Most Counterfeit Categories

Products Most Likely to be Counterfeited

  • Have you ever been tempted by a Rolex with a price that seemed too good to be true?
  • What about a Coach handbag with an unbelievable price tag?

With the proliferation of websites that empower third-party sellers, it has become increasingly common to see counterfeit goods flooding the marketplace.

Unfortunately, counterfeit products are more harmful than most people realize. When people choose to purchase a knock-off as opposed to the real thing, then American businesses are hurt through the loss of considerable revenue. Moreover, consumers run the risk of being injured by inferior and faulty electronic parts and other unsafe goods.

If you are an inventor or manufacturer, then you may already be aware of the dangers posed by counterfeit goods. If you are a consumer, then it pays for you to be informed with regard to the product categories in which you are most likely to be enticed by seemingly attractive dupes.

Handbags and Wallets

Upscale handbag and wallet brands such as Hermes and Coach have been plagued by counterfeits for years. Today, these knock-offs are mostly sold online. However, this business used to be conducted by New York City’s Canal Street manufacturers.

For the most part, it’s easy to spot knock-offs when it comes to brands like Fendi, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, but Hermes is different. While most counterfeits are poorly constructed and easy to spot, there was a conspiracy among Hermes employees to sell carefully made handbags that were almost indiscernible from the genuine article. Fortunately, this lucrative scheme has been terminated by authorities.

Apple Accessories

Everything from power adaptors to chargers is liable to be counterfeit. Back in 2016, Apple began warning consumers about the hazards represented by power adaptors that appeared to be genuine but were not. These products were spread across eBay and Amazon, and Apple ultimately sued a company known as Mobile Star after determining that they were selling bogus power adaptors. Unfortunately, Mobile Star was not the only bad actor.

Fake chargers also are widely available on the marketplace. The 2018 seizure of a shipment of knock-off Apple chargers in New York revealed that the bogus electronic equipment had a 99-percent failure rate. Additionally, improper insulation and faulty construction meant that these devices were a serious fire risk and put people in danger of electrocution.

Anything Disney

For years now, Disney has been given massive headaches by Chinese manufacturers. The good news for Disney is that they are a powerful and wealthy enterprise. This means that they are better endowed than most companies to fight the fakes being produced in China.

The Chinese government is trying to put the brakes on manufacturers of fakes too. They launched a special initiative in 2016 to help stem the tide of fake Disney merchandise. The effort paid off, but there are so many other traffickers in fake Disney goods that it ultimately did not solve the problem.

Jewelry

From Rolex to Cartier, knock-offs are a huge problem in the jewelry business. In fact, Rolex counterfeiters have gotten so good that TechCrunch began referring to them as superfakes. These knock-offs were so good that it was even difficult for experts to tell the difference between them and the real thing.

Similar problems have occurred with the famous Cartier Love bracelets. Cartier is itself one of the most frequently counterfeited brands, and there is a proliferation of websites on which Cartier dupes are sold.

In particular, the Love bracelet is a favorite among knock-off artists. While the real thing is quite heavy and expertly crafted, fakes are lightweight and the shoddy craftsmanship shows.

Shoes

When it comes to shoes, athletic brands like Nike Air Jordans and super fashionable items like Yeezy’s are the most likely to be counterfeited.

Experts believe that Nike is probably the most faked brand in the world, with the Air Jordan line representing the most lucrative possibilities.

While Amazon is the most likely place to find counterfeit shoes, Instagram’s Checkout feature gave rise to a flood of dupes of Yeezy’s by Kanye West. The popular sneakers are among the favorite counterfeit items on the platform.

What Is Amazon Doing?

Amazon is one of the largest online purveyors of counterfeit goods thanks to its inclusion of third-party sellers. This is forcing the retail giant to enact measures to combat the counterfeiters.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced the establishment of a Counterfeit Crime Unit that was tasked with fighting the millions of counterfeit listings that the website publishes each year.

