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May 27, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

What’s The Difference Between A Patent vs A Trademark vs A Copyright | Ask The Patent Professor

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Yes, sir. So get on all your questions while you can we are now going to begin the q&a session of this seminar. The first question that they would like to be answered John, is you call yourself the patent professor. But do you also do trademarks and copyrights?


Yes, yes, I do. And I'm glad that this question was asked, there's a lot of inventors that we help with their trademarks as well. But branding is something that you really have to understand to do well, and I could have branded myself as the patent and trademark professor, or the patent, trademark and copyright professor, it just didn't have a ring to it. So my brand is the patent professor. But really to be good at intellectual property, you have to have a good understanding of brands and ideas, and also copyrights, which are written materials. So yeah, so don't be misled by the term, the patent professor, I do trademarks and copyrights as well.


The next question is, how long does a patent last?


So there's two types of patents. There's design patents, which protect the look of an idea. And then there's utility patents that protect the unique function and what an idea does. So design patents are common for like, like in the fashion industry, you might have an earring, it doesn't work differently than any other earring. But, but it looks unusual. So you can get a design patent. The question is, how long do they last design patents lasts for 14 years? If it's the function you want to protect, that's protected for 20 years.


Right now, the next question is, is the patent available in other countries such as Mexico, Canada, worldwide?


Yeah, absolutely. You can get patents or have geographic limitations. So every country has its own patent office and its own system of laws. But the beauty is, there are international treaties, where you can file one application, and that will pretty much freeze your rights worldwide. So the more most important thing for a startup or an individual inventor is to get that first application in, and then you have plenty of time to worry about foreign protection, you have a one year grace period to file in, in most of the world under these international treaties.


Now, the next question is what conditions or requirements need to be met in order to obtain a patent protection.


So your idea has to meet a three standards, it has to be new, it has to be non obvious. And it has to be useful. So new is pretty straightforward. You can't you have to be the inventor, you can't have found a product. And I'm often asked if if you can import a product and get it patented in the United States, you can't if it's already sold and openly known. So it has to be new idea. It has to be useful and what that means it has to do what it purports to do what you say it's going to do. So that's that's the those that's the new and useful requirement. And then non obvious, you can't just change the color. And you can't just change the shape of the idea. It has to do something completely different. I know one of the panelists here in the office, Jenny, if you're listening to this, if you can go to that. Our storage area at the bench closest to the reception area, there's a coffee cup with a sleeve, and also a ketchup bottle. If you can bring those over, I'd like to talk about those later as examples of how you meet this standard.


Good. Now, is there any way to sell an idea or invention without a patent?


That there's a lot of talk and you'll find a lot of stuff online about having people sign a nondisclosure agreement, and then disclosing your idea under that. The problem is that's extremely risky, because a non disclosure or confidentiality agreement is a contract between two people or two companies. So if the company he signs this contract, saying they're going to keep your idea confidential, and you disclose it to them, you are protected if they steal it themselves. But what often happens is they're smart enough, if not to steal the idea themselves if they've signed this agreement, so they're going to leak this idea to affiliated company, a cousin, a brother in law or even a distant friend where you can't trace how the idea got to this third party. And now that agreement is not going to protect you. So the only other way would be a nondisclosure agreement. But I don't recommend that because it only protects you against one party, the person that signed


it Now we're going to switch gears a little on this question. This one is regarding trademarks. John, will a trademark protect my business name from being used throughout the United States?


Yes, yeah. So trademarks are not and same thing with patents. These are federal. So when you file for a trademark, you get protection throughout the entire United States. There is no Florida Trademark Office, that you know that you can file state trademarks. But typically, federal trademarks is what I recommend you get nationwide protection. And the same thing with patents. There's no Florida Patent Office or New York Patent Office. There's the United States Patent Office. So you file and your protection is nationwide, which is one of the reasons why I'm licensed in all 50 states in practicing before the patent office, because the patent office is not state based. It's federal. There's a US patent so so we have inventors, from all over the country that we assist.


Wow. So you can do a pen from Alaska?


Yeah, we can do one from Alaska. I I mentioned the country but I should have said worldwide, because anybody, we have clients that hire us now, especially this pandemic has made it more clear than ever is that with Zoom and, and video conference, other services that offer video conference calls, there's literally nothing that we can accomplish in person that can't be done through a video conference. So yeah, worldwide, not just Alaska, I guess, in veteran Timbuktu could hire us and we could file their patent in the United States.


Wow. So we're global. Yeah, that's beautiful. We


are global.


All right, perfect. Now the next question is, can I discuss with potential investors? Or before the patent is granted? Or does it have to be just pending?


Once it's pending, then, then you can absolutely should discuss with investors. So it's the filing date is what's critical. Once you get that patent on file, you're fully able to commercialize it, you can speak to prototype guys, you can speak to investors, you can even start producing and selling the product before it's granted. And that's why you see all these products sold as patent pending.


