What is a patent broker?

When a large company obtains a patent, they frequently have the resources that are required to put it to use. That is, they have a manufacturing division that will be building the new product. Or, perhaps the patent covers a small refinement to an existing product. In this case as well, the company will simply incorporate the new component into their assembly process.

However, it is not only multi-national conglomerates that obtain patents. Some patents are owned by individuals or a very small new business that is just getting started. What can you do with a patent when you don’t also own a factory and a warehouse?

Many options are available, such as licensing your patent rights to a company that wants to make your product or incorporate it into their existing product.

Another option is to sell your patent rights through a patent broker.

What Is a Patent Broker?

Imagine that you own a home that you would like to sell. In order to save yourself some money on Realtor commissions, you decide to list the home yourself.

The problem with this approach is that it’s quite a bit of work. Despite staging the home and holding several “open house” events, several weeks or even months go by without anyone making an offer on the property.

You start to get worried. A great deal of time and money has been spent trying to get this house sold, but nothing is happening.

Would it have been better to engage a Realtor in the first place?

A patent broker is kind of a like a Realtor for a patent. They use their business connections to try to sell your patent. Sometimes, this happens in an auction.

This sounds like the ideal set up, and in some cases, it can work. However, working with a patent broker usually isn’t the best option for a number of reasons.

Potential Problems with Patent Brokers

As in any profession, some patent brokers are more trustworthy than others. This is problematic because it can be difficult to know which broker can be relied upon and which one is really just looking after his own interests.

Consider that a patent broker is allowed to represent both the buyer and the seller in any transaction. This means that the broker isn’t wholly vested in making certain that you, the seller, gets the best possible deal. Obviously, this can be bad news for the patent owner.

Another problem is that patent brokers sometimes offer to buy a patent at one price, but then sell the patent to someone else at a much higher dollar amount. This represents a nice profit for the broker, though it hardly seems fair to the original patent owner.

Moreover, patent brokers may collect a finder’s fee from the buyer of the patent, which may again cause them to put their interests above those of the seller.

It’s also possible that patent brokers may share privileged or confidential information with a potential buyer. If you have data that you prefer to keep confidential, then you may not want to work with a broker.

Working with a Patent Attorney Is Different

When you engage a patent attorney, they are legally and ethically bound to solely protect your interests. Your attorney may represent you in a transaction, but he most certainly will not also be representing the other side, which would be a clear conflict of interest. The result is that you are much more likely to close a fair deal.

You attorney will always keep your confidential information private, even while negotiating a purchase contract, which means that you don’t have to worry about proprietary data getting into the wrong hands.

Just as critically, a patent attorney can provide you with valuable legal advice regarding the scope of your invention so that it can be implemented without infringing someone else’s patent.

Intellectual property lawyers even can assist you to explore patent monetization strategies that can help you put your patent to work while cutting out the expense and potential pitfalls of working with broker.

Work with Williams IP Law

If you have obtained a patent, then it’s vital to realize that this is a valuable asset to you or your business. Getting a patent is costly and time-consuming, which means that you are probably excited about the opportunity to actually start making a profit from all of your hard work.

Is engaging a patent broker the right step? It might be, but in most cases it is wiser to work with an experienced patent attorney like Jeff Williams who can provide the sensible guidance that you need.

If you are looking for a way to monetize your patent, contact the Law Office of Jeff Williams today.

Patent It Yourself

Patent Steps

Obtaining patent protection for your invention is complicated. With an understanding of the steps involved in pursuing a patent, inventors will have a better grasp of how convoluted it is. An intellectual property lawyer’s familiarity with this intricate procedure helps entrepreneurs to receive the suitably broad protection that their invention deserves.

Use this overview to familiarize yourself with the patent application system, then reach out to a qualified attorney for money- and time-saving guidance.

1. Understand Your Invention

The better you know your invention, the better your chances are of pursuing patent protection. It’s critical to identify the aspects that make your invention novel. Whether your invention has one novel aspect or is groundbreaking from top to bottom, you’ll want to know each of these aspects intimately so that they can be described and claimed in your patent application.

Scope is another crucial consideration. Examine whether or not there are other methods of building your invention. Brainstorm all of the possible methods of making your invention even if they’re not as effective as your preferred method.

Further, take some time to consider whether or not your invention could have a broader application. If the invention could be used for a purpose beyond the intended one, would it need to be modified?

