Help!

Help protect our new invention

See our Patents page for more information about patents.

Obtaining a patent is a long and complicated process, and success cannot be guaranteed. Working with an experienced patent attorney is the best way of protecting the value of invention.

The patent attorney will verify inventorship, verify that the business owns the patent rights to the invention, and prepare assignments of the patent rights from each inventor to the business. Employment agreements with employees likely to invent should include an obligation to assign inventions to the business.

A full disclosure of the invention should be obtained from the inventor(s). An Invention Disclosure Form in fillable PDF format is available for this purpose. It is important that the business control disclosure of the invention to others, because such disclosure may effect both U.S. and foreign patent rights.

To be patentable, the invention must be new and more than an obvious modification of what's old. A patentability and infringement search is recommended to evaluate the patentability of an invention, and whether the invention may itself infringe the patent rights of others. The patent attorney will advise you as to the scope and extent of the search.

A patent issues with one or more patent claims that define the scope of patent protection. The patent attorney prepares and prosecutes the patent application and will work closely with you to obtain the strongest protection available.

Help protect our logo or trademark

See our Trademarks page for more information about trademarks.

The strongest protection of your trademark or logo is a federal trademark registration (indicated by the "®" symbol). Working with an experienced trademark attorney is the best way to protect the value of your trademark.

The trademark attorney will evaluate the strength of your mark and its suitability for registration.

A full trademark search is recommended to check availability of the trademark and whether the mark may infringe the trademark rights of others. Trademark rights can arise simply by use; a full trademark search includes not only at state or federally registered marks, but unregistered marks as well.

A federal trademark application is filed on the basis of existing use of the mark in interstate commerce or a bona-fide intent to use the mark in interstate commerce. When the registration issues, nationwide trademark rights are effective as of the application filing date. For an intent-to-use application, this means the effective date of nationwide rights will pre-date actual use of the mark!

The United States recently became a member of the Madrid Protocol that enables a U.S. filed trademark application to be the basis for trademark registration in other countries.

Help protect our creative work

See our Copyrights page for more information about copyrights.

Creative works, such as books, poems, musical compositions, computer programs, graphics, and the like, are protected by copyright. Working with an experienced copyright attorney is the best way to protect the value of your creative work.

The copyright is created automatically when the work is created. It is important to verify that you own the copyright in the work, particularly if the work was created by an employee or by an independent contractor. A copyright assignment may be necessary to transfer copyright ownership.

If the work has possible economic value, the copyright should be registered with the Copyright Office within three months of publication. This enables possible recovery of attorney fees and additional damages from an infringer.

Help protect our know-how

See our Trade Secrets page for more information about trade secrets.

Know-how that provides a competitive advantage and is not known or used by competitors is protectable as a trade secret. Working with an experienced intellectual property attorney is the best way to protect the value of your trade secrets.

You should conduct a "know-how" audit to identify your trade secrets. These typically include customer lists, financial records, manufacturing methods, and "tips of the trade" learned through experience. Implement reasonable steps to guard the secrecy of the trade secret information and prevent unauthorized access by others. For example, provide only employees with a need to know access to trade secrets.

Employment agreements should inform new hires that they have a duty to hold trade secrets in confidence. Obtain written acknowledgments from departing employees that trade secrets must be kept in confidence even if employment ends.

Confidentiality agreements should be in place with vendors or other outsiders having access to trade secrets.

Help stop a competitor from infringing our patent

Patents are a critical competitive edge. Working with an experienced patent attorney is the best way to keep that competitive edge and stop a competitor from infringing your patent.

Patents contain one or more claims. The claims define the scope of the patent owner's right to exclude others from the invention. These paragraphs are carefully drawn to recite elements of the invention and relationships between elements. The claims must distinguish the invention from what is old, and obvious modifications of what is old.

The patent attorney will compare the infringing product or method with the claims of your patent, and verify that the patent claims are being infringed.

Help stop a competitor from infringing our trademark

Trademarks represent the good will and reputation of your business. Working with an experienced trademark attorney is the best way to prevent others from taking advantage of the valuable business reputation your business has earned.

Trademark infringement occurs if the owners of the conflicting marks compete in the marketplace and there is a likelihood of consumer confusion between the marks. The senior user in the marketplace can stop the junior user from using the infringing mark.

The trademark attorney will analyze the marks for likelihood of confusion, and verify that you are the senior user of the mark.

Help stop a competitor from unfair Internet competition

Unfair internet competition takes many forms: using your trademark in metatags, domain names or advertising keywords; framing or copying content; and cybersquatting to name just a few. Working with an experienced internet-savvy intellectual property attorney is the best way to stop unfair or infringing activity on the Internet.

The internet attorney will analyze your competitor's web actions for possible trademark or copyright infringement, and unfair competition.

Domain name disputes can be resolved under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy ("UDRP") administered by ICANN, a non-profit corporation that manages Internet domain names, or by suing the domain name holder in federal court under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ("ACPA"). Other disputes can be treated as trademark or copyright infringement, unfair competition, or be handled under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Help stop a competitor from copying our creative work

In this digital age, the opportunity to take or modify the creative works of others is easier than ever. Working with an experienced copyright attorney is the best way to stop others from copying or modifying your creative works and protect the value of your works.

Copyright law does allow limited copying, or "fair use", under limited circumstances. The copyright attorney will verify that the competitor has taken a creative work that you own and that the competitor's use is not a fair use.

The copyright must be registered before you sue for copyright infringement. If you register the copyright within three months of publication, you may also recover attorney's fees in addition to damages.

Help stop a competitor from taking our know-how

Former employees or vendors may offer your know-how to competitors. Working with an experienced intellectual property attorney is the best way to stop your trade secrets from being used by others.

