Intellectual Property Infringement: What Real Business Owners Need to Know


Want to learn more about intellectual property infringement to make sure your business is protected? This FAQ guide can help you learn the basics of copyright law, trademarks and confidential disclosure agreements.

Intellectual property infringement is a hot topic among small business owners. Throughout the active community lots of entrepreneurs discuss strategies to avoid violating intellectual property laws and how to protect their own businesses by using such laws. To make the topic a little clearer we created this FAQ Guide to intellectual property infringement, inspired by questions from the community.

What is covered under the category of intellectual property?

Intellectual property can be a written work, a work of art, a discovery, invention, logo or anything else that can be protected by patents, trademarks and copyrights. To learn more about protecting your intellectual property check out our articles on patent filing FAQs and how to apply for a copyright online. For information on filing for a trademark, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website.

How can I seek out partnerships and collaborative opportunities without someone ripping off my idea?

First and foremost, you should consult with a lawyer. Do not leave anything to handshake deals or verbal promises. There are several ways to protect your business ideas during the collaboration phase, including patents, provisional patents, trademarks and non-disclosure agreements.

If you're outsourcing production of a product, especially overseas, take extra precautions. In addition to doing heavy duty research on the legitimacy of the production company, consult with a lawyer who specializes in helping protect American companies that produce overseas.

What is a Confidential Disclosure Agreement?

A Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) may also be called a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) or simply a Confidentiality Agreement (CA). A CDA is a contract between different parties who wish to share information with each other but want to restrict the sharing of such information to a specific group of people or organizations.

How can I get investors to sign a Confidential Disclosure Agreement?

There's a lot of buzz about CDAs in the community. One common question is how to get investors to sign a CDA, but perhaps a better question would be whether you should ask investors to sign a CDA in the first place.

If you are seeking investment from legitimate investors and established VCs you may face some backlash if you ask them to sign a CDA before even hearing your pitch. Active investors hear lots of pitches and asking for a CDA can be a bit like asking someone for a prenup on the first date; it implies not only that you think your idea is better than anything they've ever heard, but also that they might be people who would steal your idea. Do your homework on your investors before you get to the pitch, make sure there are no potential conflicts of interest, and when in doubt ask your attorney for their opinion.

Am I violating copyright laws by quoting an existing work?

If you're working on producing a written work and you want to include quotations or passages from other copyrighted pieces you are not necessarily violating copyright laws, but there are parameters. The right to quote is what allows individuals to incorporate quotations within their work; however, to do so legally, the quotations cannot make up the majority of the work – there still has to be original content that brings value to the work. Additionally, any quotations you include must be properly cited.

There's also something called fair use law, which is what allows creators to produce parodies, criticisms, and other derivative works without asking for permission from the original creator. It should be noted, though, that including images or audio clips as well as written words is a completely different ball game from exclusively using quotations. If you're at all concerned about infringing on a copyright consult a copyright lawyer before you shop your work around to publishers.

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Three Things You Should Look For In A Patent Attorney, With Handy How-To Guide

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
June 3, 2013
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.

Getting a patent attorney or patent firm?  Get the name of the individual attorney who will personally do the work on your case.  You'll wish to know whether the patent attorney is registered; is qualified in the relevant technical arts; and has a successful track record.  The following explains how.

Why do we care about this?  Because once a patent application is filed, it will be examined by a patent examiner.  Most applications receive an official action with some kind of rejection or objection.  Many such rejections and objections can be overcome, some more easily than others.  Not every patent application is allowed, and therefore the skill of the individual patent attorney comes into play.  The patent attorney must be capable of making convincing legal and technical arguments in support of patentability.  And, the patent attorney must be skilled at claim drafting: amending a claim skillfully may overcome a rejection or objection.  Failure to skillfully respond can result in greater expense and may fail to result in obtaining an issued patent. 

Is your attorney/firm experienced, with many good results?  Since the attorney or law firm name is printed on the front of issued U.S. Patents, you can easily find out what type of patents they handle, and how many have issued.  You can find out by using the patent search feature on the site; type in the name of the attorney in the top blank.  It should find all issued patents with that name in it.  You can do this more precisely at the official U.S. Patent Office site, by going to that site and in the upper right corner click the button “search for patents” where you'll get several databases to choose from.  Select the first one, and a search box comes up allowing clicking on the “all fields” button and changing it to “attorney or agent.”


IP Tips for Startups

By: Mary Juetten

Startups and their founders have a lot on their plates and a lot of issues that loudly announce themselves as front-of-mind. You need to hire the right people — can’t hope to grow without them. You need an attractive, functional and professional website to create a positive first profession. Finding an office space is high on the list — not everyone’s going to fit in the garage on card tables. And customers, they’re pretty important too; that is, unless a billionaire benefactor is willing to buy you out without even proof of concept, but you should not hold your breath on that!

