What should you know about music patents?

Is it possible to get a music patent? Patents are one option when it comes to protecting the intellectual property that you create, and they may not be the best choice when you want to protect a song.

Singers and songwriters who are interested in protecting their creations are encouraged to contact an intellectual property attorney who can help them to formalize protection of their work.

Is Music Intellectual Property?

Whether it’s the melody, the lyrics or both, music is intellectual property. Does that mean that you can get a music patent?

Not necessarily. To understand why, it’s critical to know the differences between copyrights, patents and trademarks.

Copyrights vs. Patents vs. Trademarks

Musical compositions and performances and recordings of those compositions are protected by copyrights. Registration of these rights is a simple and inexpensive process, but it grants the holder strong protections. If someone else uses your music without paying you or giving you credit, then you have the right to demand that they stop. These rights extend to lawsuits.

Patents are meant to protect inventions. Items that are suitable for a copyright are original works of authorship, but if you want to get a music patent, then you would essentially have to invent something new.

For instance, if you invented a new musical instrument that was unlike anything that people had seen or heard before, it would be appropriate to seek a patent for it.

Trademarks are set aside for protecting things like brands, slogans and logos. If you were in a band, then you might consider obtaining trademark protection for the band’s name or a logo that you use.

Copyrighting Songs and Recordings

If you want to register your copyright to a song or a recording, the process is easy. Most of it is completed online at the website for the U.S. Copyright Office. If you want to make certain that your application proceeds as smoothly as possible, then it’s wise to work with an IP attorney who can prepare and submit the application.

To do so, your attorney will need some basic information about you as the author of the creation and the work itself. You’ll need to provide data like the name of the song or album, and your lawyer will fill out the online form.

Filing online is more efficient and less expensive, so your attorney likely will use this route unless circumstances dictate that a paper filing makes more sense. Either way, it probably will take several weeks, and perhaps even a few months, to receive a copyright registration.

Is a Copyright Worth It?

When you officially register your work, it creates a public record of your rights and enables you to sue if someone infringes those rights. Depending upon when the registration was obtained, you may be able to claim statutory damages and attorney’s fees in addition to actual damages and profits. Moreover, registration can be recorded with U.S. Customs so that officials can watch out for counterfeit products.

Facts You Should Know About Copyrights

  1. Your work doesn’t have to be published.

Whether you publish your work or not, it can still be federally registered, and therefore is entitled to the full protection of the law.

  1. Your creation is protected for your lifetime and beyond.

Most published works that were fixed in tangible form after January 1, 1978 may be eligible for a copyright that lasts for 70 years beyond the author’s lifetime.

If you work for a company writing songs, then the copyright’s length may be even longer. This means that your songs are considered “work for hire.” Such compositions are entitled to 95 years of protection from the date of publication or for 120 years from the year of creation of the song, whichever deadline expires first.

  1. Protection is automatic.

You don’t necessarily have to register a copyright. In the U.S., your work is copyrighted as soon as it is fixed in a tangible form like writing it down on paper or making a recording of yourself singing it. However, registration gives you far more robust protection under the law.

  1. Sound recordings are not the same as compositions.

Imagine that you are a singer/songwriter. You’ve just written a song and recorded yourself singing and playing the guitar. This means that you may seek two different copyright registrations: one for the composition itself and a second one for your recording. If that song is used on an album or released as a single, then additional copyright protection may be available.

  1. Registration gives you rights.

The copyright holder has the power to rearrange and perform the work any way they wish. They can adapt it, reproduce it or distribute it however they like. It’s even possible to license others to do these things. The upshot is that a copyright registration keeps you in the driver’s seat.

Work with Williams IP Law

At the Williams IP Law, we practice in all areas of intellectual property. This includes patents, trademarks and copyrights. If you are curious about how to protect your rights, call Williams IP Law.

COVID-19 and Pharmaceutical Patent Law

With the COVID-19 pandemic being an issue that is impossible to ignore in recent months, it comes as little surprise that the race to develop a treatment or a vaccine for this virus is at the forefront of the minds of many innovators.

As individuals, companies, universities and governments across the globe strive to develop treatments and vaccines, several questions loom. If someone does develop a successful vaccine, should they be able to patent it? Or, should the formula be made publicly available around the world to allow even the planet’s poorest citizens to have immediate access to it?