Spending time on each of these aspects helps you to understand your invention, which means that you may be able to claim broader protection.

2. Research Your Invention

The USPTO won’t grant a patent unless some aspect of your invention is new and novel. Accordingly, it’s sensible to be aware of the technology that came before. This means conducting an electronic search through the records of the USPTO for any issued patents or published applications that may be similar. You also may want to use a search engine to find any white papers, brochures or presentations that may disclose similar technology.

This helps you decide whether or not your invention is novel enough to receive a patent. However, patent searching is difficult. Whether or not a reference will interfere with your ability to obtain patent protection may turn on an obscure factor. It’s always sensible to ask a patent attorney to conduct a patent search and provide their legal opinion with regard to whether or not it’s reasonable to pursue a patent.

3. Choose the Type of Patent Protection

By now, you’ve spent time thinking about and researching your invention. If you believe more tinkering is warranted, then you may want to file a provisional patent application. Such an application affords you an earlier filing date, effectively putting on record with the USPTO that you were the inventor of this item on this date. Then, you have one year within which to file your real patent application.

Your provisional patent application will never be examined, and it won’t become a patent unless you follow it up with a non-provisional patent application. This is the filing that the USPTO will review in detail.

4. Draft Your Patent Application

This is one of the most complex parts of the process. Get it wrong, and you risk being unable to obtain any kind of patent protection or detrimentally limiting the scope of any protection that you do get.

If you do plan to file by yourself, then it’s critical that you review the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure at the USPTO website. It’s heavy on the legalese, but it does lay out all of the required parts of a patent application. Follow it with great care, and you may have some success. We have also have another blog specifically on patent drafting.

Benefits of Self-Drafting

Below are some of the benefits of preparing and filing your own patent application:

  • You can potentially save thousands in patent attorney costs.
  • You are more flexible on when you file and do not have to wait on anyone else’s schedule.

Risks of Self-Drafting

Below are some of the risks of preparing and filing your own patent application:

  • Costly mistakes in preparing the patent application could result in the loss of some or all of your patent rights.
  • A significant amount of time will need to be spend learning how to prepare and file a patent application.
  • You may not be ready to file for patent protection in foreign countries within one-year of your patent application.

Patent lawyers spend years understanding how to draft a patent application and honing their skills. This experience enables them to obtain the broadest and most meaningful protection for your invention. Remember, the better written your application is, the more likely it is that it will be allowed.

5. Wait for a Response from the USPTO

Months or a year or two later, you may receive a response, called an Office action, from the USPTO. Examiners at the USPTO are lawyers who possess specialized technological knowledge. Accordingly, they may reject the claims of a patent application using legal terms and citations that are unfamiliar to most inventors.

It is nearly always advisable to ask a patent attorney to respond to an Office action as they can do so in a manner that is acceptable to the USPTO and also may be persuasive.

Pursuing patent protection is difficult. It helps to have a qualified legal professional at your side to take the mystery out of the process. If you do need help let us know!

We have also written a more in depth step by step patent process to assist.

How to Conduct a US Patent Search

Before filing a patent application, most intellectual property lawyers recommend that their clients authorize them to perform a patent search.

However, it’s not unusual for many clients, especially those who are extremely conscious of costs, to forego a search.

While this frequently is inadvisable, it’s by no means prohibited. There is no legal requirement that a patent search be performed before an application is filed.

Still, it can be useful to know before filing an application whether or not patent protection is likely to be available. Even more critically, it helps to know what scope of protection is likely available. For instance, is this truly a brand new, never-before-seen invention or is this a refinement of existing products?

If it’s the latter, then it’s helpful to be able to narrow down the valuable nugget of the improvement so that the claims can be directed to this subject matter.

What is a patent search, and how is one performed? Let Williams IP Law guide you through this complex subject.

What Is a Patent Search?

Sometimes called a patentability search, this is a search through existing patents and other documents that are available to the public. These patents and documents are referred to as “prior art.”

The purpose of the patent search is to find the prior art that comes the closest to your invention. Effectively, this is what an Examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office also does, looking for prior art that may be used to argue that your invention is obvious and not new when compared with the prior art.

While this type of search will not tell you whether or not your invention will infringe someone else’s patent, it can identify the closest prior art to help with a determination as to how patentable the invention is and which parts are unique when compared with the prior art.

The purpose of the patent search is to save the inventor time and money. After all, what’s the use of paying to have an application drafted, filed and examined if the invention has already been patented?

