All business owners need to develop and protect their trademark portfolio. Denver trademark attorney Mark Trenner answered some common questions about trademarks in his most recent blog post. See the full article here:
Protect Brands with Trademarks
Questions Business Owners Ask
Contact Mark Trenner at 720-221-3708 to find out if we can help your business with trademarks.
Attorney In Colorado Discusses Patents vs Trade Secrets – Part 3 of 3
Interviewer: And what about trade secret?
Patent Attorney: The article offers a strategy, where the applicant for a patent files a non-publication request so that the Patent Office does not publish the patent. As such, the information can be maintained as trade secret. If the patent does not issue, or the applicant wishes to maintain the information as trade secret, the patent application is abandoned and therefore never publicly disclosed. Or when the patent does issue, it is protected by the patent (albeit no longer a trade secret).
Interviewer: So you’re not required to publish your patent application.
Patent Attorney: Generally, the Patent Office will publish your patent application 18 months after the filing date. But for those first 18 months, the patent application is maintained in confidence and cannot be accessed by the public. In addition, an applicant can file a request for non-publication, in which case the Patent Office will not publish the patent application unless and until a patent is issued. But an applicant cannot file such a request if the patent application is being filed outside the United States. Then, the application must be published.
Interviewer: I see, that’s kind of confusing.
Patent Attorney: Yes, and the article correctly explains that these are very important business decisions that should be discussed with a qualified attorney to determine what is best given a particular situation.
Interviewer: Thank you, I think that’s all we have time for today. For more information, be sure to visit Trenner Law Firm’s website at www.us-patentattorney.com and Mark Trenner’s blog over at www.ipatentattorney.org
Attorney In Colorado Discusses Patents vs Trade Secrets – Part 2 of 3
Interviewer: And what about patents?
Patent Attorney: Well patent protection is afforded by the government for inventions for a given time period – typically 14 years for design patents and 20 years from the filing date for utility patents. But this protection is granted in exchange for what is sometimes called a “limited monopoly.” That is, the patent owner has the exclusive right to make, use and sell the invention in the United States during the term of the patent. And in exchange, the government requires that the patentee disclose every aspect of the invention.
Interviewer: I see, so a patent is really the opposite of a trade secret.
Patent Attorney: In a way, because the inventor is required to disclose the invention in sufficient detail that someone having ordinary skill in the art can practice the invention.
Interviewer: Based on the difference between patents and trade secrets, the choice seems self-evident.
Patent Attorney: You mean that you can only apply for a patent for something you can’t trade secret – and you can only trade secret something that you can’t patent. Not necessarily.
Interviewer: I guess that’s why the article says “The Choice is not Always Simple” right?
Patent Attorney: The article supports what you just said – that in some cases that not every type of information can be protected by patent, or trade secret, or both. But as the article correctly explains, sometimes the information may be capable of being protected both by trade secret and patent, but not both at the same time.
Interviewer: How so?
Patent Attorney: The article explains that it may be wise to publish the relevant information. Publication should prevent others from applying for patent protection for the same invention.
For Part 3 of 3, Follow This Link: Attorney In Colorado Discusses Patents vs Trade Secrets – Part 3 of 3
Attorney In Colorado Discusses Patents vs Trade Secrets – Part 1 of 3
Introduction: This morning we are interviewing Denver-area patent attorney Mark Trenner. Mark has been practicing as a patent attorney in Colorado for almost 14 years; the past 9 years at Trenner Law Firm. While his practice focuses primarily on helping small businesses protect their inventions with patents, Trenner Law Firm assists clients build out all aspects of their intellectual property portfolio, including copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.
Interviewer: The National Law Review recently published an article that appeared in the Orange County Business Journal titled “Trade Secret or Patent – The Choice is not Always Simple.” Please start by explaining the difference between a trade secret and a patent.
Patent Attorney: Sure, a trade secret is anything that can be maintained as a secret. If it can be reverse engineered, then it can’t be protected as a trade secret. So for example, a recipe might be protected as a trade secret. Think of the Bush’s Baked Beans commercial.
Interviewer: Where the dog wants to give away the family recipe.
Patent Attorney: Right, and the owner always stops the dog just in time. That’s because if the recipe were to be broadcast on national television, it would be considered to be in the public domain and no longer subject to trade secret protection.
For Part 2 of 3, Follow This Link: Attorney In Colorado Discusses Patents vs Trade Secrets – Part 2 of 3
Register a Trademark to Maintain Your Rights
If you’re the owner of a new business or service and have come up with a great name for your business, you’ll want to protect it right away to prevent it from being used by others. What’s even better is that the process of registering a trademark does not need to be time-consuming and it can take just over an hour to give you exclusive rights to your chosen business name. Once you have registered a trademark you can put the ® symbol next to it to deter other businesses or individuals from using it without your consent.
Without registering a trademark, you may find it impossible to take legal action against someone who is using your company name. You will have to put a compelling case forwards to convince the authorities that you are associated with the trademark and that if others use it, your business could be harmed. Register it however and the authorities will be able to act if an attempt at stealing your trademark is made. Once you have registered a trademark, you commence ownership of exclusive rights to it, and you can even sell it if you wish.
Original and Memorable Trademarks
It’s important to ensure that someone else has not already registered your chosen trademark before you start to go about registering it yourself. In the US, you can use the online Trademark Electronic Search System database to see whether someone else already owns your proposed trademark or not. This can save you time, money and embarrassment. Generally, the first business to assume ownership of a trademark in a geographic area is automatically permitted to use it, but this does not stop someone else from registering it and finding the rights to it switched to their ownership as a result, which means that is extremely wise to register your trademark at the first opportunity. It is worth remembering that generic trademarks such as “The Music Shop” for instance may be harder to register, so it is worth attempting to come up with a unique and original trademark.
Register Trademarks without Fuss
When you do register a trademark online, you will need to provide the authorities with information such as the category of sales that you are operating as well as details pertaining to the design that you will be using. Once you have applied, you can expect to receive a response from USPTO – the US Patent and Trademark Office. Many people have found it helpful to seek advice and support from a patent attorney in the past to increases their chances of success. This is because these professionals generally have an in-depth knowledge of patenting law, and play a pivotal role in any successful attempt to register a trademark. If there are any objections to your application once it enters the public domain, you may face a tough battle, so it is always worth doing your homework to avoid copying someone else’s trademark by mistake.