On that list of priorities, intellectual property (IP) probably rates as a middling concern if you’re somewhat conscientious of the topic, less so if you’re more of an ideas person content to leave the difficult business aspects of running a company to others. But intellectual property is as important as any other priority on your list, if not more so. IP represents the foundation, the backbone of your work; and often the bulk of the company’s value.

Ignoring your intellectual property is a mistake, and the well-intentioned procrastination we all engage in (“I’ll tackle that next week/next month/when things calm down a bit”) doesn’t equal action. The process of handling your intellectual property should start as soon as you begin laying the groundwork for your business. But where to start if you’re an IP novice? Here are some helpful tips for getting started.   

Identify. Clearly, you need to understand what your IP is if you intend to take the necessary steps to protect it. Most are able to easily point out the most obvious examples, the prototypes and other physical manifestations of what you’ve created or hope to create. But if that is the scope of your view on IP, you’re missing a lot. That logo you’ve created for your business is your IP, and as an identifying mark for your business to the public, it’s worth quite a bit to you. The same goes for the tagline you use for your product, or the copy you’ve written for your website. All of these things are valuable identifiers of you and your product, and all run the risk of being stolen if you’re not careful.

Identifying your IP doesn’t have to be a difficult or painful process. Sit down and make a list of all of your creative assets, whether you’ve used them or not. Once you have a comprehensive list, consider the status of each item; have you filed the patents, trademarks, or copyrights that you need? Are you keeping your trade secrets private? It should be a relatively simple exercise, but it is an important one for taking the next steps.

Remember this first step also is more challenging if you have moved into hiring employees or contractors as we outline below.

Protect. Once you have a handle on what your IP is, you need to take the necessary steps to protect it. It seems simple enough, right? But getting the right protection can be complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing.

The first step that many forget is to make sure that you’re not infringing upon anyone else’s IP. We often like to think of ourselves as entirely unique innovators, but there is always the risk that someone else might’ve happened upon the same idea for a product or design or logo. Before you go to the trouble of filing any type of registration, make sure that you’ve conducted a search of the respective databases for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office or the U.S. Copyright Office to see what others have already registered.


Get a Patent, Sue Competitors – Can it Really be that Easy?

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
May 27, 2013 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.

True, a patent confers a sort of monopoly.  Also true, one of the intentions of patent law is to reward an inventor with a competitive advantage.  But, exactly what does that mean, and is it that easy?

Patent rights are defined by their claims.  A competitor infringes a patent if their competing product has each and every recited element of at least one claim of the patent.  That competing product will still infringe if it has more elements, but not if it has fewer than recited in that claim.  Sometimes, an element in a patent claim can be stretched a bit by a court of law, to cover equivalent structures.  So far, so good.

But, there are defenses to allegations of patent infringement.  For example, the competitor might be able to show their product is the same as that shown by an expired patent.  So, expired patents can provide protection to your competitor, since once a patent expires it becomes part of the public domain.  Other defenses may also arise from a competitor's own prior patent.  Or, the competitor may be able to invalidate your patent, for example based on other prior art or issues of fraud.  Just owning a patent might not be enough in these cases.

Let's say your competitor does infringe, has no valid defenses, and cannot invalidate your patent.  Great, right?  Not so fast – patent litigation costs real money, sometimes big money, so if you sue it has to be worth it.  Small time infringement would likely result in very small damages, and your litigation costs could easily exceed the damages you recover.  It may pay to wait until damages have mounted, or it may be necessary to simply overlook small or token infringements.

If a big company infringes in a big way, it may well pay to sue them for patent infringement.  Let's say the big company is infringing, is making big money, and has no valid defenses.  They still have two main options: offer you a license fee, or engage in a long and protracted litigation and hope you run out of money.  The costs of litigation include discovery costs, motions and answers, depositions and interrogatories, and more.  That adds up fast, even if your litigation attorney works for free, which is not likely.  Contingency litigators are scarce in the patent field, are in high demand, and can command exorbitant rewards if they are successful.


Trade Secrets - Better Protection Than a Patent for New Products and Inventions?

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
May 24, 2013 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.

You can establish a trade secret overnight, but not a patent.  A patent takes longer.  And, even if you could, would it really provide much protection against copying by distributors, retailers, developers, or investors?  Here's a surprisingly useful answer.

 A trade secret has some big advantages.  It is effective against anyone you have direct dealings with.  The damages for a trade secret violation are not limited to direct damages – they can be large enough to justify legal action against even a small or token violation.  This is very unlike a patent, where it is necessary to show actual, direct damages; those damages tend to be somewhat small; and where it can be quite difficult to obtain punitive damages. 

