is critical!