"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.
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.
Inter partes review is safe and sound. We reported on this development in our last post. In two recent decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court declared IPR constitutional on one hand. On the other hand, it took the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to task being too arbitrary in the way it sometimes chose to exercise the IPR power it wields.
It's sometimes hard to know who is the winner and who is the loser in a legal dispute. When the ball in play happens to be patent law, it can make filling in the win-loss columns even harder. That may be the case with two recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"You have to spend money to make money." That's a phrase any budding entrepreneur has likely heard at some point. According to various sources, the line is credited to a Roman poet, philosopher and playwright and dates to several hundred hears before the start of the common era.
Facebook is in the crosshairs over subscribers' personal data privacy. The issue is that the company, Cambridge Analytica, mined data of millions of Facebook users and allegedly used it to target political ads more than two years ago. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg acknowledges Facebook mishandled the matter saying, "We made mistakes and I own them."
Just about anything seems to hold some potential for becoming weaponized these days. Cyber bullying uses social media to inflict shame and pain on others. Flaming arrows over Twitter have seen a resurgence of life lately, especially in politics. In the intellectual property world, many agree that the threat comes from patent trolls.
Everything these days seems to come with an expiration date, and patents are no exception. If you have a new invention or new way of producing a product, you have good reason to protect it against theft. You certainly want to secure it if you want to monetize your idea or invention. Alternatively, you might want to obtain a patent to be sure no one else exploits your idea or invention to your detriment.
Many inventors in Minnesota and South Dakota who became successful did not have a detailed roadmap to follow. Also, they were not experienced entrepreneurs or wealthy investors. What they did have, however, was the determination to succeed. If you believe you are the newest inventor of an idea or app that is going to take the world by storm, you should be willing to do what it takes to overcome any obstacles that may come your way during the invention and patent process.
Where does pursuit of intellectual property protection fall on the continuum of steps to bring an amazing idea to market? Most inventors and entrepreneurs ponder this question at some point. Everyone probably has his or her own answer.