 So, why isn't there a “trade secret” office?  And, why doesn't everyone go after a trade secret first, instead of a patent?  Excellent questions.  A patent protects your invention after it is no longer secret, and it affects strangers who may innocently infringe patent rights.  So, a patent is very worthwhile, once you've gotten a good start.  But until then, all you really have going for you are your trade secret rights.

 Let's see why there's no “trade secret” office.  First, you can easily establish your trade secret rights yourself.  How?  Start by documenting the materials you regard as your trade secret, and mark the pages “confidential.”   You can just mark the cover page as confidential, but more is better.  Whenever you show the materials to anyone, document that: write a note to yourself stating who saw the materials and when they saw them; and put a copy of the exact materials shown in an envelope.  If you have witnesses, write down their names.  If there were telephone calls or emails, note those; and so on.


Trademark, Patents And Designs

By: Legalnaija

For every business, building your brand is not complete without protecting your brand. As entrepreneurs or business owners, you work tirelessly to grow your brand especially as profits only begin to roll in after the brand has been established, and it has become an easy choice for the target market. However, it is commonplace for business owners to overlook the importance of protecting their brands or products.

Trade or Service mark, Patent, and Design are modes of protecting your brand or product (in any market, jurisdiction or territory). Be it a Trade name (a unique mark which differentiates your goods and services from those of other businesses and competitors), a Patent (which protects your new inventions and covers how things work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made) or Designs (which is an appearance of a product, its shape, patterns and colours) business owners need to protect their business, brand and products. Without these protections, businesses are at risk of losing ownership of their brands, inventions or products, or experience infringement on the economic rights attached to a business product, brand name and goodwill or other inventions and creations would be unlawfully exploited. Also, customers are at risk as they are exposed to counterfeit products that pose potential harm to them.

Quite habitually, most business owners do not believe they need to take advantage of any of these legal protections until their business brand has grown to considerable size or products have a large market, however, that could be a mistake.

A notable example is the 2014 dispute between Konga Online Shopping Limited and Rocket Internet GmbH Arnt Jeschke (an international investor in electronic commerce businesses which indirectly controls Ecart Internet Services Nigeria Limited, an online retail company in competition with the Konga in Nigeria and which carries on its Nigerian business under the trade name "Jumia" and uses the domain name <>). Konga had filed a complaint with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center on 30th May, 2014 contending that the disputed domain name '' is identical to trademarks in which it has rights, that Rocket has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Konga also contended that a co-founder of the Rocket had approached its CEO for a partnership deal with Konga which was refused. Since then Rocket had been registering the disputed domain name in several jurisdiction as a bargaining tool to force a partnership deal. In determining the complaint, the first issue for the Panel was the fact that the trademarks relied upon by Konga are applications only which do not appear to have proceeded to grant. The preponderant view of the panel was that until an application proceeds to grant, it does not constitute a trademark in which a complainant has rights. The Panel found that Konga had filed a Trademark application but had not completed the process, hence there was no registered trademark owned by it. Konga further relied on a common law trademark right which the Panel found to be non-existent as Konga failed to show that the name has become a distinctive identifier associated with its brand, its goods or services which it could not establish. Konga provided no evidence of sales under the trademark, media recognition, consumer surveys, advertising or similar which might show that the term "Konga" had become a distinctive identifier associated with its  brand, its goods and services. The complaint was consequently denied.


Myths and Misconceptions About International Patent Applications

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
May 9, 2013 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.

Wondering about filing an international patent application?  There are some myths and misconceptions about international patent applications, including what that phrase even means.  Let's talk about that.

Myth: an international patent application can be filed that, when granted, turns into a patent giving patent rights in all countries.  Fact: there is no such thing.  This is probably the biggest patent myth.

Misconception: a PCT application is like a US patent application, and can turn into an issued patent.  Fact: a PCT application is more like a bookmark in time, holding the date for other, later applications called “national stage” applications.   A short explanation about PCT applications is in the following paragraph.

Most would think “PCT application” (Patent Cooperation Treaty application) when talking about international patent applications.  Yet it is not a traditional application in the usual sense of that word, and so is a little tricky to understand.  A PCT application is like a US patent application in some ways: it grants “patent pending” status; it confers rights to its filing date as a priority date for filing other patent applications; and, it grants a period of time in which to file other patent applications.  However, it is unlike a US patent application in that it does not directly mature into a patent, and the time period conferred is different.

Misconception: a foreign patent is equivalent to a US patent.  Fact: the protection afforded by a granted patent differs widely among countries.  For example, a US patent confers protection that is considered very broad, and legal rights are as strong as other property rights.  In some countries, a granted patent may have little practical value, or may be costly to enforce, or may only cover what is specifically shown and not variations.  It is important to know the legal rights conferred in a specific country, before filing a patent application there. 


