Today, the U.S. Patent Office receives six times as many applications for patents as it did in 1980. Due to the ever-evolving technological landscape, innovation is high -- and sharing these inventions with the entire world is possible with just the click of a button. At a time when everyone is clamoring to come up with the next big tech idea, it's become more important than ever to seek out patent protection. If you're a tech-savvy consumer, you'll probably be glad that creators went through the patent process for the following inventions.
GoPro: The founder and CEO of GoPro, Nicholas Woodman, first filed a patent for a unique invention -- a harness that attached a camera to one's body -- in 2004. This invention would allow extreme sports athletes to surf, kiteboard, rock climb, or dance with a camera safely and securely attached to themselves, therefore letting them capture all the action in a totally new way. But it wasn't until 2009, when Woodman's company developed and released its own line of video cameras and attachment methods, that the GoPro's popularity really took off. Some have subsequently tried to imitate this concept for their own gain, but thanks to GoPro's patent, their design remains the leading model.
Square: In 2010, Square filed about a dozen patents to protect their credit card reader -- and independent business owners are thankful they did. Founding engineer Sam Wen developed a portable, easy-to-use system that allows vendors to offer credit card services virtually anywhere they need to be, all right from their cell phone. Frequenters of craft fairs and quirky coffee shops have likely seen this piece of technology quite a bit. The technology is surprisingly affordable (there's even a free version, though the company does charge transaction fees), making it possible for virtually all businesses to accept debit and credit cards.
Dropbox: While this patent doesn't involve a piece of tech you can physically hold in your hand, it's proven to be every bit as useful. Dropbox managed to become the trailblazer in digital file sharing, making it easy to share and instantly synchronize documents and folders across a specific network. MIT alums and co-founders Arash Ferdowski and Drew Houston went through the patent process back in 2010 for their Dropbox design. The technology's unique setup and ability to share and edit documents in such a simple way has solidified it as a techie favorite, even with the other alternatives (like Google Docs) that are now available.
If you have a fantastic idea for a new product, you'll want to do exactly what these innovators did and protect your design. Our patent lawyers in Denver can get you started on the patent process and take steps to ensure your invention remains one-of-a-kind.
In 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued 303,051 different patents to innovators across the country. But as your patent lawyer in Denver will have told you, the patent process can be a lengthy and tedious one. Patents can protect your invention from being copied and sold by another company, but when does this patent protection actually start?
All patents must be submitted via application to the USPTO to either be approved or rejected. Once you submit your patent, it enters the "patent pending" stage. You may have seen this designation on advertisements or even on useful products in-person. Sometimes, a company may choose to put a product on the market with the "patent pending" description to deter others from stealing the idea and selling it as their own.
But just because your invention is "patent pending" doesn't mean you can pursue immediate legal action against anyone who tries to take your idea.
The American Inventors Protection Act, passed in 1999, grants infringement protection to inventions that are in the "patent pending" stage. That means that no one can legally copy your idea during the time between when you file for a patent and when one is issued to you. However, there is a catch: if someone does steal your product idea, you cannot file a lawsuit against that person or company until you receive your patent.
That said, the fact that your product is "patent pending" still carries quite a bit of weight. Because patent damages can start to accrue from the application filing date and can even be tripled if the inventor can prove another party's infringement was purposeful, most people will not try to steal your idea if they see that it's "patent pending." An inventor can also file an injunction against the offending company if they're trying to sell the product without the inventor's permission. If a company believes your invention is likely to receive a patent, they probably won't want to take these potentially costly risks.
Keep in mind, though, that it may take up to three years (or more, in some cases) to be granted a patent. The sooner you work with a patent lawyer in Denver to submit your application, the more protected you will be. While virtually anyone can submit a patent application, not every product is unique enough or useful enough to warrant approval. Some inventors spend substantial time and money on promoting a product they've submitted for patent approval without realizing their invention isn't likely to receive one in the end.
That's why it's so important to contact a patent lawyer in Denver early on in the process. That way, you'll have at least a reasonable idea that your invention will be seen as extraordinary enough to receive a patent eventually -- and in the meantime, you can market your idea with its "patent pending" designation to ensure everyone knows your product is protected.
A moment of inspiration can lead to endless possibilities. Or for some Texas entrepreneurs, the idea takes a little longer to develop. Whether it is just a moment, months or even years, once the idea is firmly embedded, the process of developing the idea into a marketable item can begin. One of the first steps in this process is to keep patent law concerns in mind and to make sure that the idea or product has not already been patented by someone else.
The first step in this process is to research what is currently on the market. Are there similar products or technologies currently available and does someone already hold a patent for the similar item? What is the market for this product? These questions, along with numerous others will need to be answered prior to going too far with the new endeavor.
One part of the research process is often to test market the product or allow others to view it and give feedback. This often gives the individual useful information; however, it can also open the door to others learning about and copying your idea. For this reason, those chosen to preview the product should be carefully selected.
The next step in the process is to actually apply for the patent. Part of this process involved making sure there are not others patents already in existence and then completing the necessary paperwork. A patent law attorney is often a vital part of this process. Once this has been accomplished, it is time for the Texas entrepreneur to finalize whether to sell or produce the product. Again, an attorney who specializes in patent law can be a critical asset in this decision-making process.
