Once an individual or entity realizes and idea and files a trademark, patent or service mark, it is up to that indivisual or entity to protect them in question. The USPTO are not “patent police”, and do not often proactively enforce infringement. A few questions to protect your patent include:
- Keep records. You should keep dated records including drawings and models. Document all developments leading to invention.
- File record of invention form. File this as soon as possible. Document changes to the design of the item in other records.
- Clearly established who or what entity contributed to and conceived the invention.
- If an employee is the inventor, determine whether the employee will have the IP right or if the company is the inventor determine whether the employee will have the IP rights or if the company will retain the rights. If the employee is going to retain the right or share in the rights of the invention, make sure the employee’s name is also on the application.
How to protect your Trademark?
There are 5 ways of protecting your trademark.
a. Set the Stage: A good defensive game plan starts with the offense. Before registering, it is important to have complete certainty that you are not walking the fine line of brand confusion. Because without knowing you can defend it, the mark will be expensive to protect or, in the worst cases, already lost.
b. Registering everything associated with your mark: Once you are sure there is no chance of confusion with your mark, it is important to register everything around it. This includes your company’s name,logo, slogan, and product names. Anything that references your trademark should be registered at the same time. By owning these marks you are stopping someone else from grabbing them for themselves. In the same manner you should register any idea for future. Until you register the marks in your portfolio, keep them hidden from your competitors. If they register a mark before you put it into use, it will force you to rework your marketing plan, or pay them for the rights.
c. Register all of your social handles: Few things would be worse than registering your businesses name but losing the ability to have matching social profiles. A large portion of digital marketing falls on those social media accounts and having identical names can be the difference between a customer findings you and your friend competitor.
d. Maintain your registration:When it comes to registering with the USPTO, you need to stay up to date with your mark’s status. The USPTO will not send reminders for maintenance documents. Between the 5th and 6th years after a mark’s registration date, you’ll be required to update documentation. If you fail to complete the paperwork, your mark could be canceled or lost. Although they may not warn you before this happens, the USPTO will at least stop other similar or confusing marks from being registered. This is helpful, but any other issues surrounding marks are up to you to monitor.
e. Monitor your marks: Monitoring your trademark, it sounds simple, but you would be surprised how many trademarks are just sitting there with no one paying attention to them. Some of our customers have huge portfolios of trademarks. Before they became our customers, they had to pay thousands of dollars for watch reports for each trademark. These watch reports would be pages upon pages of potential infringers some human had to spend time reviewing.
How to protect your Patents?
While getting a patent is a complex undertaking, here are five steps and resources to get you started on the road to protecting your invention.
- Pre-Filing: Before submitting a patent application, you need to do some work. The basic premises of the patent is that it protects something that has never existed before. Try determining to the best of your ability, if your idea already exists by performing a basic patent search.
- File a provisional patent application: The provisional application is one of the most popular way for entrepreneur to get their foot in the patent door. The provisional application is not a patent, and it does not provide actual legal protection. What it does is guarantee you a filing date with the USPTO and the ability to use the term “patent pending” as a warning to would-be infringers.
How to protect Service mark?
- Devise a distinct service mark: The more distinctive the service mark the stronger your claim.
- Use the mark in business: You cannot obtain a protection for a service mark if you are not using it.
- Designate the service mark with a superscript “SM” in printed materials. Like the “TM” symbol with trademarks, the SM symbol expresses your claim on the mark. You don’t need to register your trademark to use this symbol.
- Use the mark consistently and regularly.
- Defend the mark legally.