Intellectual property rights: Create, consume, own

By: Francis Gurry

What’s new in Indian cinema? A lot — and not just the latest releases. According to the latest figures, the Indian movie industry is now the world’s largest. At the same time, new technologies and global streaming platforms can help Indian films reach an increasingly global audience.

That’s great news for India’s creators and their fans across the globe. However, these developments are also throwing up fresh challenges for Indian cineastes and others in India’s creative sector, such as artists, musicians and writers.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) seeks to help its member countries harness these kinds of fast-moving trends and find innovative ways to promote the creativity of their populations in an increasingly transnational market for creative goods. According to a March 2018 report by Deloitte and the Motion Picture Distribution Association (MPA), India, ‘Economic Contribution of the Film and Television Industry in India, 2017’ (, India’s media and entertainment industry was estimated at $19.4 billion (Rs 1,26,000 crore) in 2017.

The report notes that India has the world’s largest film industry, in terms of number of films, with 1,986 films produced annually across 20 languages. And the sector has further growth potential. This kind of creativity is a driver for jobs, economic growth and development. Intellectual property (IP) rights — patents, trademarks, designs and copyright — capture the value of this creativity, as well the value in the wider innovative network for which India is equally renowned.

If there was any doubt about the growing importance of IP in the global economy, we can see that the worldwide increase in demand for IP rights is far outpacing the rate of global growth. And one only needs to open a newspaper to see that the treatment of IP rights in overseas markets is one element of trade tensions at the international level.

An investment in knowledge creation, supported by a robust and balanced IP system, is critical to any innovation strategy aimed at creating sustainable economic growth. But this investment must coexist with other policy objectives, while safeguarding the interests of all IP stakeholders — creators and users, alike. Achieving the right balance is a constant challenge for WIPO’s 191 member countries.

The WIPO secretariat provides a neutral forum where its members, in consultation with a wide range of other stakeholders, decide policy on the future of the international IP system, including WIPO’s global services for patents, trademarks and industrial designs that make it easier and cheaper to protect and promote products around the world. WIPO’s member country negotiators seek to ensure that these systems deliver tangible benefit to all countries, no matter where they fall on the development spectrum.

But the world turns quickly, with new technologies and business models emerging each day, posing new challenges for policymakers around the world. For example, copyright, which is the central mechanism to ensure that we continue to enjoy a vibrant culture, has been undergoing a process of reform to align itself with the realities of the digital age that has caused great disruption to the creative industries.

The global music sector saw 8.1% year-on-year growth in 2017, ending two decades of declining revenues. The global film sector also experienced growth. Market forces are, clearly, steering this sort of realignment.

Equally indisputable is the fact that there is no single, successful policy response to the challenges facing copyright in the digital age. It requires a combination of law, infrastructure, cultural change, institutional collaboration and better business models.

India is a regional leader in the creationand distribution of creative content and it has embarked on a digital transformation of its economy that has already begun to drive growth and investments. So, it is apt that the second Global Digital Content Market Conference is being held in New Delhi over the next three days starting today.

India’s globally renowned film, music, publishing and other creative sectors are adapting to the opportunities offered by new digital products, such as high-speed mobile networks, and channels, like Netflix, Amazon Prime and others. So, it is no surprise that India is taking a leadership role in ensuring that the digital revolution works for consumers and creators alike.

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Why Your Startup Company Might Need an International Patent Application; an Attorney's View

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
May 05, 2013 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.

Your startup company has a valuable invention, and you're considering filing a US Patent Application.  But, you're wondering whether or not to file an International Patent Application.  The answer to that depends on various factors, as follows.

Worried about foreign competitors sending infringing products into US market?  Your US patent application can stop them at the border if your file a complaint with the US Customs Service and meet the requirements.  So, if your market is strictly the US market, then you might not need an international patent application.  That might include a PCT application or an EU application.

Expecting a big success, or have investors expecting a big success?  Then you might just need an international patent application.  That's because you may be exporting goods into other countries, and would want patent protection in those countries.

When going after international patent protection, there are several ways to go.  There is a PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) filing, which gives a kind of patent pending status in any designated foreign countries for roughly 30 to 32 months.  This will require a national stage patent filing in the designated countries during that pendency.

Then there is an EU (European Union) patent filing, currently similar to the PCT filing.  The EU application is changing for the better in the coming year, by including all EU member countries for a single filing.  That is expected to represent a great cost savings.  Previously, I might not have recommended an EU filing in all cases, but I expect to highly recommend the new EU filing once it is available.


