By Mrigank Mishra
If intellectual property (IP) was a rock band, then a patent would definitely be the lead singer. This is not to say they are better than other forms of IP, just the face of it, and an important one if applicable to your IP. An investor is more likely to be impressed with an IP portfolio with patents than without.
But it is a hard application to both file and be granted, requiring in-depth research and sometimes years before the US Patent and Trademark Organization (USPTO) actually reaches a decision. Considering the amount of work that goes into the process, it is not surprising the cost of filing a patent application is also comparatively higher than other forms of IP rights. Presently the cost is about $1,600. Compared to the $35 for a copyright, around $500–$1,000 for a trademark, and nothing at all for trade secrets (they are not registered), you can see the difference. (more…)
By Emily Ely
If you’re planning on patenting your idea, you should be careful in choosing which patent you apply for when protecting your inventions. There are many different kinds of patents, but most likely, you’ll be wanting to choose between a utility or design patent.
A design patent lasts for 14 years. This is subject to change, as are most laws. Design patents are mostly used for, well, designs! If you’re an architect and come up with a novel design for a new kind of Titanic that can’t be sunk, with unique features that no other ship currently possesses –then you should apply for a design patent. The design patent makes it illegal for anyone else but yourself to replicate your design, sell it, or use it for the whole fourteen years.
A utility patent lasts for 20 years. This is subject to change, just like the design patent. Utility patents are meant for inventions – so you’re trying to protect the actual mechanism of an invention. Utility patents protect the mechanism of the invention and its function, but it poorly protects its design. (more…)
Every small business should have a basic understanding of the laws that apply to protecting intellectual property. It is the only way a company will be able to protect their unique creations and ideas from competitors. There are four major ways a small business can obtain legal protection for intellectual property (IP).
This is business information that a company keeps secret. This information gives the small business an advantage over their competitors. It could be a device, method, formula and more. A trade secret example could be anything from the ingredients used in a food product, to the process used for creating an object. This cannot be protected by registering it. A small business must control access to this type of information. Companies must use Non-Disclosure Agreements, employment covenants and more to protect their trade secret.
A small business may have created literature to sell their product that should have copyright protection. Copyright protection could also include music, computer software and more. In theory, copyright protection occurs the minute the work in created. When a small business holds a copyright, they will be able to better prove their case if a copyright infringement lawsuit becomes necessary. Details of copyright registration can be found at the US Copyright office website. (more…)
Trademarks are an essential way to protect your intellectual property (IP) so you can market your goods and services under your brand. However, if you have ever gone through the trademark registration process, you know the challenges in trying to find out whether the idea is already protected. Trademark applications are not cheap and the cost of re-filing again and again is a wasted expense. To ensure the application is filed right the first time round, it can take up numerous resources and time that you may not have. Even then, you might miss information about a trademark that could eventually put you in danger of infringement.
With a new tool being designed that can help you find information faster, this process may be easier than ever. This digital tool, called TrademarkNow, has been searching for venture capitalists to get it on the market. It recently received a $3.5 million investment from a company called Balderton Capital that will ensure it is used by millions of businesses.
But how does it work? When hiring lawyers and taking more time seems a better research process, some might be skeptical of this new software. TrademarkNow touts the ability to gain instant results through its connected database of filed trademarks through the US Trademark Office. Their database connections are said to be error-free, so you can be sure of the results. That’s going to be essential when you have an overly creative name for your business you think isn’t being used anywhere else.
Yet, in a time when creative ideas are plentiful, the chances of your business name being used are more than good. It’s happened before, and it can sometimes be a David vs. Goliath situation if it’s a small business inadvertently violating a trademark for a larger company. Other times, it’s the other way around.
A system providing quicker trademark search was vastly needed because of the above situation. TrademarkNow also claims to be very easy to use so you don’t have to spend extra time learning it. They even stay away from using legalese so you can clearly understand the information it gives you. It’s all part of helping make your business life easier when protecting IP is becoming more necessary than ever.
Note: This blog was originally posted on traklight.com by Emily Ely on July 6, 2014.
Traklight is the only self-guided software platform that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs identify and protect their intellectual property. Traklight is an innovative software company with a mission to help educate and empower you to be proactive in identifying, protecting, and leveraging your ideas for your startup, invention, or business. Through the use of online IP identification tools and resources, Traklight users can protect their IP, and prevent infringement disputes and subsequent losses of large sums of money. Follow Traklight on Facebook, Twitter, or their blog.
“Intellectual property (IP) is one of the most important components of any business, and yet it is often one of the most neglected. Amidst the furor of innovation and the pressure of day-to-day operations, IP can get lost in the shuffle. But neglecting your IP won’t resolve the issue; in fact, it puts your business at increasing risk every day. So why should entrepreneurs care about IP?
IP is your most valuable asset – Every company has IP whether they know it or not. After all, every business starts with an idea. And while your physical assets show up on your balance sheet, it’s your intangible assets that can set your company apart. Innovative products and processes, creative designs, distinctive signs and branding, and trade secrets are all part of your IP portfolio. As the economy shifts more towards information technology and services, those intangible assets have never been more valuable.
Failing to protect your IP can be expensive – Imagine: You’ve come up with a fantastic new idea–something that will revolutionize how we consume cat videos posted online. You don’t want to wait another day to get started changing the world, so you put off filing patents and trademarks to another day. Unfortunately for you, the patent system is now first to file (not first to invent), and someone else has swooped in and filed for a nearly identical invention in the interim. Even worse, you’ve put considerable time, effort, and money into a project that now has to be scrapped. Filing early will help you avoid these headaches and help you raise capital; investors want to know that you own your IP.
Using others’ IP can be even more expensive – Don’t make the mistake of automatically assuming your idea is original and belongs to you. The USPTO website has a search feature for patents and trademarks that allows you to check if your idea is owned by another entity. Also, don’t assume you have the right to use something like an image pulled off the Internet just because you don’t see a copyright ©. Using images taken from the Internet without first reading the licensing can result in a lawsuit, and that’s a headache you can’t afford.
Taking the time to sit down to make sure your IP is defined and protected is vital for the growth of your business. Don’t think of it as time that could be spent doing other tasks; think of it as an investment in your company’s future.
Mary Juetten, Founder and CEO ofTraklight.com, developed the idea for Traklight while earning her JD and has leveraged 25+ years of business experience to globally launch Traklight in less than three years. Traklight is an innovative software company with a mission to help educate and empower you to be proactive in identifying, protecting, and leveraging your ideas for your startup, invention, or business. Through the use of online IP identification tools and resources, Traklight users can protect their IP, and prevent infringement disputes and subsequent losses of large sums of money. Follow Traklight on Facebook, Twitter, or their blog.