The cost of a patent search is far less expensive in comparison.

Can You Do Your Own Patent Search?

Some inventors decide to perform their own patent search to save some money. This may make it more affordable for them to proceed with the drafting and filing of the application.

If you’re interested in doing your own patent search, use these steps:

  1. Brainstorm descriptive terms
  2. Search CPC scheme at the USPTO website
  3. Review the classification definition
  4. Find issued patents using the appropriate CPC classification
  5. Review each patent
  6. Find published patent applications
  7. Consider broadening your search

Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.

Brainstorming

The first step involves writing a description of your invention. Try to be as specific as possible, and consider synonyms for any of the words that you might use to define or describe your invention.

Are there certain keywords or technical terms that describe your invention? It may be helpful to consult resources such as dictionaries and thesauruses to get ideas.

Searching CPC Schema

Now, it’s time to visit the USPTO.gov website. Use the search text box at the top right corner of the screen.

In the search box, enter “CPC scheme” and one of the keywords that you brainstormed in the first step.

The USPTO follows CPC classification schema. When you type “CPC scheme” into the search box, it will return results that include entries on the Class-Subclass Scheme page.

You can run this search as many times as you like, searching for other keywords to find the classification titles that look most relevant to your invention.

An example class/subclass classification or identifier might look like “2/456.” The two corresponds to Class 2, which is Apparel while the 456 subclass refers to Body cover.

Review Classifications

Some of the classification titles in your search results will be underlined. If so, then this title is hyperlinked to a CPC Classification Definition. These definitions are useful when it comes to establishing the scope of the chosen classification. Accordingly, this helps to determine if you have found the most relevant classification.

Clicking on these hyperlinks always is worthwhile because they may provide further search suggestions or search notes.

Find Patents Using the CPC Classification

Head back to the Home page at the USPTO.gov website, and click on the Find It Fast Quick links Patent window located just below the search text box.

This will bring up a link labeled PatFT under the Patents heading. Click on this link to go to the patent search page.

The CPC Classification that you found can be placed in the search menu under Term 1. For the Field, choose Current CPC Classification.

Click Search, and you’ll receive a list of issued patents. Click on the number or title of any listed patents to read the full text of the patent. Some will have an “Images” button that will give you a full PDF of the patent.

It’s wise to review at least the first page of all of the entries. If you find any that seem really similar to your invention, make note of them.

Review Selected Patents

Now it’s time to fully examine each patent that you made note of in your search. Pay particular attention to the drawings and claims to determine just how similar they are to your invention.

Find Patent Publications

Go back to the USPTO.gov main page. Once again, click on the Quick Links window, but this time, select the AppFT under the Patents heading.

This takes you to a similar search screen, but now you are searching for published patent applications which have not issued as patents.

The search process is the same as far as entering in the CPC Classification number and reviewing for the most relevant results.

Broadening Your Search

It may be wise to use the PatFT and AppFT search systems to look for keywords as well. Additionally, some inventors decide to look for foreign patents using the Espacenet website. This could be especially important if you have hopes of patenting your invention in other countries.

Patent Searching Is Imperfect

No matter who conducts your patent search, it is critical to realize that no patent search is perfect. It is impossible to find absolutely every reference that might have some relevance, and there may be unpublished patent applications that are not available at the time of your search but that become available by the time your application is being examined.

In other words, a patentability search can provide guidance and insight, but it is in no way any kind of guarantee that you will get a patent for your invention.

Opt for a Professional Patent Search

Patent searching is complex, and it usually is advisable to have a professional conduct the search so that you get the broadest possible picture of the prior art before you go to the trouble and expense of filing a patent application.

Contact Williams IP Law today if you have more questions about patent searching or filing patent applications. Our experienced practitioners and staff can guide you through the process of pursuing patent protection.

How long does it take to get a patent?

We outline how long it takes to get a patent and what you should expect throughout the patent application process.

When inventors attend a consultation with an attorney, it’s inevitable that they will ask, “How long does it take to get a patent?”

That’s a question that can be frustrating for even a seasoned patent attorney to answer. This is because there are so many variables at play.

It’s also important to remember that there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever receive a patent for your invention. It is a long, complex and potentially costly process. Ultimately, there may be no meaningful protection for your invention.

That’s why it’s critical for inventors and entrepreneurs to work with an intellectual property attorney right from the start. These professionals can advise you with regard to the potential patentability of your invention and perform a search to find out if something similar to your creation has already been patented. This can save you unimaginable amounts of time and money.