How to Ensure Protection of Intellectual Property

By: Raksha Tiwari

How to Ensure Protection of Intellectual Property

In today’s market scenario there is a lot of existing competition in every field. In order to carve a niche for your business, you are required to come up with unique and fresh ideas and make them your forte. In order to maintain your competitive advantage, you are required to ensure the protection of intellectual property.

Importance of Protection of Intellectual Property

In order to make sure that your Intellectual property is protected against all kind of infringement, you are required to take initiatives on your end. Simply registration of intellectual property is not the only solution as your competitors and other market players can work around it and come up with slightly different versions of it.

In such cases, this may seem like a total waste of effort on your part. But, don’t be disheartened. There are a number of other ways you can be vigilant and protect any kind of infringement of your intellectual property rights.

In this article, we will discuss different and effective ways for the protection of intellectual property rights.

Ways of Protection of Intellectual Property

We have listed out a number of different ways you can protect your intellectual property rights. Have a read and started to retain your competitive advantage in the market.

1. Register your Intellectual Property

The first and most important step is to register your idea or invention. This creates a legal right in your favor and discourages the other parties to use it without your knowledge and permission. In case any other party uses the same without your knowledge it leads to infringement of your intellectual property rights. Intellectual property registration is done in the following three types:

Patent Registration: Any new invention including product, any unique method etc. can be protected through Patent registration.

Trademark Registration: You can register the logo of your organization as a Trademark. Such trademarks help in brand building and your organization and products are identified through such trademark. Trademark is basically a combination of word, design, color or all of them.

Copyright Registration: This copyright registration helps in protection of original work of authorship. Such intellectual property rights can be created against published or unpublished material. Copyright covers books, films, music, movie, computer program etc.

2. Awareness relating to Intellectual Property Rights

Mere registration of your intellectual property does not mean that you are fully secured from any kind of infringement It is advised that you have a deep understanding of the intellectual property rights created in your favor and laws regulating them. You must have a strong internal policy to protect you IPR to make sure that no unwanted surprise comes your way.

3. Execute Non-Disclosure Agreements

It is wise to execute a detailed Non-disclosure agreement with the employees and partners who are exposed to the knowledge relating to your intellectual property rights. Parties ranging from employees, business partners, contractors etc are to be covered with such non-disclosure agreements. All the provisions relating to their obligation to non disclose along with punishments and fine in case of any infringement must be included in the agreement.

4. Continuous Innovation

If you are involved in the technology sector then even registration of your intellectual property does not provide you with complete protection. Reason being innovation is an evolutionary process. Thus the only way to remain on the competitive advantageous position is to maintain a relentless evolution cycle. This always keeps you one step ahead of your competitors.


How to Make Money from a Patent

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.

Attorney Advice on:  How to Make Money from a Patent
By Michael Foycik, registered US patent attorney
April 18, 2013 

I am often asked how to make money from a patent, and that is an excellent question.  There is the commonly known answer, and a lesser known but more important answer.  The common answer is, a patent can be licensed or assigned.  A license is similar to renting the patent, whereas an assignment is a sale of the patent.  A license can be sold to more than one company, for example.

The less commonly known answer, though, is far more important to inventors and businesses.  This answer concerns the patent application, which is not issued as a patent but instead is still pending.  Thus, it is known to provide “patent pending” status.  The question of how to make money from a patent then becomes one of how to make money from a patent pending.  This too is done by license or assignment.


Intellectual property risks for startups using crowdfunding

By: Sponsor

Crowdfunding can be a great way for a startup company to introduce new products, get paying customers and gain publicity.

Crowdfunding entails not only great potential, but also significant intellectual property risks that companies need to be aware of before launching a campaign. For instance, TikTok+LunaTik designed a premium conversion kit to make Ipod nanos into smartwatches. Great idea, so great that it quickly raised nearly $1 million on Kickstarter. Also, so great that because it did not have any intellectual property protection it was copied and the market was already saturated with knock-offs when it was time to ship.

Here are some general patent, design and trademark aspects to be aware of if you’re planning a crowdfunding campaign.

Patent risks

For an invention to be patentable, it needs to be new (not published before), inventive (a non-obvious invention) and useful (have industrial application). From crowdfunding point of view the challenge and risk is that most crowdfunding platforms require very specific details of the product. When these details are provided, the technical invention may become “disclosed” or “published” and is no longer patentable. This is a big risk in particular with respect of technical products (e.g. electronic devices) that require strong patent protection to maintain competitive advantage on the market. To avoid losing the patentability of your invention(s), it is important to file the first patent application before the campaign is published. Also, it goes without saying that it is important to check the patentability issues before the campaign.

