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?
What an accomplished feeling to learn that your novelty search revealed that your invention is patentable. However, will the USPTO agree? Hopefully, they will eventually grant you a patent, but anticipate the time it takes for this to happen and be prepared for the back and forth process of responding to Office Actions.
When you file a patent application at the USPTO, it’s assigned to a Patent Examiner about 3-4 years after filing the application. The Examiner will review the application for informalities and also conduct a prior art search to determine if the invention is patentable. A good prior art search conducted prior to filing the application can help your attorney to draft a strong patent application with patentable claims and it can also help you to anticipate any rejections. Once the application is rejected, the Applicant is given 3 months to respond to the Office Action. At this time, the Applicant can amend their claims and provide arguments to show why the invention is patentable. The response may not necessarily convince the Examiner the first time, but don’t give up! A skilled and qualified Patent Attorney can help you to interpret the Office Action and the Attorney can help you to create an action plan about how to overcome the rejection. If you hit a dead end with the Examiner, you can file an appeal and present your arguments to a panel of USPTO Judges.
Simply put, you can anticipate receiving an office action from the USPTO, but don’t be discouraged. Anytime worth having takes time!
How long did it take the USPTO to register your patent?
So, I have been so busy correcting mistakes! None of you should be Do-It-Yourself-ing (DIYing) your trademark applications. Here’s why! Most people do not understand the trademark application process, they don’t understand the protection they have when they secure a federal trademark, and they are unsure of how to enforce and police their trademarks.
What’s the top reason most people don’t hire an attorney to file their trademark application? LACK OF FUNDS! However, it may be wiser to save money to ensure the application is filed correctly, rather than gambling to secure trademark rights on your own! The attorneys at the United States Patent and Trademark Office are not your attorneys. They are very helpful, but it’s not their job to teach you how to navigate the system.
Remember: A trademark application is a legal document.
Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
Why do you think trademark applicants should hire a qualified trademark attorney?
Ready to take your business to the next level? Let’s talk about the perfect #pitch! Whether you like it or not, people are judging you and forming decisions about you within the first thirty seconds from the time that they meet you. People want to work with people that they like! So, if you’re in the corner at an event with your arms folded or have a smug look on your face, you’re not going to be approachable. Your body language is critical. If you’re not approachable, then you may miss out on a potential opportunity to connect and form a relationship with someone.
What is a pitch? Simply put, a pitch is just a presentation. A pitch is a sales presentation where your goal is, ultimately, to seal the deal or to at least get someone interested who will want to call you back and work with you, buy your product, or invest in whatever you’re trying to get them to invest in.
Answer these questions in your pitch:
The first thing you want to do when you make a pitch, is, and this sounds simple – understand what you’re trying to sale. Is that a product, is that a service? What is it, in sixty seconds? You have to be able to narrow your pitch down in really sixty seconds or less! It sounds cliché but, it’s doable. You can do it! This 60 second pitch is called an “elevator pitch” because if you’re riding up an elevator, maybe one floor and you need to capture someone’s attention and interest!
What is the problem that you’re trying to solve? You don’t want to start talking about a toy and then talk about the website company you own. People want to work with someone who’s focused. Why is your service or product special?
Once you offer your solution, don’t forget your call to action. So many people just pitch their products but they forget their call of action. What are your expectations and wants? A call of action can simply be a question or a statement.
What is the best advice you received that helped you make the perfect pitch?
What is networking? Networking is casting your NET and WORKING so that you close the holes of your net! Wouldn’t it be great if you could just launch a business and have customers lined up out of the door so that you sell out of your inventory the first day of sales? It’s not impossible, if a plan is in place. Too often, businesses are launched with no set plan. Too often, business owners don’t take advantage of their network and they don’t take the necessary steps to build a network.
Take note of the following to build your network:
- Love Yourself and Love Your Brand.
- Shine Bright Like a Diamond.
- Sell Ice to an Eskimo.
- Create Innovative Ways to Build Your Brand and Audience.
- Earn Respect & Earn Referrals
Click on this graphic for more specific details:
WHAT’S THE BEST NETWORKING ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED?
After the mark registers on the Principal Register at the USPTO, you are required to maintain that trademark.
Hopefully, this is not news to you if you’re a trademark owner! The beauty of trademark protection is trademarks last as long as you use them and maintain them. Once you get a trademark registration, it’s up to you to keep it LIVE. So, what does that mean? That means maintaining. Also, it’s important to enforce your mark! Don’t just sit back and allow other people to use your name – ACT on it! Be sure to consult with a qualified Trademark Attorney before you start drafting those cease and desist letters, for example, because because you don’t want to jeopardize your rights.
Also, it is important to file post-registration documents. They need to be filed timely. Between the fifth and sixth year after you get a Federal registration, you’re required file documents at the USPTO to let them know that you have continuously used that trademark and to let them you are still using the mark. Now, the key words are “continuous use!” Don’t try to get a trademark and then use it, stop using it for a couple of years and then use it again. OH MY!
Trademark use needs to be continuous and not intermittent use.
Also, between that fifth and sixth year period, you can actually make your mark incontestable! That’s right! So, after you obtain a federal registration with the USPTO, calendar maintenance dates to ensure you don’t miss them!
What tools are you using to ensure you maintain your federal trademark?
Ready to learn more about the trademark timeline? Now, what exactly is the trademark timeline? The trademark timeline is what will happen after a trademark application is filed.
First, it’s important to be clear on what you can file at the USPTO to get federal trademark protection. A trademark is a source identifier. This can be an expression, a word, symbol, scent, sound, shape, or color that is used to identify your goods or services.
Once a trademark application is filed, it can take 3-4 months before the application is assigned to a Trademark Examining Attorney. The Trademark Examining Attorney’s job is to determine if your trademark application has any issues and to review your mark to determine if it’s likely to cause confusion with a confusingly similar mark. Your mark may also be highly descriptive or worse, generic! If there is an issue, the Examining Attorney will issue an office action and allow you six months to respond to the action. If the Examiner’s review determines that the application has no issues, the mark will be published in the Official Gazette for third parties to challenge the mark. If no third parties challenge the mark, then the USPTO will register the mark. YAY!
In a nutshell, the average time to complete this process is about 1 year. Often people assume the process is shorter and call attorneys in a panic to get a mark registered.
How long did it take the USPTO to register your mark?
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?
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