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A patent is a government-sanctioned monopoly, in exchange for full public disclosure of thew invention, for a novel idea or an improvement, reduced to practice, properly enabled and described, and specifically excludes others from making, using, or selling that invention.
There are different types of patent applications that can be filed with the USPTO – utility patents are for new or useful methods, devices, articles of manufacture, compositions, or therapeutic uses. It is by far the most filed type of patent application. Design patents protect the ornamental features of an article of manufacture. Plant patents protect new plant varieties or plant breeder’s rights.
In addition, a provisional application may be filed to establish a priority date. It will automatically expire after 12 months unless it is converted to a nonprovisional application. A nonprovisional is a fully complete patent application that will be examined and prosecuted through to issuance.
A trademark, or service mark, is a word, symbol, design or slogan that identifies the source of a good or service used in interstate commerce. a mark is an essential component for any company’s branding.
In order for a proposed mark to be registered by the USPTO, it is necessary to conduct a trademark clearance search, to check if the proposed mark is not confusingly similar to another mark already registered. One the mark is cleared, the application can be prepared and filed.
Because trademark rights are predicated on use, it is important to actually be using the mark in commerce. However, it is possible to file an application with a bona fide intention to use the mark.
Trade dress protections and geographical indications are also protected under the aegis of trademark law.
Copyrights protect creative works fixed in a tangible medium of expression. These include paintings, photographs, writings, content creations, blog postings, songs, musical compositions, sound recordings, software code, video productions, and architectural designs. While technically a valid copyright exists once the work is created onto something tangible, a U.S. Copyright Office registration is required to file suit in federal court or the new small claims court, Copyright Claims Board, before the U.S. Copyright Office.
as companies grow, so do their i.p. portfolios. however, most companies may not have the in-house staff to manage this growth, either the knowledge to manage a patent, trademark, and copyright portfolio, or the expertise to develop a comprehensive i.p. strategy.
an i.p. audit may be useful to assess the state of the i.p. portfolio. estate management involves overseeing the i.p. development, including patent and trademark prosecution, and pursuing licensing opportunities.
brent t. yonehara
founder & patent attorney
as the founder, brent has over two decades of i.p. industry experience, spanning both big law and boutique i.p. firms, tech companies, universities, and government agencies. He has implemented million-dollar revenue-generating i.p. departments, managed huge patent and trademark estates, and developed strategies for in-house I.P. asset development. brent received his j.d. from california western school of law, his ll.m. in intellectual property from benjamin n. cardozo school of law, and his b.a. from u.c. santa barbara. he is admitted to the bars of minnesota and the district of columbia, and before the united states patent and trademark office. he is a member of the aba, inta, piug, and the national lgbtq+ bar association.
as a typical i.p. nerd, brent in his spare time enjoys i.p. blogging. he also blogs about travel, and enjoys cooking, wine tasting, and running.
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