The loss of patentability is not the only patent risk in crowdfunding. If somebody else has patented the invention your product uses, you could be liable for patent infringement. In 2012 US maker of 3D printers 3D Systems sued a company who had just raised almost $3 million on Kickstarter (they also sued Kickstarter for providing the platform!). The case was later settled and lawsuit dropped.

Design risks

Designs protect the shape and look of the product. For a design to be protectable, it must be novel (new) and have individual character (depart sufficiently from other forms and shapes on the market). As with patents, the novelty requirement means that once the product is published, it cannot be protected with design registration. However, this rule is not absolute, the European design law allows for a 12-month “grace-period” during which registration is still possible. The use of grace period is not without its risks. If another company introduces the same design (on purpose or by accident) that will be an obstacle for the registration of your design because your design will no longer be considered new.

As with patents, it is also possible that the design of your product (e.g. its shape) infringes on another company’s design rights.

Trademark risks

In almost all countries trademark rights are established by registering the trademark. If your product name is not registered, it is not protected and is open for others to use and register. Successful Kickstarter or Indiegogo project can make your product world-famous almost overnight.

We have had the displeasure of dealing with numerous trademark cases where our client’s trademark has been registered by somebody else in China. There are companies in China that scan the US and EU trademark databases and protect corresponding trademarks in China. We have not yet had any actual cases where a Chinese company registered a Chinese trademark after seeing the name in Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but we are certain that this is already happening and the first case is already brewing.

The cost of trademark registration is relatively small, but if somebody else registers your trademark it can paralyze your business. For example, manufacturing in China might be out of the question.

Without protecting your trademark before your crowdfunding project, you run the risk that manufacturing the product will infringe another company’s trademark, even if that other company has register your product name in bad faith.

Final remarks

Not protecting your intellectual property before your crowdfunding entails two types of risks. First, you might not be able to protect your intellectual property later. Second, it is possible that your crowdfunding campaign will infringe on other company’s intellectual product.

We wish you safe and successful crowdfunding. If you want to know if your trademark is registrable, you can do a free QuickCheck on our website at


How to Trademark

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.


- a word
- a phrase
- a logo

A US Trademark Application can protect a word, a phrase, a log, and even a color. This article explains how to trademark these elements.

A US Trademark Application requires at least the following information: the name and address of the owner; the mark itself; the type of goods or services to be used with the mark; and the type of use, i.e. actual use or intent-to-use.

If the trademark application is based on actual use, then the date of first use in interstate or international commerce is required. If the owner is a corporation, the state of incorporation is also needed along with the name of the person who has authority to sign the trademark application.

A trademark search is strongly recommended. Skill is required in interpreting the results, since even identical trademarks can be registered if they are in sufficiently different classes of goods/services.

To get started now:
No money is needed to get started. Once we receive the above-noted information for a trademark application, we perform a free, informal search of the trademark records and advise if a serious obstacle exists in the form of a prior similar trademark application. There is no cost or obligation for this.


SHOP LOCAL: Safeguard your intellectual property

By: David Eaton

Your business is likely to have a wealth of Intellectual Property (IP) – from the name on your door, to an innovative new process, design or product invention.

It’s this that distinguishes your business apart from your competitors, and as your business grows, so too will the importance of these assets.

Because IP is not a physical asset, it can easily be overlooked.

Safeguarding your IP is an important step in developing and maintaining a competitive edge.

When establishing a presence in the marketplace, protecting and managing your IP will give you ownership rights over important aspects of your business.

IP protection should stop competitors copying or stealing your unique ideas.

If you’ve developed a new product, service or idea, visit to check whether anyone else has registered the IP and if they haven’t, find out the cost for you to apply for the registration.

While there are seven types of IP protection, most businesses use patents, trademarks, copyright and design registration.

One of the most common IP assets overlooked by small business is protecting a unique business name – consider registering it as a Trademark to legally protect it throughout Australia.

Not all business names however can be registered as a Trademark.

There are 34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services to be considered – choosing the right class is important.

When starting a business, business owners often don’t see IP as a priority, when in fact it is.

IP is your unique selling proposition and could be the key ingredient to making your business a success.

With businesses constantly redefining themselves there is a greater need to protect your IP and your business.

For more information on intellectual property, copyrights, patents, and trademarks and how to protect your business visit or contact one of our experienced business advisers on 13 12 49.

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Why Trademark

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.


> to sell a business
> to attract investors
> to stop competitors
> to protect a web site domain name

What you can trademark:
 a word, phrase, or slogan
 a logo or design

Competitors can trade on your good name. Unless, that is, you have strong trademark rights. And what rights are those? The best trademark rights would be based on a federally registered trademark.

If you want to protect your company's web site domain name, you will need to be able to prove trademark rights in the name itself. There is no surer way than ownership of a federally registered trademark, which can usually confer nationwide rights.