Okay, now, the next question, this obviously has to do with money, you know, the bottom line is very important. So, what is the most economical way to get my product to the patent pending stage?


So, it's this question, I mean, I'll address this one briefly. But next Friday, and you know, what is next Friday, May 7, or eighth, May 8. Okay. So next Friday at noon, we're having another Ask the patent Professor segment. And the sole focus is understanding the difference between provisional patents and non provisional patents? So to answer this question, the most economical way is to start the patent with a provisional patent first, and that gives you 12 months of protection. And then at the end of those 12 months, you convert to a non provisional patent. So this way, you get your filing date, you start sales, you start marketing, and you can do all of the things that you typically want to do when you want to protected, and you can even make minor modifications to the design for the during the year.


Nice. All right, perfect. Now the next question we have is, do we need an actual working prototype when they start considering our patents?


No, that's a common misconception. And I've had, you know, unfortunately, a lot of inventors think that a prototype is required. So before they see a patent attorney and find out if the idea is new, people spend a lot of time and effort creating their prototype and creating the invention. In fact, several years ago, I had a client his concept was and I can discuss it because unfortunately, it was a case where somebody already had the patent. So it's already public knowledge. But his idea was to take a lawn mower blade with vertical blades, in addition to the horizontal blades, so that when the grass is cut, it further chops the grass into tiny pieces, and distributes them. He spent about $4,500 on creating this prototype. And when we did the patent search, we found out that he couldn't produce it because someone else already had the idea patented. So the moral of the story is don't produce the prototype until you know that nobody else owns rights to it. Otherwise you're just throwing money away and getting a prototype made. You need to see a patent attorney and have a search done to make sure that you can even make the product. Okay, I see we have I'm seeing like over over two dozen questions. Are your questions


are coming in? Definitely don't hesitate to keep them coming, guys. Um, if one can't afford a utility patent, can it be copyrighted?


They cover different aspects of the idea. I mean, that's a good question. So the copyright protects the, the, I guess the, the written materials that go with it, or it could be the video, or music or a song. But creative elements, it's completely different. It's not going to protect the way the idea works. So I think it would be a huge mistake to only file a copyright. If your invention does something something practical. Now, would I advise filing a copyright in addition to a patent? Yes, and a copyrights not not an expensive thing to file. So it's not it's not that time consuming or expensive. But it's very limited protection, you're only protected for the creative expression, not the way the thing works. Another disadvantage of copyrights. And we're going to have another, ask the professor's segment just on copyrights versus patents and trademarks. But independent creation is a defense to copyright infringement. So if you have somebody that claims that they came up with their item on their own, and never saw yours, and if a judge or jury believes that, there's no liability, the beauty of a patent is that it doesn't matter if they came up with it on their own or not. You're fully protected. If they, as long as you created it, first, you filed the patent first, it doesn't matter if they came up with it independently. Okay.


Now, Deborah asks, I have started the application for a patent. And of course, everyone says, I can't do it on my own. I have completed half of the process. So do you think I can be successful.


So the there's in the different areas of intellectual property, you have patents, you have trademarks, you have copyright, the copyright filings. A lot of inventors and entrepreneurs do themselves. And that's, that's it, it's not as tricky. The Copyright Office has a number you can call, they'll direct you to the proper forms, trademarks, there are a lot of pitfalls. So I don't recommend trademarks, either. But with trademarks, you could get lucky and still process, you know, progress with your trademark filing without a lawyer, and it could be granted. And you know, and you don't face some of those pitfalls. The problem with the patent is that the patent has only protects what's listed in the cleans. So unless you draft the cleans in a way that really cover alternatives to your idea, your patent is not going to have much value, it's only going to protect your exact invention. And say for example, you develop a new type of chair that that has a heater in it and maybe magnets or something for pain relief. If you're don't work with a patent attorney, you file it yourself, you might inadvertently say that this chair has four legs, and it's completely normal in normal life to describe something in that kind of detail. However, if in your claims, you put that it has four legs, you know what a competitor can do, they can take the heart of your idea, and create a bar stool with three legs or in a wooden or a bench, which is two legs on each side, and they would get around your rights. So if you're creating your patent to stop infringers, then you really need to have an attorney prepare it. The other thing to keep in mind is that before anybody pays for your idea, if you want to license it to a manufacturer, Alex Gomez, for example, his his patent was was purchased. But for over $115 million. No company is going to pay that kind of money without first hiring a team of lawyers and army of lawyers to find loopholes in the patent and find shortfalls. So when you haven't done right, then like we did with Alex's patent, the they're not able to find a way around the idea. They can't steal it by making some minor modification. There's a lot of myths out there that you can change an idea by 20% 30% and get around a patent. That's all nonsense and well written patent is should be drafted in a way that competitors really have no choice but to buy rights from you. If they want to produce that item.

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