You must act quickly to protect trade secrets. A court may be requested to issue an injunction preventing disclosure. If you delay, the court may infer that the trade secrets are not critical to the business and deny the injunction.

Trade secret disputes are very fact-sensitive, and the attorney will work closely with you to develop and document that the know-how is in fact a trade secret and that you took reasonable steps to protect it.

Help us license our patent

A patent license is a specialized contract. Being represented by a patent attorney experienced in patent licensing is the best way to protect and enhance the value of your licensed technology.

Patent licenses cover a wide variety of unique issues. Having these issues addressed in the license agreement helps you maximize the success of your licensing efforts and minimizes problems that could arise later.

Help us license our trademark

Trademark licensing is a great way of maximizing trademark value, whether expanding existing uses of the mark or through new uses of the mark. Being represented by a trademark attorney experienced in trademark licensing is the best way to protect and enhance the value of your trademarks.

Trademark licenses cover a wide variety of issues related to use and control of the mark. Furthermore, new trademark registrations may be needed to cover new uses. The trademark attorney will make sure that your trademark and trademark licensing portfolios support each other for maximum value and return.

Help us license our creative works

Creative works, such as software, music, books, and photographs, can be licensed in many ways and for many different uses. Being represented by a copyright attorney experienced in copyright licensing is the best way to add value to your creative works.

Copyright licenses range from the simple to the complex, and may involve applications of new technology such as the Internet or digital rights management.

The copyright attorney will work closely with you to achieve the licensing goals you desire.

We've been accused of patent infringement

Patent infringement is serious business. If infringement is willful, you can be liable for treble damages. Obtaining a competent noninfringement opinion from an experienced patent attorney is your best response to a charge of patent infringement.

Patents contain one or more claims. The claims define the scope of the patent owner's right to exclude others from the invention. These paragraphs are carefully drawn to recite elements of the invention and relationships between elements. The claims must distinguish the invention from what is old, and obvious modifications of what is old.

The patent attorney will compare your product or method with the claims of the patent you are charged with infringing. The attorney will evaluate the strength of the accuser's patent and determine the scope and meaning of the patent claims to provide a competent noninfringement opinion.

We've been accused of trademark infringement

Trademarks represent the good will and reputation of your business. Obtaining a competent noninfringement opinion from an experienced trademark attorney is the best way of protecting that good will from a charge of trademark infringement.

Trademark infringement occurs if the owners of the conflicting marks compete in the marketplace and there is a likelihood of consumer confusion between the marks. The senior user in the marketplace can stop the junior user from using the infringing mark.

The trademark attorney will analyze the marks for seniority of use and likelihood of confusion in preparing a noninfringement opinion, and may recommend alternative actions that could accommodate both sides in the dispute.

We've been accused of copyright infringement

Your creative works, such as architectural plans, computer programs, graphics, and music, are often valuable business assets. Working with an experienced copyright attorney is the best way to protect those creative assets from a charge of copyright infringement.

Copyright disputes are very fact-specific. For example, copyright law allows for limited copying under certain circumstances. Developing this "fair use defense" may be critical in successfully defending an infringement charge.

The copyright attorney will closely analyze the facts surrounding the dispute to guide you in how to best respond to the charges of infringement.

I want to license my invention to industry

Important! Disclosing your invention to others prior to filing a patent application can affect your ability to obtain U.S. or foreign patents. Consult with a patent attorney before making a disclosure!

You may not have the manufacturing or marketing resources required to make and sell your invention. Licensing your invention to an established company in return for royalties might be a practical alternative.

Not all companies accept new product ideas, and those that do are usually highly selective. Present your invention in a professional manner. Focus on why your product will be successful in the marketplace, and why it makes economic sense to license your invention. Your love of the invention is not enough...be as objective and as factual as possible!

Successful licensing almost always requires successfully obtaining a patent. You should closely work with your patent attorney to evaluate the patentability of your invention during your licensing efforts.

The license agreement itself is a specialized contract. Being represented by a patent attorney experienced in patent licensing is the best way to protect the value of your licensed technology.

I want to find investors for my invention

Three common routes to investors are: family and friends, "angel" investors, and venture capitalists.

Family and friends often provide finances for new inventors, but are usually limited in the financial backing they can provide.

"Angel" investors finance entrepreneurs just starting up or seeking initial expansion. Angel investors are often organized as small, informal groups of members that jointly back new ventures. Typical investments are less than $100,000. When seeking backing from angel investors, a thorough and well thought-out business and marketing plan is a must.

Venture capitalists generally back small businesses with a proven track record trying to break into the "big leagues". Venture capitalists generally invest in the millions of dollars.

Angel investors and venture capitalists can be located through the Internet, or ask your local business school or college for help in finding investors. Seek competent business counsel before agreeing to investment terms.

I want to use an invention promotion company

We strongly recommend using your own patent attorney to prepare and prosecute your patent application.

But if you decide to use an invention promotion company:

Beware! There are good invention promotion companies and there are bad invention promotion companies. Bad promotion companies use the inventor's love of the invention to separate the inventor from his or her money.

An invention promotion company must disclose in writing:

  • The total number of inventions evaluated for commercial potential in the past 5 years, as well as the number of those inventions that received positive evaluations, and the number of those inventions that received negative evaluations
  • The total number of customers who have contracted with the invention promotion company in the past 5 years, not including customers who have purchased trade show services, research, advertising, or other nonmarketing services from the invention promoter, or who have defaulted in payment
  • The total number of customers known by the invention promotion company to have received a net financial profit as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promotion company
  • The total number of customers known by the invention promotion company to have received license agreements for their inventions as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter

If the company refuses to provide these disclosures, go elsewhere. Do your homework to avoid expensive disappointment and perhaps the loss of your patent rights!