US Intellectual Property
Important Note
This page is meant to provide some basic information of the patent, trademark, and copyright processes. Other work may be involved in specific situations. I will be happy to discuss with whether we can set up a client relatinoship so that we can discuss your specific situation and provide you with both a plan of action and a fee quote for carrying out the plan.

Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights
PATENT

The patent system was designed, in part, to encourage the development of technology by giving inventors exclusive rights to their inventions for a period of 20 years from the date of filing to protect the way the patented invention works (the "process" or "method") or is made (the "product" or "apparatus"), and 14 years in the case of design patents, which protect the appearance of ornamental designs for products or apparatuses. During the lifetime of the patent, the owner has the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the subject matter of the patent.

Patent protection can be obtained on new inventions and on new improvements to old inventions. An improvement generally is defined as adding to or altering an existing item resulting in an increased efficiency without a destruction of identity. In other words, making an existing item better. To be entitled to patent protection, an invention or improvement must be: (1) new; (2) non-obvious; and (3) useful.

The United States federal patent process can be divided into five (5) discrete steps:

1. Search
2. Application
3. Prosecution
4. Issuance
5. Maintenance

Each step involves its own set of tasks, legal fees, and/or government fees of which you should be aware. Please refer to Technoprops Fee Schedule for a more detailed breakdown of these tasks and fees. Once you have started the patent process, in general you may stop at any time and incur no additional fees or costs.

I consider each of the five (5) steps listed above as discrete matters of legal work and will not move from one step to the next without your express approval and instructions. This protects you in that you will not be charged for legal work and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fees for work that you did not approve or want. This also protects me in that you will not expect me to perform additional tasks without your express approval and instructions.

1. Search. This optional step typically is performed to give you a preliminary indication of whether an invention is patentable. Lower level or preliminary screening searches are useful for determining whether further development of an invention is advisable when you are in the first stages of developing the invention. Higher level or full searches are useful for determining whether your completed or nearly completed invention is indeed patentable. The fees involved include the costs for the search and the legal fees for preparing an opinion letter.

2. Application. This step involves the actual drafting and filing in the USPTO of the patent application. Each patent application is an original document disclosing in detail the invention, its preferred embodiments, and its best mode of operation. The fees involved include the USPTO filing fees and the legal fees for preparing the patent application.

3. Prosecution. This step involves the written and oral discussions with the USPTO during the examination of the patent application. Once the patent application is filed in the USPTO, it is examined by the USPTO to determine whether the invention is patentable. The USPTO can refuse the patent application for a number of reasons, which are sent to us in the form of an Office Action. We then are given the opportunity to file a Response to the Office Action to try to convince the USPTO the invention is patentable. The fees involved include the legal fees for reviewing and reporting the Office Action and for preparing and filing a Response to the Office Action.

4. Issuance. This step involves effecting the issuance of the Letters Patent. If and when the patent application is approved by the USPTO, upon the completion of the process and the payment of the issue fee, the USPTO will issue the Letters Patent. The fees involved include the USPTO issuance fees and the legal fees for effecting issuance and reporting the details of the Letters Patent.

5. Maintenance. This step also is referred to as Post-Issuance and involves maintaining the Letters Patent to prevent its lapsing or cancellation. Once a Letters Patent issues, maintenance fees are required to be paid at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years from the date of issuance. The fees involved include the USPTO maintenance fees and the legal fees for submitting the maintenance fees.


TRADEMARK

A trademark or service mark is a form of property, much like your car or house, but which has no value apart from the goods or services to which it is applied. Trademarks and service marks may be words, slogans, symbols, initials, designs, melodies, or almost anything else used by you to distinguish your goods or services from those of others. The value of a trademark or service mark lies in the "goodwill" generated as the mark is used and becomes associated with you as the goods manufacturer or service provider and your standards of quality. In other words, your trademark or service mark indicates that your goods or services originate from you, and are subject to your standards of quality.

Properly used trademarks and service marks can last forever. Currently, United States trademark registrations are valid for 10 years and can be renewed as long as the mark is in use. Trademark and service mark registrations also are a valuable form of protection for your mark, putting the public on notice that the mark is your property. Without a registration, it is possible, in some circumstances, for others to use your mark or a mark similar to yours, thereby trading on the goodwill you have built up over the years, or lowering the value of your mark if the other entity provides lower quality goods or services. As such, a trademark or service mark can be as valuable to you as your products or services themselves, and should be given the respect and protection it deserves.

The United States federal trademark registration process can be divided into five (5) discrete steps:

1. Search
2. Application
3. Prosecution
4. Issuance
5. Maintenance

Each step involves its own set of tasks, legal fees, and/or government fees of which you should be aware. Please refer to Technoprops Fee Schedule for a more detailed breakdown of these tasks and fees. Once you have started the trademark registration process, in general you may stop at any time and incur no additional fees or costs.

I consider each of the five (5) steps listed above as discrete matters of legal work and will not move from one step to the next without your express approval and instructions. This protects you in that you will not be charged for legal work and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fees for work that you did not approve or want. This also protects me in that you will not expect me to perform additional tasks without your express approval and instructions.

1. Search. This optional step typically is performed to give you a preliminary indication of whether a mark is available for use and/or registration. Lower level or knock out searches are useful for eliminating marks from further consideration when you are in the first stages of selecting a mark or have several marks from which you are going to choose one or two. Higher level or full searches are useful for determining whether your favorite marks are available for your use. The fees involved include the costs for the search and the legal fees for preparing an opinion letter.