The Crime Unit is being asked to identify wrongdoers and bring legal action against them. This is done with the hope of preventing further fakes from making it to the site in the future.

In order for the effort to succeed, it’s essential that brands and consumers offer their full cooperation.

Concerned About Counterfeits?

Are you an inventor or manufacturer who is worried about knock-offs? If so, then schedule a consultation with Williams IP Law to explore your options for fighting back.

What is the right of publicity?

Have you ever seen Tony Romo in a Gatorade ad? How about George Clooney in a commercial for Nespresso?

If so, then you can bet that these uses of a celebrity’s face and personality were negotiated, and that the celebrity received a large payday. Many companies in a swath of industries are willing to pay big bucks to get the right celebrity to endorse their product.

However, have you ever wondered what happens when someone uses a photo of a celebrity to sell a product without that individual’s permission? If this happens, then the wronged celebrity may be able to bring legal action against the company. This is when a little-known legal principal called the right of publicity comes into play.

What is the right of publicity? Does it apply only to famous folks or could you have a claim if someone uses your likeness without your permission?

The answers can be complicated. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is the Right of Publicity?

The right of publicity refers to the individual’s right to have control over the commercial exploitation of their persona or name. Most frequently, this principal is associated with famous people because it’s most often their personas that are used to promote products.

The right of publicity only covers commercial exploitation. If a newspaper or magazine wants to print an article and photograph about a celebrity, this doesn’t fall under the right of publicity. This is why gossip magazines and websites can exist. Of course, people who become the subjects of untruthful or misleading articles in these media have the right to sue for defamation.

Essentially, if a person’s likeness is used for public interest, information or news, this is a permissible use and is not a violation of the right of publicity.

While the right of publicity is most often associated with celebrities, it can apply to a private citizen. As an example, imagine that your picture was snapped without your knowledge while you were drinking a bottle of a famous brand of soda. If the soda company used your photo to promote their product without your permission, they could be liable for misappropriation of the right of publicity.

Avoiding this kind of problem is why actors and models who are used in advertisements are asked to sign releases or consents that allow the use of their image or other likeness.

Related to the Right of Privacy

The right of publicity is related to the right of privacy. In general, the principles of invasion of privacy are designed to prohibit the use of a person’s likeness or name to gain some sort of advantage.

However, an independent claim may be made when an individual’s likeness or name is appropriated for commercial purposes. Although the right of publicity is most frequently associated with famous people, it also is true that any individual possesses the right to prevent the unauthorized use of their image or name to sell a product.

It is worth noting that the right of publicity effectively grants a property right to each individual’s identity, whereas the right of privacy is designed to protect people from the emotional anguish that may arise from the open publication of private matters that may be intimate, embarrassing or portray the individual in falsely offensive manner.

Who Does the Right of Publicity Affect?

While most of these cases are related to “celebrities,” the precise definition of celebrity is purposefully vague. For instance, a person may be well-known in Texas, but does it follow that they are famous across the US? What about a person who was famous for being on a television show in the 1980s? Are they a celebrity after not working in the entertainment field for 30 years?

Currently, there is no federal law with regard to the right of publicity. This means that each state is responsible for related legislation. Some states, like Texas, have right of publicity laws on the books, but other jurisdictions rely on common law and statutory law to protect the individual’s right of publicity.

Similarly, some states only protect the right of publicity for famous individuals while all individuals are protected in other states.

What About the First Amendment?

First Amendment protection is granted in tiers, with the most protection being granted to news. Less protection is offered to uses of a person’s identity for fiction, and even less protection is given to the advertising use of a person’s likeness or name.

Accordingly, people can be mentioned in the news in a factual manner without running afoul of the First Amendment or the right of publicity. It’s even possible to use a real person within a work of fiction, like a novel, as long as it’s made clear that the overall work is fiction.