While this debate remains at least partially theoretical in advance of the development of a successful treatment or a vaccine, this is an excellent time to examine pharmaceutical patent laws and their effect on the availability of medical treatments and vaccines.

What Is Pharmaceutical Patent Law?

Many people aren’t aware that new drugs frequently are patented by their creators. This means that the company that developed the drug has the right to prevent their competitors from making an identical product, and this means that the patent owner has reserved the right to earn profits from the formula to himself.

Eventually, all patents expire. At this time, which typically is after approximately 20 years, it becomes possible for other drug companies, including those that produce generic versions of medications, to make these drugs and perhaps offer them at a fraction of the price for which the patent owner was selling it.

Pharmaceutical patents are important to companies because it is risky and expensive for these companies to develop new drugs. Years of research, development and testing may be required, and the exclusive period of being able to claim the profits from sales of that drug help the company to recoup its expenses and turn a tidy profit. Moreover, the patent owner has the option of licensing their rights to other companies, which also can signal enhanced profits.

The downside pharmaceutical patents is that sometimes these drugs are incredibly expensive when they are under patent. Accordingly, people with limited financial means may not be able to afford access to critical medications.

If a treatment or vaccine could save lives, is it right to restrict the manufacture of this medicine to a single innovator or to charge a premium price for it?

Pharmaceutical Patent Law in a Pandemic

Over the years, large pharmaceutical firms have used a variety of more-or-less nefarious schemes in an attempt to extend their exclusive hold over patented drugs. With powerful government lobbying departments, they have sought to prohibit or minimize the manufacture of generic drugs.

Observers are concerned that if a major pharmaceutical company does develop a COVID-19 vaccine, that it will do everything it can to complicate access to it. The problem becomes more complex if more than one treatment or vaccine is developed. Then, there may be competing concerns that will make it even harder to dispense effective medicines to the world’s population.

This is why NGOs and certain pharmaceutical companies, along with biotech communities, are pledging to make public the results of their research and development into the treatment and prevention of the coronavirus. Accordingly, such drugs would be provided inexpensively or even at no cost to people around the world.

Similarly, the World Health Organization is lobbying to make research, treatments and vaccines publicly available, while some countries are proposing limited patent rights for treatments and vaccines that include mandatory licensing.

Vaccine Patent Law

Most of the vaccines that are recommended by medical professionals are far older than the typical 20-year term of a U.S. utility patent. This means that they are no longer subject to patent protection. Accordingly, they can be safely and effectively manufactured by a variety of companies without any of these companies running afoul of another’s patent rights.

However, if the currently hypothetical coronavirus vaccine is developed, should the inventor have the right to patent it? Some parties argue that the developer should have the exclusive right to profit from their achievement while others are convinced that the vaccine should be made publicly available to all.

Currently, various efforts are underway to make the vaccine available for the good of the world’s population. Time will tell if these efforts, and the effort to develop a vaccine, are successful.

If you are an inventor or entrepreneur with an innovative idea, then it makes sense to take essential steps to protect your work. Contact the Williams IP Law for an initial consultation to explore your options.

Back-to-School Inventions That Were Revolutionary

Back to School

As autumn draws near, thoughts turn to the upcoming school year. One of the most highly anticipated parts of going back to school is the supplies.

Here’s a look at the invention of some of the most common and best-loved school supplies.

Crayons

Is it possible that Pennsylvania cousins C. Harold Smith and Edwin Binney could have known how popular and timeless their 1903 invention would become?

Of course, this pair of inventors didn’t invent the crayon. That honor belongs to European inventors who created a crayon using a mixture of oil and charcoal. Eventually, pigmented hues would take the place of charcoal, giving artists a rainbow of colors.

The Crayola Crayons that are the staple of every child’s desk were first offered for sale in 1903. Alice Binney, the wife of one of the crayon’s innovators, coined the name “Crayola” from the French word for a stick of chalk “craie” and by shortening the oily word “oleaginous.”

Made from colored pigments and paraffin wax, Crayola Crayons started out with eight colors. Today, there are hundreds of options.

Eraser

The eraser is an indispensable tool in any classroom, but this technology wasn’t as obvious in earlier centuries as it is today. Throughout the decades, people tried a variety of substances to get rid of mistakes written in ink or lead.