2. Application. This step involves the actual drafting and filing in the USPTO of the trademark application. If you already are using the mark in connection with goods or services, an actual use trademark application is filed. If you are not yet using the mark in connection with goods or services, but have a good faith intent to use the mark in connection with goods or services in the near future, and intent to use trademark application is filed. The fees involved include the USPTO filing fees and the legal fees for preparing the trademark application.

3. Prosecution. This step involves the written and oral discussions with the USPTO during the examination of the trademark application. Once the trademark application is filed in the USPTO, it is examined by the USPTO to determine whether the mark is registrable. The USPTO can refuse the trademark application for a number of reasons, which are sent to us in the form of an Office Action. We then are given the opportunity to file a Response to the Office Action to try to convince the USPTO the trademark application is acceptable. The fees involved include the legal fees for reviewing and reporting the Office Action and for preparing and filing a Response to the Office Action.

4. Issuance. This step involves effecting the issuance of the Certificate of Registration. If and when the trademark application is approved by the USPTO, the mark will be Published for Opposition by the USPTO. If someone opposes registration, other steps must be taken, involving sometimes significant additional tasks and fees. If no one opposes registration, the trademark application will be allowed and the USPTO will issue a Certificate of Registration. The fees involved include the legal fees for reporting the publication details, and for effecting the issuance and reporting the details of the Certificate of Registration.

5. Maintenance. This step also is referred to as Post-Issuance and involves maintaining the Registration to prevent its lapsing or cancellation. Once a Certificate of Registration issues, various Declarations must be made to keep the Registration in effect. Also, Registrations are for ten (10) year terms, which may be renewed for successive ten (10) year terms as long as the mark is still in use. The fees involved include the USPTO fees for filing the various Declarations and for renewing the Registration, and the legal fees for preparing and filing the various Declarations and Renewal Applications.


COPYRIGHT

Copyright protection is available for works of authorship, whether literary, artistic, musical, or otherwise. Under the federal laws, the author of a copyrightable work is protected as soon as a work is embodied in a tangible medium, such as paper, a phonorecord, or magnetic recording devices, such as cassette tapes. The federal law also requires that, in order for this protection to remain, on any publicly distributed copy of a work of authorship a copyright "notice" must be affixed consisting of: (1) the copyright symbol, the word "Copyright", or the abbreviation "Copr."; and (2) the date of first publication (with some exceptions); and (3) the name of the copyright owner.

"Useful articles", that is, articles that have an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information, are not copyrightable. In general, copyright may be claimed only in an artistic work that can be identified separately from, and is capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article. For example, an artistic design imprinted on a fabric generally may be copyrightable, while the design of a dress using the fabric generally is not copyrightable.

Copyright protection has three basic limitations. First, a copyright protects only against copying the copyrighted work and does not prohibit independent creation of the same or a similar work. Second, a copyright protects only the expression of the idea and not the idea itself and does not prohibit copying the idea of the copyrighted work. Third, a copyright protects only the expression of facts and not the facts themselves.

The United States federal copyright process can be divided into four (4) discrete steps:

1. Search
2. Application
3. Prosecution
4. Issuance

Each step involves its own set of tasks, legal fees, and/or government fees of which you should be aware. Please refer to Technoprops Fee Schedule for a more detailed breakdown of these tasks and fees. Once you have started the copyright process, in general you may stop at any time and incur no additional fees or costs.

I consider each of the four (4) steps listed above as discrete matters of legal work and will not move from one step to the next without your express approval and instructions. This protects you in that you will not be charged for legal work and United States Copyright Office fees for work that you did not approve or want. This also protects me in that you will not expect meto perform additional tasks without your express approval and instructions.


1. Search. This optional step may be performed to give you a preliminary indication of whether a work of authorship is copyrightable. In general, clients do not have searches performed because copyright applications are not compared to previously copyrighted works of authorship, but are reviewed only to determine whether the work of authorship falls under the statutory definition of copyright and whether the copyright application has been properly completed The fees involved include the costs for the search and the legal fees for preparing an opinion letter.

2. Application. This step involves filling out the proper copyright application form and filing it in the Copyright Office. There are different application forms for the different types of works of authorship (such as books, photographs, sculpture and computer software, for example). The application, the filing fee, and two (2) copies of the work of authorship are submitted to the Copyright Office. The fees involved include the Copyright Office filing fees and the legal fees for preparing the patent application.

3. Prosecution. This step involves the written and oral discussions with the Copyright Office during the examination of the copyright application. Once the copyright application is filed in the Copyright Office, it is examined by the Copyright Office to determine whether the work of authorship is subject to copyright protection and whether the application form has been properly completed. The Copyright Office can refuse the patent application for several reasons, which are sent to us in the form of an Office Action. We then are given the opportunity to file a Response to the Office Action to try to convince the Copyright Office the work of authorship is copyrightable. Prosecution before the Copyright Office typically is very limited. The fees involved include the legal fees for reviewing and reporting the Office Action and for preparing and filing a Response to the Office Action.

4. Issuance. This step involves effecting the issuance of the Certificate of Registration. If and when the Copyright Office approves the copyright application, the Copyright Office will issue the Certificate of Registration. The fees involved include the legal fees for effecting issuance and reporting the details of the Certificate of Registration.