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Minneapolis Patent Law Blog

Who should be seeking a patent and why?

Some compare being a patent holder to holding a lottery ticket. Just because you have the number doesn't mean you're a winner. Some dismiss the whole idea of pursuing a patent for that reason. They might believe the costs of seeking a patent are so unknown or so high, and that the odds of making any money off the idea are so low, that it's not worth the effort. But, as the old line goes, you can't win a game if you don't play it.

By consulting with an experienced patent law attorney, one committed to transparency about the process and the associated costs from the outset, inventors can best assess whether their new idea is not just patentable, but also marketable and how. The bottom line, the most important reason to explore getting a patent is to protect your idea from theft by someone else.

Understanding patent claim construction

The legal trade features an expansive glossary of terms. There are so many that are so confusing that it suggests Winston Churchill's quote, "It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." In patent law, the term "claim construction" is one that is enigmatic, and because it is making headlines, it may be worth looking at a little more deeply.

What made recent news is the appearance in the Federal Register of a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office final rule announcing that it is, "changing the claim construction standard applied during inter partes review (IPR), post-grant review (PGR), and the transitional program for covered business method patents (CBM) proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)." What does this mean?

Obtaining a patent? It's a process

What is it like to obtain a patent? Ask Billy Beane, the one-time baseball general manager. As he expressed in the movie "Moneyball," "It's a process. It's a process. It's a process." In Beane's case, the process involved data analytics about on-base percentages and persuading his team to play to maximize that metric. It worked. But it took time.

The same can be said for successfully obtaining a patent. It can be so complicated, in fact, that a single misstep along the way often means serious loss. Not only can it delay an inventor's rights to monetize an idea, they could be lost completely.

What makes working with an IP attorney important?

If you ever stray into a conference of patent attorneys, you might feel you just walked into a bar on an alien planet. Conversations don't seem to be taking place in English. The seemingly incomprehensible language of the patent world is something that has developed over the course of decades, driven by the demands of the practice.

IP law, like all law, is complex. But it is also highly detailed. Besides myriad laws, there are IP-specific rules and doctrines developed over many years. Along with that, a tangled bureaucracy has developed for IP administration. And then there are the various legal venues for handling legal claims. To keep track of the past and developing trends, and maintain a strategic edge in securing and enforcing inventors' rights, those skilled in IP protection have their own jargon.

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.

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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