The Right of Publicity and Distinctive Voices

It’s not just a person’s image or name that may be protected under the right of publicity. Two cases involving sound-alike performers who imitated Bette Midler and Tom Waits both found that the singers had the right to control the use of their distinctive voices – even if it wasn’t them providing the voice work.

Contact Williams IP Law

If you’re hoping to get a celebrity to endorse your product or are curious about what’s involved when you feel that your image has been used for a commercial purpose without your permission, then contact Williams IP Law for efficient, common-sense solutions.

Do I need to copyright my website?

Everyone Has a Website

Whether you build a website for personal or business reasons, chances are good that you pour your heart and soul into it. After all, that website is a reflection of you, and it also may be the first contact that your customers have with your business.

After putting so much time and effort into building your website, it makes sense to protect it. This doesn’t occur to many website owners, with the result that they are unable to recover damages when someone else steals their content.

Copyright Content

All of the content that you add to your website is either originally created by you or was created by someone else, like a contractor or employee, who was working for you. This means that you now own that content, whether it’s pages that describe who you are and what you do, blog posts or something else entirely.

Whatever that content is, you own it, and this means that you have the right to prevent others from using it without your permission. When you do see that someone has used your website content without asking you first, a registered copyright gives you the ability to pursue legal remedies.

Automatic Copyright Laws

You may have heard that copyright protection in the U.S. is automatic. This is true. In fact, anything that you fix in tangible form, like a drawing or a recording, enjoys automatic copyright protection in America.

However, this automatic copyright doesn’t necessarily go far enough when it comes to protecting your website’s content. Plagiarism on the Internet is rampant. Plenty of bad actors are out there who will simply copy your content or photographs and paste them onto their own website.

What can you do if this happens?

In this situation, it is best to have a federally registered copyright for your website and all of its content, which includes text, photos and other images. A formal registration demonstrates the date of creation of the content, enabling you to prove beyond a doubt that you are the originator and/or owner of the content.

What Federal Copyright Registration Provides

When you register your copyright, you are formally demonstrating your authorship of the content. If you hired someone to create some or all of your website content for you, then it makes sense to enter into formal agreements with these individuals in which they legally assign their rights in the created material to you. This usually helps to prevent later disputes should they ever arise.

Additionally, when you have registered your copyright, you have the right to pursue a civil lawsuit against an infringer. When a website is under a federal copyright, then the website’s owner may have the ability to claim statutory damages in addition to attorney’s fees if a lawsuit becomes necessary.

Copyright Notice

Whether you pursue a federal copyright registration or not, it is always sensible to include a copyright notice on each page of your website. Usually, such notices appear at the bottom of the page, and they may be as simple as “Copyright 2020.” Other possible copyright notices include ” © 2020″ or “All rights reserved.”

Still other appropriate copyright notices for websites include the name of the company or the individual who owns the website. As an example, the notice may read: “Copyright 2020, the ABC Company.”

While adding copyright notices to your website is not a requirement even if you federally register your copyrights, it is wise to do so to inform any visitors with bad intentions that you are aware of your rights and will defend them.

Ask an Intellectual Property Attorney for Assistance

Are you creating your first website or are you already the owner of several websites and just recently became aware that someone has stolen some of your content? In either situation, it’s wise to contact the Williams IP Law Office in Texas.

Jeffrey Williams helps clients with determining whether or not to federally register a copyright for various content on their websites. Moreover, Jeff can provide assistance with drawing up the various formal agreements that may be needed to ensure that the rights to website content are properly assigned from the author to the website’s owner.

Copyrighting website content in the U.S. is neither particularly difficult nor expensive, but it can be instrumental when it comes to protecting your work from infringement. If you’re serious about ensuring that others cannot take advantage of your hard work, then contact Williams IP Law.

Who Actually Invented the Light Bulb: Edison vs Swan vs Tesla

Ask any child, and he will probably tell you that Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb.

It’s a good story; one that relies on a popular myth of American individualistic invention. However, it’s definitely not the whole story.

