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Minneapolis Patent Law Blog

Why protecting your invention is essential

If you are an inventor, then you know just how valuable your ideas are and how important it is to protect them from others who may attempt to counterfeit or copy them as their own. One of the most important steps in terms of protecting your intellectual property is to apply for a patent for your invention.

Even the most diligent inventors sometimes experience the awful reality of another company or individual ripping off their original idea. When something like this happens, it is crucial to take the emotions out of the situation and proceed in a strategic way. 

Copyright infringement can be a gray area of law

Creative expression is a unique feature of what it means to be human and government recognizes the value that expression delivers to society through intellectual property law. Obtaining a copyright from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is clear recognition of a work's originality and that the holder has the right to derive the monetary benefit from that work.

Registering your work and maximizing protection of your interests depends on meeting the requirements set by the USPTO, including:

Quick check of the state of inter partes review

If anything in patent law triggers a love-hate reaction it is likely the processes related to inter partes review (IPR).

For those unfamiliar with it, inter partes review is a form of in-house review the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has used since 2012 to adjudicate certain challenges to patent rights. Until this year, it had garnered little attention from mainstream media. But two cases decided recently by the U.S. Supreme Court, and one that is coming up for consideration have sparked interest across business and the intellectual property law arena. For good reason.

The different types of trademark protection

Do you know who Walter Hagen is? He was a professional golfer prominent in the first half of the last century. He was so good that he ranks third in the world for the number of men's major championship wins. Jack Nicklaus is first. Tiger Woods is second. That's ironic because Hagen is also the guy credited with saying, "No one remembers who came in second."

We are picking up on this fact because it has application in the context of the important facet of intellectual property law dealing with trademark protection. To learn more, read on.

ADR is big, does it work in IP disputes?

People, being people, have disagreements. Relationships of all kinds get put at risk if disputing parties let the issue fester. Within the legal context, the traditional approach to this dilemma has been to litigate. Historically, the process involves bringing the dispute into the open. Negotiations follow, pressed by the knowledge that unresolved issues could wind up in court.

That can be costly, time consuming and ultimately frustrating. Most people would prefer to settle differences without sending it to an uncontrolled third party. That being the case, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods have developed that include mediation and arbitration. Touted as a way to achieve desired outcomes more quickly and at lower cost, ADR is in growing demand in many areas.

Basic steps for protecting intellectual property

In the salad days of piracy, the activity was very face to face. One craft, usually small and light, would outmaneuver a cargo-laden bigger vessel on the high seas and snatch the goods. Maybe with some bloodshed.

Today, piracy is most common in cyberspace. Anonymity reigns. Culprits don't have faces and they mask their IP address, the numeric designation identifying a user's location on the internet. There's no bloodshed, but estimates put the loss to the U.S. economy at between $180 billion and $540 billion.

SCOTUS broadens chances of patent owner damage recovery

A traditional view within patent law is that a patent granted for an invention or idea extends infringement protection only within the bounds of the country that issued the license. So, if you obtain a patent from the U.S. government, the law limits recovery for infringement damages to market losses within the U.S.

However, that rather bright line standard is a little fuzzier in the wake of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Last month, the high court ruled on a 7-2 vote that U.S. companies that lose profits from overseas markets due to infringement can seek recovery. The case now returns to the lower courts for a new determination on whether damages are owed, and if so, how much.

How common is patent infringement?

A phrase that is familiar among inventors, “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” is commonly attributed to a former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office commissioner near the turn of the 20th century, although some claim the quote came from a book published much later. Regardless of its origins, you and other inventors in South Dakota might think the saying is a bit silly. This certainly is an age of great technological progress, and there can be no predicting the inventions and innovations in the decades to come.

You may worry whether the influx of new ideas from researchers, scientists and innovators around the world can affect your own business. It may dismay you to learn that patent infringement occurs on a daily basis, whether accidental or intentional.

10 millionth US patent reflects advance of technology

"You've come a long way, baby." That was the slogan Phillip Morris used to market Virginia Slims, the first cigarette brand marketed specifically to women. Like any legitimate intellectual property, that phrase is trademarked. But another event this week in Washington would seem to deserve some recognition with the phrase. On June 19, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued the country's 10 millionth patent.

The distinction, one that will surely go down in the annals of history, goes to inventor Joseph Marron. The firm that owns the patent is Raytheon Co. And if you want to claim your own measure of distinction, try saying the name of the idea out loud. If you can do it easily once, try doing it three times fast.

Velcro music video rips the world in defense of its trademark

Patent law has a reputation as being a rather muted area of practice. Those dedicated to it know that isn't true. It does have its quiet moments and the amount of detail to attention and paperwork it requires can be off-putting to some. But managing patents, trademarks and copyright processes is how new ideas begin to create value and that fosters innovation. There's nothing dull about that.

It is possible for a product and its brand to become so successful over time that it begins to become generic and the product risks the worst of all fates, genericide. Examples of this phenomena are easy to find. Aspirin, cellophane, linoleum and thermos were once trademark names for specific products and are now synonymous with a host of similar products. Some examples of marks that appear to be on the road to genericide include Kleenex, Dumpster and frisbee.

Don't risk losing your intellectual property rights by failing to act.

Register for patent, trademark or copyright protection by calling Kaufhold & Dix at 612-216-1161.

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