When it comes to protecting intellectual property, innovators have four different options: trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, or patents. Copyrights protect original works of authorship, while trademarks protects specific symbols, words, phrases, or designs. Trade secrets safeguard business information, particularly in terms of manufacturing. And, of course, patents are made to protect discoveries and inventions.
If you've created an incredible invention, you may decide to go through the patent process in order to preserve your design and ensure no one can replicate it. But obtaining patent protection isn't always straightforward. You'll need to follow the tips below if you want a good chance of securing a patent.
Make No Assumptions When you've spent a long time working on an invention, everything about it probably seems obvious to you. But when you start your patent application, you must remember that nothing will seem obvious to a reader. Don't make assumptions about what they may or may not know about your invention, the applications for it, or even your industry. You cannot rely on the reader to fill in any missing information or draw conclusions about what you've created. When working on your application, you should think of your audience as intelligent but with no particular expertise. This will keep you from "talking down" to the reader yet will ensure they gain a complete understanding.
Describe the What, How, and Why Some inventors will make the mistake of detailing how their creations will be used and why they're necessary, but forget to focus on the actual structure of the item itself. Remember that design purpose is helpful, but it's not enough on its own. Providing detailed drawings isn't sufficient, either. You'll need to describe the product itself in detail (even if it feels quite apparent to you) in addition to how it is used and why it's important.
Start Broad, Then Get Specific When filing for a patent, you may be inclined to state everything in a general way so that your patent could apply in many situations and applications. Most likely, this won't work in your favor. You might also think it's better to be extremely precise and detail very specific examples in which your invention might be used. While specifics are important, you need to be careful of boxing yourself in. Getting too specific early on could lead to oversights and limitations of your patent. The solution for both of these situations is to start out with a general description -- a broader scope of your invention itself -- and follow it up with more specific details about how it can and will be used. You really do need both to ensure your application will be granted and that the patent will provide the protection you actually need.
Take Everything Literally When applying for patents, inventors need to remember that their words matter. Choosing the wrong word or term can have significant consequences. A very famous U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision found that a Chef America patent contained the phrase, "heat the dough to 450 degrees." This phrase implies that the dough's internal temperature needed to reach 450 degrees, instead of what was actually intended -- that the oven reach 450 degrees. Keep in mind that everything you write in your patent will be taken literally. This is not the time to use popular turns of phrases or make silly diction mistakes. When writing and reading over your patent application, it may help to picture your audience as alien visitors to Earth. Make sure nothing you say can be misinterpreted. Your patent lawyer can ensure your choices in wording can't be taken the wrong way.
Don't Wait Too Long Patent applications are time-sensitive. Once you publicly reveal your invention, you have only a year to file the application. Public disclosure refers to discussing your invention at a trade show, launching advertising, or putting it up on a website. You should keep your invention under wraps until you're ready to file. Otherwise, you might be taking a big risk.
If you need help filing for patents to ensure your inventions are protected, we're here to help. Contact us today for more information.
Throughout the normal course of business, companies compete with each other for the customer's business. As a part of this process, the Texas business often attempts to find a way to deliver a product with either actual or perceived value to the customer. In an attempt to protect their business, companies often refer to patent law strategies as a way to get ahead of the competition.
As a part of developing products, companies often look to what is already available in the market. Through this process, they are often able to generate ideas and new technology for their customer base. Depending upon the way the product is then developed and the utilization of ideas and technology is developed by other companies, some companies find themselves embroiled in patent infringement claims.
Over the past few years, Sprint and Cox Communications have been involved in a patent law dispute. Sprint first filed for patent infringement against Cox, claiming infringement on 12 patents. Cox later disputed Sprint's allegations and then asserted that Sprint had actually violated two of their patents. The companies became embroiled in a legal dispute spanning several years. Reports now indicate that the two companies have reached a settlement and are looking forward to strengthening the relationship between the two companies.
Patent law disputes can take up a significant amount of time and resources. However, when there are concerns and the Texas company believes that another company has violated one or more of its patents, it may be time to take legal action. Experienced legal counsel can review the situation and offer recommendations regarding the best way to proceed.
A brilliant idea can be sparked by a variety of things. Perhaps a Texas businessperson is using a tool and suddenly recognizes a better way to perform the task. Based upon this recognition, he or she may decide to pursue the idea and invent a new tool or product. When this happens, the individual may benefit from discussing the matter with a patent law attorney in order to seek patent protection for the new tool, product or idea.
Once the spark is lit and excitement strikes, the individual will want to begin the development phase. At this point, it is a good idea to keep a record or the idea and all work completed towards bringing it to fruition. In addition to maintaining this record, one will want to have at least two trusted witnesses sign off on it, stating that they have witnessed the individual's invention.
Throughout the development process, an accurate record of what work was completed, how it was completed and who completed it is important. This data may become necessary in proving ownership of the idea and the patent application process. Again, the inventor will want to have trusted witnesses acknowledge this continuing record.