In reality, the incandescent light bulb was the result of contributions from hundreds of inventors across the decades. Each one made certain improvements and refinements until, at last, there was an incandescent light bulb that made bringing electricity into the homes of billions of people possible.

Here is a brief look at some of the individuals who contributed to this effort.

Swan’s Light Bulb

Joseph Swan was just one inventor who made improvements in light bulb technology. He was working as a chemist in England in the middle of the nineteenth century when he began development of a more affordable light bulb. His invention replaced the previously used platinum filaments with carbonized paper filaments.

Unfortunately, for Swan, it turned out that while his carbonized paper filaments worked fairly well for demonstration purposes, they were not practical for everyday use. They simply burned out too quickly

The good news is that other inventors were waiting to make improvements to the light bulb.

Edison’s Light Bulb

We’ve already established that light bulbs were in existence even before Edison was born. One of his innovations was built directly on Joseph Swan’s incandescent light bulb.

Edison made the filaments thinner, giving them greater electrical resistance and ensuring that only a small amount of current was needed to create a glow. In 1879, Edison publicly demonstrated his refinements, which Swan quickly adopted. Swan then established an electrical lighting company in the U.K.

Edison sued, but the claims in Swan’s U.K. patent were strong. The two joined forces, forming Edison-Swan United and eventually becoming one of the largest light bulb manufacturers in the world.

In effect, Edison is credited with buying the patent for an incandescent light bulb. With these rights acquired, he was able to make improvements to the design that made it possible to provide electric light to the general public. Moreover, Edison was the consummate self-promoter, which enabled him to claim that he was solely responsible for the development of the light bulb.

Nonetheless, Edison was confronted with the massive problem of actually bringing electricity into American homes.

Tesla, the Light Bulb and Electric Current

Nikola Tesla was born in Europe in 1856. He emigrated to the U.S., where Edison sought him out in hopes of working together. Tesla helped bring new innovations to Edison’s inventions, but their working relationship didn’t last for long.

It appears that the two men disagreed on any number of topics. However, their most famous point of disagreement related to electric current. Edison was wholeheartedly behind the idea that direct current, or DC, was the way to bring electricity into homes.

Tesla believed that DC was insufficient and weak. Instead, he advocated for alternating current, or AC. With his invented induction motor, Tesla felt that it was possible sustain and regulate higher voltages using AC.

Edison and Tesla became embroiled in a nasty fight to prove the worthiness of their theories. In the end, it was Tesla who would triumph, and his AC system would be used to electrify America.

Conclusion

So, who actually invented the light bulb? The reality is that today’s light bulb is the result of countless hours of testing, trial and error by hundreds of different inventors over the course of more than 100 years.

Whether your invention is as revolutionary and necessary as the light bulb or has limited application within a particular industry, your innovation is worth protecting. Speak with an attorney from Williams IP Law to learn about all of the options that are available to you.

Why Intellectual Property Should be Protected

Many businesses have some kind of asset that they would like to protect. It may be a new gadget that everyone will want to buy or a process that makes life easier or safer. Additionally, if you’re using a name, logo or tagline to identify your goods or services, then it just makes sense to protect that mark with an official registration.

All of these assets are a form of intellectual property. When you invent a new product or process, then it’s sensible to protect that innovation by pursuing a patent. Maybe it’s wise to cover the code for your software with a copyright. Registering a trademark for the name of your product is one more common-sense measure that most entrepreneurs believe is essential to their success.

Have you invented a new product or process? Are you planning to sell your new gadget under a unique name? If so, then you probably have intellectual property that is worth protecting.

If this is your first foray into owning intellectual property, then you may not be certain why obtaining a patent or registering a trademark is necessary. The benefits of protecting your IP may not be obvious at first, but once you learn more about the rights that are granted to you as the holder of a patent, trademark or copyright, you’ll begin to see the value.