There are other trademark rights too: state registrations, and common law trademark rights. Those may be very worthwhile too, but may not have national scope.

Common law rights sometimes require proof of instances of actual confusion, but even then there is a question of proving priority, i.e. who was first.

This brings us to federal trademark rights. In advertising, you may see a trademark followed by the symbol “R” in a circle. That indicates that the trademark is federally registered. A trademark followed by the symbol “TM” indicates that the owner wishes to claim common law trademark rights, or has other trademark rights.

A good trademark can help any business, and a successful one also attracts investors and can help when selling your business. Without a trademark, there is often nothing of value to sell.

Considering a trademark?
A trademark search is strongly recommended. Skill is required in interpreting the results, since even identical trademarks can be registered if they are in sufficiently different classes of goods/services.


Keeping Track of Your Competitors’ Intellectual Property

By: Kathleen Kuznicki

As businesses grow and develop, so does its intellectual property (IP) assets. And if these businesses are engaging in proper IP management, they are filing trademark and patent applications to protect their IP. However, because of the public nature of both trademark and patent prosecutions, one may get an inkling of their competitors’ business plans if they monitor these application filings. Though not a perfect way to predict the exact nature of your competitors’ future offerings, keeping track of your competitor’s intellectual property filings can be a guide to where your competitors are moving.

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes a source of goods and services. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows entities to file trademark applications before the marks are in use under the Bona Fide Intent To Use basis. That way, businesses can secure their branding before their product or service offering is fully commercialized. Pending trademark applications are available online for public viewing  approximately a week or two after their submission. Using the online database, trademark applications can be searched using the owner name. For example, if you do a search using Microsoft as the owner, you will find numerous pending trademark applications, many of these filed under the Bona Fide Intent To Use basis.   Some of these Bona Fide Intent To Use marks, such as Battle Toads, Eden Falls, and Screamride are being applied for as marks to cover video/computer games. This may indicate that Microsoft wants to expand its footprint in the video/computer game market, with the word marks potentially indicating the nature of these games.

Patent Applications
Another way to track competitors is to monitor their patent application filings. Entities apply for patents to protect inventions that they intend to become commercialized products. Before the America Invents Act (AIA), inventors were the applicants for patents and assignments were not always recorded with the USPTO, since it was not required to do so. However, as of September 16, 2012, the AIA allows assignees to be applicants, bringing the US in line with the rest of the world. And because of this, potentially more businesses have their names on patent applications. The USPTO and other databases allow you to search patent applications by assignee (or applicant) name. The caveat, however, is that patent applications are not published until 18 months from their priority date. So there is a blackout period where applications are confidential and not able to be found on the patent databases. But as it takes approximately three years in the US before an application becomes an issued patent (or becomes abandoned), it is still possible to track your competitors’ developing products, especially because it may take several years before a commercialized version of the invention is finalized and put up for sale.

Monitoring Intellectual Property
Businesses should either set up internal procedures to track their competitors’ Intellectual Property filings, or if they can afford it, outsource the tracking to companies who specialize in tracking IP. Tracking your competitors’ IP not only lets you know what your competitors are up to, but may also be a guide to direct your business’ product development. You can assess the quality of your competitors’ potential products and can compare it to your current and potential products. Similarly you can assess whether the market will become too crowded for a certain type of product (too many patent applications filed on similar inventions), or discover whether one of your developing products could potentially be infringing the claims in a competitor’s application which may ultimately issue as a patent, affording you the opportunity to “design around” your competitor’s invention.

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How to Patent an Idea

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.

How to patent an idea? There are several good approaches, as follows. Easiest: file a Provisional patent application ("PPA"). Advantages: low cost, low government fee, few formalities, true "patent pending" status, priority rights for any later-filed utility or PCT applications filed within one year. No examination occurs.

How to file a Provisional patent application (PPA): service fee is relatively low and very affordable; call or email for a quote for a specific invention idea.

Next up: file a Design patent application. Yes, it protects just the appearance of the inventive product or design, but costs much less than a utility patent application, has lower government filing fees, and often has better chances of success with the US Patent Office. Call or email for a price quote for a specific inventive idea, there is no charge or obligation.

Or, get a utility patent application on your idea. The Utility patent application is sometimes referred to as a regular application. It costs about three or four times what a provisional application costs, but should still be relatively affordable. It does require formal drawings, and will be examined by the patent office, possibly requiring a response. The chances of success are unpredictable, and vary depending on the invention itself and the specific examiner who examines it for the US Patent Office. Call for a price quote for a specific inventive idea, there is no risk or obligation.