A tablet of wax, some rough sandstone or even a piece of soft bread might have been able to obliterate written mistakes in those days. Then, English engineer Edward Nairne tried to use a piece of natural rubber instead of a morsel of bread. The year was 1770, and Nairne began selling rubbers. However, these rubbers had drawbacks like a peculiar odor and a tendency to crumble during use.

Charles Goodyear refined the process of making rubber erasers in 1839 when he developed a process for vulcanization of rubber. This made erasers more durable, and they became a household staple. Inventor Hymen Lipman later patented his idea for attaching an eraser to the tip of a pencil, though the patent later was invalidated.

Nonetheless, the eraser, whether attached to a pencil or not, remains an indispensable tool in the classroom.

Pencil Sharpener

Long gone are the days of needing a knife or sandpaper to sharpen a pencil. Today, students use a mechanical or electric pencil sharpener. It’s much faster and more convenient, but how did we arrive at this marvelous innovation?

It was Bernard Lassimonne, a French mathematician, who received the first patent for a pencil sharpener. The year was 1828, and the device relied on a block of wood inset with metal files set at 90 degrees to each other. Cumbersome to use, the device never caught on.

However, another Frenchman, Thierry des Estivaux, was waiting in the wings with an improvement. This device consisted of a single blade in a cone-shaped housing. Today, this is called a prism sharpener, and it’s still in use.

One of the most important pencil sharpener improvements was created in the U.S. by John Lee Love, an African-American inventor. While working in Fall River, Massachusetts as a carpenter, Love invented the Love Sharpener, the first portable pencil sharpener. Love was able to patent his invention in 1897.

Lunch Box

Choosing the right lunch box is something of a declaration of the carrier’s personality. However, lunch boxes had a much more utilitarian beginning in the 19th century. Those lunch boxes were plain and functional, most often carried by working men, and usually were constructed of metal to ensure durability even in places like mines and quarries.

It wasn’t until 1902 that lunch boxes designed for kids were introduced. These were often made to resemble small picnic baskets, but it wasn’t long before entrepreneurs saw an opportunity.

One of the earliest of these was Walt Disney. His hugely popular animated character, Mickey Mouse, was the first character to be featured on a lunch box. Soon, Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger, and later the Beatles, the Partridge Family and the Harlem Globetrotters, were showing up on lunch boxes everywhere.

Today, metal lunch boxes are rare as most are now manufactured from molded plastic.

White-Out

Sometimes also called liquid paper, typist Bette Nesmith Graham invented White-Out in 1956. Initially, the substance consisted of tempera paint that was run through Graham’s kitchen blender. She began distributing bottles of her “Mistake Out” to her colleagues.

Two years later, Graham founded the Mistake Out Company, still working in her kitchen and garage. The venture finally became a full-time one, and Graham sold the company to the Gillette Corporation in 1979.

Whether your invention belongs in the classroom, the factory or the operating room, it’s wise to protect it with a patent. Speak with the IP professionals at Williams IP Law to learn more about how to protect your innovation.

What You Need To Know About Textile Patents

The textile industry has always been an innovative one. It’s also one of the oldest industries, dating back nearly to the dawn of civilization.

Despite the long history of textiles, there are still plenty of innovations to be made. These may include a trendy new fabric design that’s the talk of the runways in Milan or a woven fabric that could function as an implantable medical device. Regardless, some form of intellectual property, or IP, protection may be necessary.

A closer look at the history of textiles and its relationship to intellectual property will make this clear.

History of Textiles

From the Latin word “texere,” meaning “to weave,” textiles typically are flexible materials composed of networks of either artificial or natural fibers, which usually are called yarn. The yarn is then pressed, knotted, crocheted, knitted or woven into a textile.

Some of the earliest examples of textile manufacture date back to the sixth and seventh centuries BC in Europe. India was spinning cotton as early as 3,000 BC and was manufacturing silk by 400 AD. Egyptians began spinning and weaving linen around 3,400 BC while the Chinese started spinning silk around 2,600 BC.

Raw wool was the most commonly used textile material for centuries. Some societies also used flax or cotton. Textile operations were small, perhaps just a single cottage in a village where manufactured goods were painstakingly produced by hand.

In the latter half of the 18th century, the dawn of the Industrial Revolution permanently changed the textile manufacturing landscape. Hand production became less prominent during the following decades, and machines powered by steam or water dominated factories across Europe and America.