Protecting IP Lets You Keep Your Ideas

When you have a great idea, it’s only natural that others will want to copy it. However, when you hold a patent, trademark or copyright on your innovation, then you have the right to prevent others from infringing on your idea.

Holding a patent gives you the right to pursue legal remedies if you see that a competitor is using your invention on their products. Similarly, if someone is trying to sell a knock-off product with a logo that is confusingly similar to yours, then a registered trademark affords you a variety of legal protections. The same is true with copyrights. You can prevent other people from using your protected material when you have obtained an official copyright registration.

Protect the Growth of Your Business

When competitors steal your ideas or sell their products using a trademark that is confusingly similar to yours, then your bottom line may suffer. This is especially troubling for a new business that’s just trying to get off the ground. You’re attempting to establish your product and get people to notice it. With a nefarious actor out there, they are certain to steal some of your market share.

However, when you have carefully preserved your IP rights, then you have several legal remedies available to you. In fact, if you work with a qualified intellectual property attorney, you’ll have an ally who can help you keep an eye on competitors who may be engaging in infringing or unfair practices.

IP Can Be Security for Loans

Both new and established businesses may benefit from an influx of capital at various times. That’s because tasks such as research and development can be incredibly expensive and time-consuming. Investing in these costly tasks is less risky when you have the prospect of holding a monopoly on your IP, at least for a limited time.

If your organization is in need of capital to develop your idea or bring it to the market, then protecting your IP is critical to obtaining the money you need. Investors prefer to see that the project into which their money is going is protected by patents, trademarks and copyrights to better ensure an enhanced market share. Moreover, when you hold official IP rights, investors believe that your project is less risky and more likely to succeed.

When you protect your IP, you’re really protecting your business. It’s the best way to prevent others from wrongfully benefitting from your great ideas. After all, the inspiration was yours and you poured plenty of sweat into its development. Don’t you deserve to reap the benefits of all of your hard work?

Contact Williams IP Law to learn more about how you can protect your business by protecting your intellectual property. Obtaining protection via patents, trademarks and copyrights will help you to hold on to your ideas and grow your business.

How COVID-19 in Shaping Patent Law and Important Changes

As the Coronavirus spreads across the globe, scientists realized that this was an unknown virus. The medical tools that might be used to detect, treat and prevent it don’t exist.

Developing new tests and treatments requires time and money. Moreover, it’s necessary for these innovations to be tested and attain approval from the FDA or other agencies.

Here’s a look at some of the patent-related efforts that are underway to fight COVID-19.

What is the Facilitating Innovation to Fight Coronavirus Act?

Recently, a bill was drafted in the U.S. Its goal is removing barriers to inventing medical interventions that may be able to prevent or treat COVID-19.

Legal analysts tend to agree that the proposed legislation is a hodgepodge of laudable ideas and unintended consequences. The proposed act contains two sections, the first of which protects individuals from liability lawsuits arising from Coronavirus treatments.

The second section suspends the patent rights of certain medical products and provides a 10-year patent term extension beginning after the pandemic.

Analysts tend to see little problem with the first section, but the second one is causing concern. Critics feel that it’s just too vague. Biomedical firms heavily invest in new products. They bear these expenses because of the exclusivity that’s granted to them through a patent, which means that they may recoup their costs.

Unfortunately, the proposed legislation is too vague about how a new patent application that covers relevant technology would be treated. Does the clock on its term not start until the end of the pandemic, and then is the patent eligible for an additional 10 years?

If the law passes as written, it would mean that the inventors no longer had “exclusive” rights, which is one of the primary reasons why patents are pursued. Moreover, inventors would have to worry about infringing actions occurring at a time when they should enjoy perfect exclusivity.

How will patent owners re-establish exclusivity when the pandemic is over? The invention will have entered the public domain, making this a potentially impossible task.

Hopefully, this bill will be clarified before being adopted.