Make Protecting Intellectual Property Your First Priority

By: Frontier Business

Protecting your company’s intellectual property rights is vital for your business. Copyrights, trademarks, and patents give you grounds to pursue legal action should anyone steal your innovations, but it is also imperative to prevent cyber intruders ahead of time by having digital security in place. A single cyber attack can eliminate your business’s competitive edge and can cost you thousands of dollars to fight someone who uses your company’s unique information without permission.

Below, we at Frontier have provided a few tips on helping protect intellectual property (IP) from hackers and other cyberthieves.

What Is IP?

The World Intellectual Property Organization defines IP as a “creation of the mind.” Those creations can include products, manufacturing processes, artistic creations, and company logos. Depending on the type of innovation, legal protection falls into one of the following categories.


Copyrights specifically cover artistic works, like novels, poems, plays, films, music, paintings, software, and logos that show artistic merit. Once an original work is created and “fixed in a tangible form,” it’s protected under copyright law—though copyright registration is required to file a lawsuit.


Trademark registration is the most common type of IP protection. It refers to unique logos, packaging, or symbols that the public associates with a specific company. Under common law, you hold the rights for any mark distinguishing your company as soon as you start using it, but registering it with the trademark office sets up “legal presumption of ownership.”


Inventors who want to protect their inventions from being copied or stolen can apply for the government-granted right of a patent. To be considered for patent protection, an invention must be useful, novel, and not obvious.

Once you hold a patent, no other company can manufacture or market your product, although you do have exclusive rights to offer licensing.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are formulas, devices, or patterns a company values enough to safeguard. Kentucky Fried Chicken, for example, classically protects its trade secret recipe within a locked vault. Trade secrets are covered by state law and don’t have to be registered, but you should have anyone working with such proprietary information sign a strong nondisclosure agreement.

Why Is It Important to Protect IP?

When IP is stolen, it risks a company’s existence. Every year, IP theft costs US businesses roughly $600 billion, and in 2016, half of business executives said their companies were hacked. It’s essential for businesses to protect their IP—there’s no shortage of hackers, insiders, and even countries employing everything from malware to botnets to web-based attacks to steal these valuable assets.

Vickie Papapetrou, a cybersecurity advisor at Ernst & Young, cautions businesses to accept that their security will be breached.

“Companies must identify their most important information and where this data resides. They must then monitor access to this data across networks, systems, and endpoint devices,” she says. “Other security tips include the use of threat detection and tracking software, appropriate access levels and login criteria, and storing files in backup copies to continue operations in the event of a ransomware attack.”


Ways To Make Money From Your Patent

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.

Ways To Make Money From Your Patent

Here are some ways inventors can make money from their patents. These come directly from actual successes of actual inventors, as told by the inventors themselves in published interviews.

It is important to realize that every invention is different, with different markets. And, different inventions tend to attract different types of investors. Focus on what makes your invention different, and the rest will be easier.

The Licensing Approach - Accumulating Licensees 
There are several approaches to gaining licensees. The following is one of the most successful approaches, where there are a number of different infringers. Where there is only one infringer, it may be necessary to threaten litigation, but that only works if the infringer believes you have the resources to do it.

First: identify which companies, products or services may be infringing your patent. Make a list, and try to estimate the sales of each one.

Then, line up the infringers by the estimated amount of infringing sales. Send demand letters to the smallest infringers, asking relatively small royalties. It would not be unreasonable to offer petty infringers royalty rates of 2%, or in some cases even a 0% royalty; all conditioned upon sales being below a certain limit.

As you accumulate more and more licensees, you will approach larger and larger infringers. The more licensees you have, the easier it is to sign on bigger companies as licensees. And, you can ask form somewhat larger royalty amounts. Having ten licensees, for example, is a persuasive factor to a company you approach for royalties, when that company is deciding whether or not to risk being sued for infringement. By this time, the royalty demands should be in the 6% to 9% range.

The largest infringers are saved for last. For those companies, seeing your list of licensees suggests you will have substantial reserves in case of litigation. It is much easier, by this point, to persuade them to pay the higher royalties in the range of 10% to 18%.

Market Your Invention the Easy Way – Consignment Sales 
If you are able to make products embodying the invention, it makes sense to make small batches of those products. Many stores will carry the products, if you offer them on consignment.

So, what is a consignment sale? This occurs when you offer the goods to a retailer for a period of time, say one week, and at the end of the period the retailer either returns the items or pays a percentage of the selling price for each one sold.

A reasonable rate is 25% for the first batch. If the retailer sells out, then they will want more, in which case it is likely you can get 50% of the selling price for that batch. If sales are very good, then higher percentages are attainable, up to a maximum of about 75% in many cases.

Why try this method? Well, it is profitable, and if one retailer is selling, others will want the product too. And, it attracts the attention of large companies, who have been known to offer substantial sums of money (in the millions of dollars) for the rights.