However, let’s say that your invention appears to be patentable, novel and unique. A patent search reveals that there’s nothing like it at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. How much time will it take to obtain a patent on that invention?

This depends on factors like the type of patent you are pursuing, whether or not you elect expedited processing, the art unit in which your application is reviewed and whether or not you can petition to make your application special. A closer look at these factors may help you to see how long it will take for you to get a patent.

Types of Patents

In the U.S., the three main categories of patents are utility, design and plant.

Utility Patents

Utility applications, which cover a machine, process or article of manufacture, are by far the most commonly sought.

Utility patent applications generally require the most time to process. The broader and more novel the subject matter of the application is, the longer it is likely to take to examine. If the improvement is close to known subject matter, then it is considered more limited in scope and likely will require less processing time.

Design Patents

Designs, which cover surface ornamentation or the appearance of an article, are the second most common type of patent application.

Design patent applications tend to be examined far more quickly because they are shorter and less complicated.

It is not unusual for a design patent to be issued within one to two years after filing. However, it may take anywhere from one to five years for a utility patent to be issued.

Plant Patents

The third category is plants, and these applications cover a specific genetic combination of an engineered plant species. A plant patent is granted by the United States government to an inventor who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.

Plant patents normally take close to two years for the patent office to grant or reject a plant patent application.

The Filling Process

A well-written patent application can be produced within a few weeks to a couple of months. The better written the application is, the more likely it is to be examined quickly and favorably. A competent patent attorney knows precisely what to disclose and how to disclose it to obtain the broadest and most meaningful protection possible.

Because the quality of the application is so critical, it is never a good idea for an inventor to write the patent application themselves. It is far better to trust this stage to a professional to save time and money.

Choosing Expedited Processing

Knowing that it can take as long as five years to move from application to issued patent, some inventors are opting for Track One Prioritized Examination procedures at the USPTO. Participation can move you toward final disposition of your application within just 12 months. It’s available for utility and plant applications, and you must pay an extra fee to request prioritized processing.

Art Units

Examiners at the USPTO are broken up into groups called “Art Units.” Art Units are categorized according to common types of technologies. Patent applications are assigned to examiners based on the technology involved in the invention. Some art units are busier than others. The more popular and complex the technology, the longer the processing times are likely to be.

A Petition to Make Special

If the inventor or applicant is over the age of 65 or is suffering from a life-threatening illness, then they may petition to make their application special. This provides them with expedited processing. No fee is required with these petitions, but documentation concerning the age or health of the applicant is mandatory.

Abandonment & Allowance

Abandoned means that the trademark application is no longer pending and cannot mature into registration. This will happen because you’ve given up on the pursuit or you lost track of the process.

In the application process the examining attorney will issue an office action letter to the applicant stating the status of the of the application. The applicant then has up to 6 months to respond if they want to continue through the process or the patent will be considered abandoned.

Closing

If you want to obtain patent protection for your invention, then it’s wise to work with a qualified intellectual property attorney. These professionals take much of the guesswork out of pursuing a patent, which saves you time and money.

What Is Patent Litigation?

When an individual inventor or a company is granted a patent, it means that they have the legal right to prevent others from benefitting from their hard work. Any competitor that is making or selling an infringing product may be sued by the patent holder.

Litigation is always a risky, expensive and time-consuming process. Nonetheless, it also is a critical component of protecting intellectual property rights. When two parties enter into a serious dispute, sometimes a lawsuit is the only way to settle their differences.

If you are a patent owner and you believe that your rights are being infringed by a competitor, then contact Williams IP Law to learn more about your legal rights and options.

What Is Patent Litigation?

This type of action is a lawsuit that is filed in civil, rather than criminal, court. Usually, these types of lawsuits are filed when someone who holds a patent believes that another person is using their invention without permission.

Keep in mind that litigation is not the first step in the process when infringement is suspected. It is common for a lawsuit to be filed only as a last resort after the alleged infringer absolutely refuses to acknowledge or address the concerns of the patent holder.

Most patent litigation matters only come to a lawsuit after months of back and forth between attorneys. Once a lawsuit is filed, it may be months, and most likely years, before the matter is resolved.

How Does Patent Litigation Work?

Neither party is likely to enter the patent litigation process lightly. Typically, a lawsuit only becomes necessary when both parties have dug in their proverbial heels, with both sides insisting that they are the rightful owner of the technology at issue.