Patent Protections and Relaxation During the Pandemic

The relaxation of patent protections is occurring around the world In Israel, the government wants to made use of Abbvie’s drug known as Kaletra to treat COVID-19, but there isn’t enough of it in the country. Abbvie held patents in several countries for Kaletra, many of which have which expired.

Their Israeli patent is still in force, so that government is looking at obtaining generic Kaletra from another country, such as India, where the patent has expired.

In response, Abbvie announced that they would cease patent enforcement with regard to Kaletra, paving a cooperative way forward.

This approach makes sense in the case of a drug that’s near the end of its patentable life. Nonetheless, it’s vital that governments always consult with patent holders before looking for ways around their rights.

Lengthening Patent Terms and its Effect on Innovators

Governments are seeking to prevent innovators from profiteering from Coronavirus. They mainly are accomplishing this by passing legislation that allows them to produce any patented item that might help in the fight.

The U.S. government’s approach is different. The Coronavirus-relief bills provide billions of dollars’ worth of public research money to federal agencies to develop treatments and vaccines. Is it ethical for a government agency to receive an additional 10-year patent term on life-saving treatments or vaccines that should be freely available?

Many critics don’t think so, citing the stance taken by Jonas Salk when he developed the polio vaccine. Salk declared that his innovation needed to be owned by the public, and people say that the same approach should apply here.

Will the thought of not having the exclusive right to profit from a vaccine or treatment stop innovators? It’s possible, but there’s hope that an altruistic spirit will motivate the right inventors to find a cure.

COVID-19 Innovations & Keeping Your IP Safe

Despite the current uncertainty with regard to patent protection for Coronavirus-related technologies, it’s wise to seek patent protection. With shortages of items like face masks and medicines, there’s a proliferation of adulterated or counterfeit goods. Pursuing a patent gives you the right to prevent this.

In the spirit of cooperation, educational institutions, government agencies and biomedical firms are pledging to make their COVID-19 research freely available without enforcing patent rights. Whether your invention helps to stop the pandemic or not, contact Williams IP Law to discuss how to protect your IP.

Intellectual Property Search Basics

Patent Protection

It’s important to remember that the patent search is only one step in a much longer process. If the results of the search are favorable, then drafting the patent application may begin.

The inventor is by no means required to immediately pursue patent protection after a search is completed. However, there may be benefits to filing an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with all possible speed.

The U.S. is now a “first to file” country, which means that the first inventor to file an application for new technology is the individual who is deemed to be the originator of the idea and therefore eligible for a patent.

This contrasts with the prior U.S. system under which a “first to invent” rule was followed. Under this system, an inventor who could produce documentation showing that they were the originator of a product or process could prevail over another inventor who filed their application first.

Accordingly, inventors may feel a great deal of pressure to immediately pursue patent protection. This is where the advice of a qualified intellectual property attorney becomes indispensable.

Your attorney can help you to determine whether or not your invention is sufficiently well-developed to pursue patent protection. If you are still deep in the development process, then your attorney may recommend filing a provisional patent application.

Such an application preserves an earlier filing date for your invention while also providing you with one year in which you may continue to develop the technology. You may rely on the guidance of your IP attorney during this time. At the end of the year, you may file a non-provisional patent application that more completely describes your invention. This application will be examined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and it also may issue as a patent.

Should I Do A Trademark Search?

It is always advisable to do a trademark search before you proceed with selecting a name for a business, band name, slogan, or any other symbol, mark, or terminology to represent your product and service to the public.

Typically it is best to do the trademark search at the very first stages of the process. Costs and efforts associated in getting a new product to the market, branding, and advertising can be relatively high.

It can be disheartening, frustrating, and harmful to your business to begin such a process without first making sure you trademark is clear from potential issues. It is common to see demand letters for infringement when a proper trademark search was not performed prior to using a mark.

There are 45 trademark classes which are essentially categories of marks split based on the type of the good or service that can be registered by the USPTO. It can be a tedious process to search this on your own with all of the different options available.

