An important aspect of developing any intellectual property strategy and portfolio is deciding which method of intellectual property protection to pursue based on the advantages and disadvantages of each method. Plants may be protected through utility patents, certificates under the Plant Variety Protection Act (“PVPA”), and plant patents. Each of these methods has their own requirements with various levels of stringency for obtaining a utility patent, certificate, or plant patent, as well as different levels of protection, as will be discussed below.
Every company, but especially startups, looks for a competitive edge to provide an advantage over other companies. Intellectual property (“IP”) rights and the strategy of how to leverage them may separate a startup from other companies.
Because IP can be an essential part of a business and of significant interest to potential investors, startups often enthusiastically disclose their inventions, technology, and other IP when pitching to potential investors or at public events. However, pitching to potential investors or publicly presenting before protecting the IP can have devastating consequences for companies.
We provide below a few of the reasons why companies should consider protecting their IP before disclosing it to the public.
Congratulations! You have developed or launched an innovative new product or service, and your business dreams are becoming a reality. It’s all very exciting. One thing you may not have considered much, however, is whether your innovations or brand are susceptible to infringement in the international context. Will competitors try to make a knock-off product or steal your trade secrets? Are foreign companies going to ship infringing articles to the U.S. market? Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is key. Here are some fundamental suggestions to thwart such threats to your growing business. Continue Reading International IP Issues for Startups
Are your online trademark enforcements efforts being thwarted by inaccurate or inaccessible Whois data? If so, make your voices heard!
Problems with the accuracy and completeness of the Whois global database of domain name registrants are probably not a new thing for your company. We have all been there. You obtain the Whois record for an infringing domain name just to find out it is either registered under a privacy/proxy service or contains blatantly false contact information. If it makes you feel any better, know that you are not alone. The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) reported that inaccurate Whois complaints accounted for over 60% of informal complaints filed with Registrars between June 2017 and June 2018. If you have experienced the frustration of encountering inaccurate Whois data, be sure to report it to ICANN via its Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form, which can be found here. All complaints are forwarded to the sponsoring registrar, who must take reasonable steps to investigate and correct the inaccurate data.
While all soccer eyes are on Russia, a company in Reno, Nevada has filed two new applications for the trademarks WORLD CUP 2026 – FAN INFO and WORLD CUP 2026 – U.S. TICKETS, just one day after North America was announced as the host of the World Cup in 2026. Also interesting to note is FIFA’s pending application for the mark USA 2026 was filed almost one year before North America was publicly announced as the 2026 host. What does this teach us? A company can gather a lot of competitive intelligence about a competitor or an industry simply by monitoring the trademark records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). And the beauty of it all is that searching the records of the USPTO is absolutely free here. One simple search would have told the Nevada company that FIFA already has a registration for the mark WORLD CUP, likely a significant impediment to the registration of these marks. Continue Reading How USPTO Trademark Records Can Help (or Hurt) Your Competitive Edge
This week, the Federal Circuit resolved three issues left in TC Heartland’s wake. TC Heartland held that 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) uniquely governs venue in patent cases and is not coterminous with the scope of § 1391. The first prong of § 1400(b) creates venue in the judicial district where the defendant resides, which the Supreme Court held to be the state of incorporation for a domestic corporation. But, this begs the question: what about when the state has multiple judicial districts? Also, whose law governs burden under § 1400(b), and where does that burden lie? In the year after TC Heartland, district courts across the country split on these issues. Continue Reading Updates in the Federal Circuit Following TC Heartland
Congress’ passage of the America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011 created a new process for challenging the validity of issued patents. This new process is filed with the very governmental agency that originally issued the patent. Called Inter Partes Review (IPR), hundreds of issued patents have been invalidated, in whole or in part, using the new proceeding. On April 24, 2018, the Supreme Court handed down two decisions directly relating to IPRs. In the first, it upheld the IPR process as constitutional. In the second, it provided additional direction to the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (“PTAB”), which oversees and decides IPRs. Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules on Two Cases involving Inter Partes Review
On March 22, 2018, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum in which he announced the actions the United States will take in response to China’s allegedly unfair trade practices found by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in its Section 301 investigation of China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation. The actions are as follows:
Choosing a common or trendy name for your startup opens your company to risk. You might like the name “Company XYZ,” and you might think you’re the “Company XYZ” of your field, but “Company XYZ” might disagree with you. If you are looking to choose a brand or product name, you need to think about trademarks earlier than you think.
On February 23, 2018, in In re Silver, the Supreme Court of Texas conditionally granted mandamus relief and vacated the trial court’s order compelling production of emails between an inventor and his non-lawyer registered patent agent. In re Silver, Case No. 16-0682, 2018 WL 1022470 (Tex. February 23, 2018). The court held that a client’s communications with a patent agent, made to facilitate the agent’s provision of authorized legal services to the client, are privileged under Texas Rule of Evidence 503 (attorney-client privilege). The ruling marked the first time a state high court weighed in on the issue.