Like other civil lawsuits, these matters begin with the filing of a Complaint by the plaintiff, who usually is the patent owner. Then, the defendant is required to file an Answer.

What follows is usually many months of research, depositions and discovery. It may be necessary to sift through thousands of documents, depose critical witnesses and locate experts who can help to shore up either side of the case.

Frequently, the claims in the lawsuit come down to whether or not the patent is valid. The patent owner naturally claims that their patent is valid while the attorney for the defendant must argue why the patent is invalid. This can be a complex determination that rests on detailed knowledge of technical and patent-related matters.

This is a complicated and time-consuming process. However, it’s also a critical component of any patent lawsuit. In fact, many of these lawsuits are settled at the discovery stage because some evidence or testimony comes to light that illustrates the validity of the claim of one party or the other. There may even be a mountain of evidence proving the claims of one party.

Even if such evidence never comes to light, this stage of the lawsuit can be a war of attrition. One party or the other may conclude that continuing the fight just isn’t worth their time and money. Occasionally, both parties reach this decision and come up with a settlement agreement that at least partially satisfies everyone.

Will Your Case End up in Court?

Like other civil litigation matters, most patent lawsuits never make it to their court date. If your lawsuit does go the distance, this means significantly increased expenses for both parties. However, if they are unable to reach any kind of accord before the trial begins, they are left with no other choice.

Do You Need Patent Litigation?

Whether you are an individual inventor or work for a company that owns an important patent, then it is crucial for you to protect your rights. Unfortunately, this sometimes means being faced with the decision to file a patent lawsuit.

Given that such litigation is costly, complicated and time-consuming, the representation that you choose matters. It’s essential that you seek legal counsel with the right kind of knowledge and experience to see you through the process from beginning to end.

At Williams IP Law, our legal professionals work with inventors every day. Not only do we help people and companies to obtain the intellectual property protection that they need but also we represent them when it’s time to enforce their rights.

With considerable patent litigation experience, Williams IP Law is the firm that you need when you’re concerned that your intellectual property rights have been violated.

What Does a Patent Attorney Do?

When most people think of attorneys, they picture them in courtroom appearances making dramatic speeches to a panel of jurors. The reality is that many attorneys rarely work in courtrooms, and there are even some lawyers who never appear in court at all.

The patent attorneys who prosecute patent applications are among these latter attorneys who essentially never have to make a court date. Instead, they practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Some patent attorneys also practice in patent litigation, which means that they may bring lawsuits that are heard by a judge and possibly a jury.

Regardless of whether they focus on patent prosecution or litigation, patent attorneys practice in a small, specialized area of law. In fact, not everyone who is graduated from law school and passes a bar exam is qualified to be a patent attorney.

Instead, patent attorneys are required to have a scientific or technical background. This usually means that they have obtained an undergraduate degree in a scientific, engineering or other technical subject area. After that four-year education, they proceed to three years of law school, at the conclusion of which, they must pass the bar exam for the state in which they hope to practice. Then, they must pass a test that is administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that frequently is referred to as the “patent bar exam.”

Typically, before taking the patent bar exam, a new attorney obtains employment with an intellectual property law firm. The experienced practitioners at the firm guide and counsel the new attorney so that he or she gets familiar with the patent prosecution process. This also provides essential preparation for passing the patent bar exam.

Once the attorney has the credentials to practice before the USPTO, they are a full-fledged patent lawyer and able to help clients obtain the intellectual property protection that they need.

What Does a Patent Attorney Do?

When an individual or company invents a new product or process, then they may seek help from an intellectual property attorney who can help them to obtain a patent.

The process begins with a meeting between the client and the patent attorney. The client provides details about their invention, and the lawyer provides insight into the patenting process, what’s involved, how much it may cost and how long it is likely to take.

The client decides whether or not they want to proceed with either a search or an application. Attorneys perform a patent search to determine whether or not there are existing patents or patent applications on which the proposed invention disclosure might infringe. At the conclusion of the search, the attorney can provide a more educated estimate with regard to the potential patentability of the invention.

If the client indicates that they want to proceed with a patent application, then the intellectual property attorney makes an in-depth study of the technological area and gathers additional details regarding the invention from the inventors.

An intensive period of writing ensues as the patent attorney drafts the specification, claims and abstract that make up the application. The specification intricately describes the invention and all of its possible permutations while the claims point out the specific elements that the applicant wants to protect. The abstract is a summary of the specification.

