Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks - An Entrepreneur's Perspective


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Introductory presentation on intellectual property protections.

Not every successful business is built around an original idea, and not every good idea ends up with a business built around it. But when you do have an innovative idea - patents, trademarks, servicemarks and copyrights can help protect your idea and give you time to develop it into a business. But it is worth the time and cost in today's fast-paced startup scene?

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Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks - An Entrepreneur's Perspective

  1. 1. PATENTS, COPYRIGHTS & TRADEMARKS An Entrepreneur's Perspective +Chris Mohritz |
  2. 2. OUR JOURNEY ● Patent ● Copyright ● Trademark / Service Mark Interupt me anytime for questions & comments
  3. 3. GOAL ● Differences between each ● Scenarios where each is applicable ● Application highlights & costs ● Present different viewpoints on value ● Real-life entrepreneur concerns ● Focus on strategy, not process details Anyone currently considering a registration?
  4. 4. THE RABBIT HOLE ● Patents, copyrights and marks are simple in concept but complex in practice ● Today is not intended to change anybody's mind or convince you of any particular mindset ● Will offer a series of perspectives and reference materials ● Can form your own conclusions based on your unique situation ● And as with anything entrepreneurship, the decision rests with you ● Can pursue state, federal, international - today’s examples focus on federal-level (most popular)
  6. 6. PATENT Protecting ideas that have been reduced to practice
  7. 7. WHAT IS IT? ● “A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.”
  8. 8. PATENT TYPES ● Utility: any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof ● Design: new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture ● Plant: any distinct and new variety of plant
  9. 9. EXAMPLES ● Method for producing a tangible result ○ genetic engineering procedure ○ investment strategy ● A machine ○ cigarette lighter ○ photocopier ● Article of manufacture ○ tire ○ transistor ● Composition of matter ○ A drug ○ A genetically altered lifeform ● Improvement of an invention in above
  10. 10. FILING PROCESS ● $1500+ (DIY) ● 24+ months ● 1yr provisional option ● Lasts 20 or 14 years
  11. 11. VIEWPOINT #1: RISK VS. REWARD ● Elon Musk (SpaceX, PayPal, Tesla) ecorner.stanford. edu/authorMaterialInfo.html? mid=393 benzinga. com/news/13/03/3451756/is-elon- musks-spacex-protected-without- patents
  12. 12. VIEWPOINT #2: PATENT IT ALL ● Amazon huffingtonpost. com/2014/05/15/colbert- amazon-patent_n_5331743. html patft.uspto. gov/netacgi/nph-Parser? Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF &p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml% 2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv. htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PAL L&S1=08676045&OS=PN/08 676045&RS=PN/08676045
  13. 13. PATENT AS MARKETING TACTIC ● “Our patent pending formula...”
  14. 14. PATENT TROLLS ● Rockstar ( ● tech/google-files-lawsuit-against-rockstar- in-move-against-microsoft-apple-1211227
  15. 15. PROFESSIONAL OBLIGATION ● Public company and/or 3rd-party investors? ● Legal requirement to “maximize shareholder value” ● lawsuit-unwired-planet
  16. 16. TIME FOR A CHANGE ● Can the current patent system adapt to our global economies & accelerating tech? ● forbes. com/sites/timworstall/2013/06/23/the- tabarrok-curve-why-the-patent-system-is- not-fit-for-purpose
  17. 17. BE AWARE ● If sourcing offshore products and selling in US, watch for US patents ● If manufacturing your patented product overseas, watch for your manufacturer reselling it ● Iterate: Filing a US patent makes the idea public knowledge (globally)
  18. 18. WHERE TO START ●
  19. 19. COPYRIGHT Protectings expressions (not ideas)
  20. 20. WHAT IS IT? ● “A copyright protects works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed.”
  21. 21. COMMON LAW ● “In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.”
  22. 22. EXAMPLES ● Software ● Books ● Blog posts ● Songs ● Architecture plans ● Paintings ● etc.
  23. 23. FILING PROCESS ● $35 (DIY) ● 3+ months ● Lasts author lifetime + 70 years
  24. 24. BE AWARE ● Watch copyright when hiring consultants ● If they create a design or article for you, they own the copyright (common law) ● They can sign over rights
  25. 25. WHERE TO START ●
  26. 26. TRADEMARK & SERVICEMARK Protecting goodwill associated with mark
  27. 27. WHAT IS IT? ● “A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. The term ‘trademark’ is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.”
  28. 28. COMMON LAW ● “Federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark. Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark and may allow the common law user to successfully challenge a registration or application.”
  29. 29. FILING PROCESS ● $275+ (DIY) ● 10+ months ● 6 month intent-to-use option(s) ● Lasts 10 years
  30. 30. EXAMPLE: “ELIXIR” ● Desired use: Water Bottle Brand Name ● Current use: Camelbak Product (camelbak. com/elixir) ● Current registration: none (tmsearch.uspto. gov/bin/gate.exe?f=searchss&state=4801:71qe2l.1.1) ● Trademark status: actively used, common law trademark implied for Camelbak (uspto. gov/faq/trademarks.jsp#_Toc275426712) ● Decision: not used, would cause consumer confusion in hydration industry
  31. 31. WHERE TO START ●
  32. 32. SUMMARY ● Patents focus on inventions ● Copyrights focus on design works ● Marks focus on identifications ● Usefulness of filing is completely dependant on your goals & requirements
  33. 33. GOAL CHECK ● Understand differences? ● See where each is applicable? ● Know costs & starting point to apply? ● Have a view into strengths & weaknesses? Anyone decide for or against registration?
  34. 34. MY THOUGHT PROCESS ● I start with "benefits are not worth hassle" ○ Difficult & expensive offensively (locally & globally) ○ Common Law provides protection defensively ○ I don't plan to sue anyone (ie. patent troll) ○ I believe in the golden rule (don’t invite legal issues) ○ I don’t assume problems (fear-based thinking) ○ Why block competition if I welcome the challenge? (it better serves the customer) ● Then decide based on exceptions ○ Am I planning to sell company? (barrier to sale) ○ Need to expose inner workings to untrusted parties? ○ Shady competitors? (ounce of prevention) ● Attorney opinions are inherently biased ● “Friend” (inexperienced) opinions are hot air
  35. 35. Feedback? Questions?