New ideas, tools and products can prove to be financially lucrative. For this reason, the Texas inventor will want to make sure that the invention is protected under patent law. Experienced legal counsel can work with the individual to make sure that the proper steps are taken to protect the idea and the future profitability of the invention.
When you first get an idea for an invention, it may feel like nothing stands in your way. But one of the key obstacles that all inventors must face is actually proving that your invention is unique. For an invention to receive a patent it must meet three criteria: usefulness, novelty, and non-obviousness. And to ensure that your invention meets these criteria, you can start by performing a prior art search.
While many inventors forget this step, many patent lawyers will recommend that you perform this search.
What is a prior art search? By performing a prior art search, an inventor can ensure that their product is original. Through this search, you can find out whether your invention is already known in some way. This can be in the form of a design, concept, or actual invention. It can also involve anything that is similar to your invention. Patent lawyers can help you through this process and identify whether there is prior art for your invention. While this process may make it more difficult to obtain patents, it can also ensure that only original ideas hit the market.
Why is a prior art search important? For most inventors, conducting a prior art search is a significant time and money saver. By checking for prior art, an inventor can avoid going through the patent filing process. You can also avoid facing any lawsuits that come as a result of copyright or trademark violations. You want to use your patent budget with intention, so a prior art search can set the groundwork for this process.
Since the patent process is so strict, it's essential to work with an attorney. By doing so, you can protect your assets and ensure that you are working toward a patent in the most efficient way possible. You can then get closer to securing your patent and making your invention a reality -- without facing lawsuits in the process.
Looking for a patent lawyer? DFW Patent Law has the experience you can trust. Our qualified team has a vast knowledge of patent law and is here to work with you. Contact us today for a consultation.
When inventors come up with new ideas, those ideas may come a little at a time. For example, a Texas inventor may have a plan for a new technology but may not have developed a precise use for the technology. Patent law protects the first person to file for a patent, not the first person to conceive of an idea.
The creative minds behind Disney continue to astound. Fans of Star Wars may be especially intrigued by the recent project for which Disney has filed for a patent. Although incomplete, the project for the patent filed earlier this month promises to fulfill the dreams of many if Disney brings it to fruition.
Using interactive technology and augmented reality, Disney has plans for a realistic lightsaber that guests to the park may be able to use to defend themselves from drones that will fly above them in an interactive experience. It is uncertain whether these mock battles will take place outdoors or within a special arena. However, Disney saw great success with its virtual reality experience based on "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."
Texas fans may wonder why Disney rushed to file a patent on a product for which there is no ultimate plan. However, since patent law protects the rights of the person or entity who files first, Disney likely wanted to be certain no one stumbled upon the technology before Disney had a chance to profit from it. Similarly, those who have inventions they believe are worth protecting may benefit from seeking patents, and an intellectual property attorney can provide the right support and guidance.
Ideas are the driving force behind new innovations and technology. Someone comes up with an idea, develops it, patents it and brings it to the consumer. As the Texas consumer grasps onto the new idea, the company's market share and profitability increase. Along with this financial increase, there is typically also an increase in competition. Fortunately, patent law offers protection to the patented intellectual property.
The idea for household help has been around for generations. From this basic idea, a number of tools have been created. One of the more recent innovations involves machines that will vacuum on their own. The devices are left on a charging station and at a set time, they automatically begin roaming the home or building and vacuuming the floor.
This concept has proved attractive to both consumers and competitors. In fact, iRobot has filed complaints alleging that its competitors are violating its patent on the Roomba vacuum. Black and Decker has reached an agreement with iRobot and will no longer sell its product for a set time period once its inventory has been reduced. There are still at least three other companies listed in iRobot's patent law violation complaint.
While patent law does offer protection, there are still instances in which companies attempt to utilize another's patented idea or technology. In some cases, the Texas patent holder remains unaware of the infringement; in other cases, the matter will be taken before the courts or settled between the parties. Experienced legal counsel can be invaluable in protecting the company and its market share when patent disputes become an issue.
Specific products are often created for a specific purpose and to meet a specific need. Sometimes ideas for a new or improved product suddenly become apparent; some ideas are born from experience with another product. Once the new or improved idea begins to take shape, the Texas product's developer will often take measures to protect the idea and new product. This protection is often under the auspices of patent law with the filing of a patent on the product.
Sports equipment is no exception to this standard business practice. In fact, many companies throughout the golfing industry go to great lengths to improve the irons, woods, drivers and balls that professional and amateur golfers use. These improved products often drive a company's business and its profits.
Recently, PXG and TaylorMade have accused each other of patent infringement. PXG has accused TaylorMade of infringing upon eleven patents owned by PXG. Likewise, TaylorMade has accused PXG of infringing upon seven patents that it owns. Each company has filed legal claims and counterclaims against the other company. In addition to the upcoming court battle, it has been suggested that each company will also approach the question of whether the technology and product should have received a patent to begin with.
Product development is often a considerable expense to companies; however, it can also bring in considerable profits to the Texas company. Yet, when the new ideas begin to appear in products made by other companies, the profit potential decreases. For this reason, many companies seek to protect their developments through the patent process. Companies or individuals interested in protecting such development will want to seek the guidance of an experienced patent law attorney.