The Filing of the Patent Application

The patent attorney’s firm handles submission of the completed patent application to the USPTO. Eventually, the application will be reviewed by another lawyer who works at the USPTO as an Examining Attorney. It’s the examiner’s job to decide on the patentability of the application. If the examiner believes that the invention isn’t patentable, then they will issue an Office action.

This is where the patent attorney steps in again, drafting amendments and a response to the Office action, arguing why the invention actually is distinct and patentable. Relying on their training, patent lawyers make legal arguments against the rejections to convince the examiner to issue a patent.

Patent Attorneys Fight Infringement

Intellectual property lawyers who litigate are adept at enforcing patent rights with all of the means at their disposal. This may include filing lawsuits when someone else infringes a patent holder’s rights. Not all of these cases actually make it to the courtroom. In fact, many of them are settled well before they are brought before a judge or jury. Still, the patent litigation attorney provides helpful, knowledgeable guidance with incredibly complicated court cases, ensuring that patent holders are able to protect their interests.

Do You Need a Patent Attorney?

Obtaining patent protection requires knowledge of an array of technical and legal factors. This is why it is generally recommended that inventors work with a patent attorney when it is time to protect their invention.

The experienced practitioners at the Williams IP Law are skilled when it comes to helping individuals and companies protect their intellectual property. If you believe that you need patent protection, then contact Jeff Williams to schedule an initial consultation.

What should you know about music patents?

Is it possible to get a music patent? Patents are one option when it comes to protecting the intellectual property that you create, and they may not be the best choice when you want to protect a song.

Singers and songwriters who are interested in protecting their creations are encouraged to contact an intellectual property attorney who can help them to formalize protection of their work.

Is Music Intellectual Property?

Whether it’s the melody, the lyrics or both, music is intellectual property. Does that mean that you can get a music patent?

Not necessarily. To understand why, it’s critical to know the differences between copyrights, patents and trademarks.

Copyrights vs. Patents vs. Trademarks

Musical compositions and performances and recordings of those compositions are protected by copyrights. Registration of these rights is a simple and inexpensive process, but it grants the holder strong protections. If someone else uses your music without paying you or giving you credit, then you have the right to demand that they stop. These rights extend to lawsuits.

Patents are meant to protect inventions. Items that are suitable for a copyright are original works of authorship, but if you want to get a music patent, then you would essentially have to invent something new.

For instance, if you invented a new musical instrument that was unlike anything that people had seen or heard before, it would be appropriate to seek a patent for it.

Trademarks are set aside for protecting things like brands, slogans and logos. If you were in a band, then you might consider obtaining trademark protection for the band’s name or a logo that you use.

Copyrighting Songs and Recordings

If you want to register your copyright to a song or a recording, the process is easy. Most of it is completed online at the website for the U.S. Copyright Office. If you want to make certain that your application proceeds as smoothly as possible, then it’s wise to work with an IP attorney who can prepare and submit the application.

To do so, your attorney will need some basic information about you as the author of the creation and the work itself. You’ll need to provide data like the name of the song or album, and your lawyer will fill out the online form.

Filing online is more efficient and less expensive, so your attorney likely will use this route unless circumstances dictate that a paper filing makes more sense. Either way, it probably will take several weeks, and perhaps even a few months, to receive a copyright registration.

Is a Copyright Worth It?

When you officially register your work, it creates a public record of your rights and enables you to sue if someone infringes those rights. Depending upon when the registration was obtained, you may be able to claim statutory damages and attorney’s fees in addition to actual damages and profits. Moreover, registration can be recorded with U.S. Customs so that officials can watch out for counterfeit products.

Facts You Should Know About Copyrights

  1. Your work doesn’t have to be published.

Whether you publish your work or not, it can still be federally registered, and therefore is entitled to the full protection of the law.

  1. Your creation is protected for your lifetime and beyond.

Most published works that were fixed in tangible form after January 1, 1978 may be eligible for a copyright that lasts for 70 years beyond the author’s lifetime.

If you work for a company writing songs, then the copyright’s length may be even longer. This means that your songs are considered “work for hire.” Such compositions are entitled to 95 years of protection from the date of publication or for 120 years from the year of creation of the song, whichever deadline expires first.

  1. Protection is automatic.

You don’t necessarily have to register a copyright. In the U.S., your work is copyrighted as soon as it is fixed in a tangible form like writing it down on paper or making a recording of yourself singing it. However, registration gives you far more robust protection under the law.