It’s also important to search for unregistered trademarks because even though a trademark is unregistered it could still prevent you registering your trademark and could still lead to trademark infringement.

The cost to perform a search is extremely small when compared to trademark infringement.

To learn more about the patent and trademark search process set up a FREE Consultation with Jeff Williams.

Differences Between Patent Engineers, Patent Agents and Patent Attorneys

The Inventors Expertise

Inventors frequently are experts in their particular field. They understand the pertinent technology, and they have developed an innovation that may revolutionize the field.

It’s only natural for this individual to want to obtain a patent on their invention. Occasionally, inventors are tempted to draft a patent application and to try to prosecute it without assistance. This generally ends up being a costly error.

Although the inventor possesses incredibly detailed knowledge of their invention, they do not have any training or experience when it comes to writing a proper patent specification. Moreover, they likely do not have the legal knowledge that is necessary to complete prosecution. This lack of experience and knowledge may cause them to make a fatal error that precludes them from obtaining any patent protection.

Working with a professional in the intellectual property field can help to prevent this situation. It also ensures that you don’t end up with a patent that is so broad that it is essentially meaningless or with one that is so narrow in scope that it doesn’t provide any protection.

Most of these professionals work in intellectual property law firms. Patent engineers, patent agents and patent attorneys all may work together to ensure that your invention gets the legal protection that it deserves. What are the differences between these patent professionals?

Patent Engineers

A person who works as a patent engineer must have considerable specialized knowledge in a scientific or technical field. While they have not passed the patent bar and are not a lawyer, they still are able to perform numerous essential functions.

Patent engineers may perform searches in various databases to discover prior art for a particular invention. This may help with a decision regarding whether or not patent protection may be available for a certain innovation. The engineer may write reports or even provide much of the detail for the specification of the patent application.

Occasionally, the patent engineer works closely with the inventor to better understand the new product or process so that it can be adequately described in the specification.

Patent Agents

Like patent engineers, patent agents have a great deal of knowledge in scientific or technical areas. It’s not unusual for these professionals to hold a graduate degree or a Ph.D. Moreover, they have passed the Patent Bar Exam before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This qualifies them to file patent applications, advise clients as to the patentability of their inventions and to assess prior art.

While patent agents are qualified to handle almost any patent prosecution matter before the USPTO, they are expressly prohibited from providing legal advice. Accordingly, clients who need legal counsel for any business-related matter that is connected to their pursuit of a patent will need to work with a patent attorney.

One of the main advantages of working with a patent agent as opposed to a patent attorney is the cost. Their hourly rates tend to be more affordable.

Patent Attorneys

A patent attorney is essentially a patent agent who also holds a legal degree. Like engineers and agents, these attorneys must have formal education in a scientific or technical area. This may include a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science or a Ph.D. These professionals then attend law school, and they must pass the bar exam in the state where they intend to practice.

Next, they must pass the Patent Bar Exam to practice before the USPTO. With their education and background, patent attorneys are prepared to handle all facets of patent prosecution. This may include litigation if a patent is being infringed.

While it may cost more to hire a patent attorney than a patent agent, it is typically worth the expense. Working with a patent attorney provides you with all of the knowledge and skill that you’ll need to negotiate the process of pursuing patent protection.

As all of these patent professionals typically are employed by an intellectual property law firm, it is likely that an inventor may encounter at least two and perhaps all three of these professionals. Each one is working toward the same goal of obtaining the broadest, most meaningful and enforceable protection that is available for your invention.
Author: Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams is an experienced mechanical engineer and lawyer that consults closely with clients in a strait forward and clear manner. He brings a particular set of strengths and unique perspectives to the firm.

Jeff received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University in 2005. He was an engineer for a number of years at a number of large corporations before pursuing his law degree. He graduated from Texas A&M University School of Law (formerly Texas Wesleyan University School of Law) with a J.D. in 2010. By combining his education and prior work experience into the field of intellectual property law, Jeff has developed key skills to fully assist clients.