Innovations like the spinning jenny and the flying shuttle made it easier than ever before to produce mass quantities of textiles. Of course, all of these machines and their component parts needed IP protection, and so did some of the textiles that they were used to manufacture.

Textiles & Intellectual Property

Improvements in the manufacture of textiles go hand-in-hand with IP protection. An inventor who makes a significant improvement on a sewing machine or who builds an entirely new weaving machine certainly will want to seek patent protection for it.

However, other forms of IP protection also may be appropriate. It is possible to protect a new fabric or other textile with a design patent, which is directed to a “new, original, and ornamental design.” Obtaining design patent protection usually is less complicated than obtaining a utility patent, yet it still provides valuable coverage. Any non-functional aspect of the design may be protected, and this protection extends for a period of 14 years.

Alternatively, it may be appropriate to seek a trademark registration for a textile. In the U.S., trademarks function as source identifiers. It is possible for a fabric design as well as a footwear or clothing design to be protected as a trademark. Obtaining a trademark registration for a textile can be tricky as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not consider such designs “inherently distinctive.” Instead, the applicant must demonstrate a secondary meaning or some level of acquired distinctiveness before a registration is issued. A trademark registration can be maintained in perpetuity as long as the registered mark continues to be used in U.S. commerce.

Copyright Protection for Textiles

The other alternative is to seek copyright protection on a new and innovative textile. In the U.S., a copyright protects original works that are fixed in some tangible form. “Useful” articles that perform a basic function are not eligible for copyright protection. Accordingly, a design for a new pair of shoes or an overcoat would not be able to be protected by copyright.

Nonetheless, any original, non-functional design may be able to become a registered copyright. Although registration is not required in order to hold a copyright, it is recommended as it provides the owner with additional opportunities before the law to pursue anyone who infringes the registered copyright.

Contact the Williams IP Law

If you have invented a new and innovative textile or have made an improvement to a machine that manufactures textiles, then it’s wise to consider whether or not formal IP protection may be needed. When you hold a patent, registered trademark or registered copyright, then you may have the right to prevent others from producing a similar textile or copying your manufacturing improvement.

Contact Jeff Williams today to schedule a consultation to discuss this and other IP-related matters.

Oil & Gas Patenting Trends and Innovation

The oil and gas industry has always been an innovative one. Over the decades, drilling for natural resources has required ever-more-sophisticated technology to tap into reserves that were unknown or impossible to exploit for earlier generations.

Consequently, the oil and gas industry has always pursued a multitude of patents. While that remains true, the protected technology has certainly evolved. Keeping up with these trends makes it possible for entrepreneurs and organizations to stay on top of the industry and remain competitive.

Patent Filing Trends

Today, most oil and gas industry patents are focused in areas such as:

  • Earth drilling;
  • Geophysics;
  • Metalworking technologies; and
  • Climate change–mitigation technologies

Earth drilling is by far the most frequently used technology in the field. It comes as no surprise then that most industry patents cover some aspect of this technology.

In an interesting trend, as the world emerged from the Great Recession that began in 2008, patent filings increased overall. However, patent applications in the oil and gas industry did not experience quite the same robust growth rate. Moreover, the focus of these patent applications had definitely switched to the areas listed above, with hydraulic fracturing receiving an even greater emphasis.

Patent Innovation for Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing, which commonly is referred to as fracking, involves cutting-edge technology in this field. A fracking fluid is pumped into an oil well under extreme pressures. The introduction of the fluid causes underground rock formations to fracture. These fractures stimulate the production of oil and gas.

Fracking techniques may be combined with horitzontal wells to reach previously unobtainable reserves.

Since 2006, oil and gas companies have filed approximately 1,000 patent applications related to fracking technology. The number of filings in this area has steadily increased each year, with the covered technology relating to both the tools and methods that are needed to exploit oil reserves.

Many players in the industry are seeking coverage for other technologies that are related to fracking. These may include systems and tools for monitoring fractures and proppants, finding the best positioning for horizontal drilling operations, controlling the heat resistance of fracking fluids and treating the waste products that are left over from the use of fracking fluid.

Trend in Patent Infringement Cases

As companies in the oil and gas industry have increased the number of patent applications they are filing, the opportunities for infringement have multiplied. Recall that the innovations that are disclosed in a patent application are afforded some level of protection as soon as the application is filed. The U.S. is now a first-to-file country, which means that the first party to file an application for a given technology is regarded as the first to have come up with the idea.