  1. Sound recordings are not the same as compositions.

Imagine that you are a singer/songwriter. You’ve just written a song and recorded yourself singing and playing the guitar. This means that you may seek two different copyright registrations: one for the composition itself and a second one for your recording. If that song is used on an album or released as a single, then additional copyright protection may be available.

  1. Registration gives you rights.

The copyright holder has the power to rearrange and perform the work any way they wish. They can adapt it, reproduce it or distribute it however they like. It’s even possible to license others to do these things. The upshot is that a copyright registration keeps you in the driver’s seat.

Work with Williams IP Law

At the Williams IP Law, we practice in all areas of intellectual property. This includes patents, trademarks and copyrights. If you are curious about how to protect your rights, call Williams IP Law.

COVID-19 and Pharmaceutical Patent Law

With the COVID-19 pandemic being an issue that is impossible to ignore in recent months, it comes as little surprise that the race to develop a treatment or a vaccine for this virus is at the forefront of the minds of many innovators.

As individuals, companies, universities and governments across the globe strive to develop treatments and vaccines, several questions loom. If someone does develop a successful vaccine, should they be able to patent it? Or, should the formula be made publicly available around the world to allow even the planet’s poorest citizens to have immediate access to it?

While this debate remains at least partially theoretical in advance of the development of a successful treatment or a vaccine, this is an excellent time to examine pharmaceutical patent laws and their effect on the availability of medical treatments and vaccines.

What Is Pharmaceutical Patent Law?

Many people aren’t aware that new drugs frequently are patented by their creators. This means that the company that developed the drug has the right to prevent their competitors from making an identical product, and this means that the patent owner has reserved the right to earn profits from the formula to himself.

Eventually, all patents expire. At this time, which typically is after approximately 20 years, it becomes possible for other drug companies, including those that produce generic versions of medications, to make these drugs and perhaps offer them at a fraction of the price for which the patent owner was selling it.

Pharmaceutical patents are important to companies because it is risky and expensive for these companies to develop new drugs. Years of research, development and testing may be required, and the exclusive period of being able to claim the profits from sales of that drug help the company to recoup its expenses and turn a tidy profit. Moreover, the patent owner has the option of licensing their rights to other companies, which also can signal enhanced profits.

The downside pharmaceutical patents is that sometimes these drugs are incredibly expensive when they are under patent. Accordingly, people with limited financial means may not be able to afford access to critical medications.

If a treatment or vaccine could save lives, is it right to restrict the manufacture of this medicine to a single innovator or to charge a premium price for it?

Pharmaceutical Patent Law in a Pandemic

Over the years, large pharmaceutical firms have used a variety of more-or-less nefarious schemes in an attempt to extend their exclusive hold over patented drugs. With powerful government lobbying departments, they have sought to prohibit or minimize the manufacture of generic drugs.

Observers are concerned that if a major pharmaceutical company does develop a COVID-19 vaccine, that it will do everything it can to complicate access to it. The problem becomes more complex if more than one treatment or vaccine is developed. Then, there may be competing concerns that will make it even harder to dispense effective medicines to the world’s population.

This is why NGOs and certain pharmaceutical companies, along with biotech communities, are pledging to make public the results of their research and development into the treatment and prevention of the coronavirus. Accordingly, such drugs would be provided inexpensively or even at no cost to people around the world.

Similarly, the World Health Organization is lobbying to make research, treatments and vaccines publicly available, while some countries are proposing limited patent rights for treatments and vaccines that include mandatory licensing.

Vaccine Patent Law

Most of the vaccines that are recommended by medical professionals are far older than the typical 20-year term of a U.S. utility patent. This means that they are no longer subject to patent protection. Accordingly, they can be safely and effectively manufactured by a variety of companies without any of these companies running afoul of another’s patent rights.

However, if the currently hypothetical coronavirus vaccine is developed, should the inventor have the right to patent it? Some parties argue that the developer should have the exclusive right to profit from their achievement while others are convinced that the vaccine should be made publicly available to all.

Currently, various efforts are underway to make the vaccine available for the good of the world’s population. Time will tell if these efforts, and the effort to develop a vaccine, are successful.

If you are an inventor or entrepreneur with an innovative idea, then it makes sense to take essential steps to protect your work. Contact the Williams IP Law for an initial consultation to explore your options.