Starting a business under a name that is not strictly your own? It’s time to sign up for patent protection.
Even if it is under your own name it’s highly recommended you brush up your knowledge of copyright law. The last thing your start-up needs is a poor foundation that leaves you floundering when someone breaches their contract or attempts to steal your intellectual property. Meeting with a patent protection lawyer can lay out all the basics for your perusal, helping you get started on the right foot so the rest of your year can follow suit. Even those who have started businesses in the past should request a refresher, as the digital and traditional landscape is always changing.
Here’s what you should know.
Copyright is nothing new. In fact, it dates back a few centuries in the West. The very first U.S. patent law was first enacted in 1790, proceeding to pave the way for small businesses and large companies alike. Without the aid of patent law on their sides many businesses would find their intellectual property compromised, putting them in the position of losing money and even seeing their livelihood going belly-up. As of today the U.S. Patent Office will receive six times as many applications than it did in 1980. If you’ve ever pondered whether or not you qualify for a patent, wonder no more.
There are four established ways to protect your intellectual property. You have patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. While it can seem like splitting hairs, some patent protection is more relevant than others depending on what you’re selling and who you’re selling with. In order to receive a patent for an invention you need to meet three criteria. The usefulness, novelty and non-obviousness of your product all need to reach a certain threshold before going through. This isn’t where your knowledge ends, however. You need to know about time limits.
The three kinds of patents are utility patents, design patents and plant patents. Keep a close eye on your calendar when your patent is about to expire. Nobody wants a nasty surprise while trying to run their business! Design patents expire 14 years from the date of issue. Utility and plant patents issued after June 8th of 1995, however, will expire 20 years after the date of application. This is alongside payment of general maintenance fees. What else should you know about when you meet with a patent lawyer?
Unique packaging is an important factor when creating a product to sell to thousands, potentially millions. The size or shape of a drink bottle, for example, may be eligible for a design patent. Remember that this will only protect the design for 14 years, while a utility patent can give you an extra six. Think that’s a lot to keep track of? Lex Machina offered legal analytics for patent infringement lawsuits back in 2016, seeing over 4,000 cases of businesses and individuals attempting to infringe on the rights of their competitors. In the age of the Internet it is all too easy to claim someone else’s work for your own.
Patent protection means taking all of your current business plans to patent lawyers eager to help you succeed. Back in 2016 digital communication and computer technology claimed the first and second place in the list of technologies with the most international patent applications. Whether you have a small idea with big dreams or are well on your way to expanding a pre-existing business, patent lawyers will ensure your intellectual property practices are sound from the ground up. The worst thing you can do is cross your fingers and hope nothing bad comes to pass…and how successful is that for a business owner?
Apply for a meeting at your patent law firm today and see how you can set the stage for 2018.