Accordingly, it is possible for patent applicants to begin informing others of their rights whenever they suspect that a competitor is somehow using their proprietary technology. The publication of the patent application, which frequently occurs approximately 18 months after filing, can serve as notice to competitors that they may be infringing.

Key Countries For Oil And Gas Innovation

Research suggests that most oil and gas industry related patents are being filed in the United States, China and Japan. Consequently, it is sensible for inventors or their employers to file patent applications at least in the U.S. to protect their ideas. It also may be worthwhile to consider filing national-phase applications in China, Japan and elsewhere that the technology may be used or infringed upon.

Contact Williams IP Law

The legal professionals at the Williams IP Law have considerable experience in the oil and gas industry. In the course of their practice, they have filed U.S. as well as PCT and national-phase patent applications. Partnerships with other intellectual property attorneys around the world make this a cost-effective and convenient process.

If you have an innovation that you would like to protect with a patent or are concerned that a competitor is infringing your rights in the oil and gas industry then it’s time to schedule a consultation with Jeffrey Williams.

IP Law 101: Patent Trolls and What to do if You Meet One

What Are Patent Trolls?

Patent trolls are a lot like the threatening creatures from fairy tales that guard bridges and demand a high price for access. Rather than trying to develop or market a useful new product or process patent trolls try to earn a profit by accusing others of infringement. Their efforts tie up the U.S. court system with frivolous litigation, stifle innovation and put many small companies and individuals out of business.

A patent provides the owner with the right to prevent others from making, selling or offering for sale the invention described in the patent. Should an individual or company infringe that patent the patent owner has the right to demand that the infringer cease that activity. This can include threatening to file a lawsuit or actually moving forward with filing. Litigation is expensive and risky. Many companies accused of infringement are anxious to settle with the patent holder as long as it keeps them from going to trial. There are various means of settlement. The patent owner may agree to license the patent to the infringer. The infringer may also agree to cease the infringing activity, and may pay an agreed-upon amount to make up for lost sales of the patent holder.

How Patent Trolls Work

Knowing that Texas companies and individuals accused of infringement are typically willing to avoid litigation at all costs, patent trolls make it their business to routinely accuse others of infringement. They pick up patent rights not through innovation and hard work, but by purchasing patent rights from owners who are having difficulty monetizing their invention. The owner agrees to sell the patent to the troll in a last ditch effort to capitalize on their invention. Now that the patent troll owns the patent they are free to aggressively seek out anyone who might be infringing that patent.

It’s never pleasant to receive a threatening letter that suggests patent infringement and the possibility of a lawsuit. In fact, it often leads the recipient to panic. They might consider ignoring the letter or anxiety may push them to immediately capitulate to the patent troll’s demands. The better option is to remain calm and do a little research. An Internet search may reveal that the party behind the lawsuit is an entity known as a patent holding company or patent assertion entity. By looking at public court records and other documents, it should be fairly easy to determine whether or not the letter came from a patent troll.

What to do if confronted by a patent troll

Do Your Research

Start with a basic patent search to get a basic understanding of the patent. There are also resources where you can pull legal dockets surrounding the patent to see if there is a history of litigation surrounding the patent.

Contact a IP Law Attorney

Patent trolls have a couple tactics that have unfortunately worked for them.

  • They will send demand letters can come with a short deadline, this is meant to scare you into answering out of fear.
  • Another tactic is they will mass mail threats to unsuspecting organizations and then focus their attention on the companies that respond.

Just because you received one of these threatening letters it doesn’t mean a lawsuit will even get filed. Let us help you find out what you are dealing with.

Intellectual property attorneys have extensive experience and education that allows them to assess patent infringement claims. They can determine whether or not the infringement claims may have any merit. Moreover, they can engage in correspondence with the patent troll or their legal counsel in which in-depth analysis of the patent claims is conducted. Your patent attorney may be able to prove that your product or process in no way infringes the patent owned by the troll.

Don’t RUSH INTO Settlement

Above all else, don’t agree to a quick settlement, especially if it seems that a patent troll is at work. Like many schemes in the world, patent trolls will likely come back and demand more if you respond too quickly. A much better recommended course is to contact a patent attorney. 

If you suspect that you are being targeted by a patent troll in Texas, contact the Williams IP Law. You don’t have to immediately settle, especially if the claims being made have no merit.

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.