Intellectual Property – A Roundtable Discussion
Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is essential to running a successful business. Understanding the different types of IP and how they work can ensure your ideas remain secure and utilized to their fullest potential. Bagchi Law attorney Jenna Nichols interviewed her teammates and IP specialists Ben Sley and Tyler Demasky to discuss how intellectual property law can shape business owners’ futures.
Why should a client pursue intellectual property protection?
[Ben] The Founding Fathers recognized the protection of intellectual property (IP) in the first article of the US Constitution, which provides that Congress should secure exclusive rights for authors and inventors of their “respective writings and discoveries.” The protection is only for a limited time – currently 20 years from the date of the patent – during which the inventor is expected to disclose how to use the invention or information to the public. It can be argued that the rapid progress of scientific discovery in the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries is based on the public disclosure of patented inventions. The inventor should pursue IP protection so that for the period of exclusivity, they may continue conducting research or improving upon the invention without the threat of infringement.
How valuable is the client’s intellectual property?
[Tyler] The value of a client’s intellectual property can’t be overstated. Whether the intellectual property is in the form of trademarks, patents, copyrights, or trade secrets, it’s part of the lifeblood of the business. Often, when a company is acquired, one of the key draws for a purchaser is the business’s intellectual property. In some instances, this property can make up a significant portion of the purchase price. If others can take or utilize a client’s intellectual property, the client could lose its competitive edge, potentially diluting the value of the business.
What aspect of the client’s intellectual property is the most critical?
[Ben] In this patent practitioner’s opinion, a trademark is the most critical form of IP protection. A patent will expire 20 years after the date of application, but a trademark can continue so long as fees are paid every ten years. A well-known trademark can be invaluable in protecting a business or invention with the exclusive right to use the trademark and prevent others from using a “confusingly similar” mark. In addition to filing a patent application, a person should seriously consider filing a trademark for that technology and an internet domain name to match.
Why is patent law so unique among the other intellectual property laws?
[Tyler] Patent law is unique because a patent requires a registered patent agent. To become a registered patent agent, a person must have a bachelor’s degree in hard science and pass a certification exam. Patent applications are highly technical, requiring detailed descriptions and drawings. Because of that technical nature, the information, disclosures, and submissions for successful registration greatly exceed those needed for trademarks or copyrights.
How do clients protect their intellectual property internationally?
[Tyler] Because domestic registration for patents, trademarks, or copyrights only provides protection within the US, international intellectual property protection requires additional filings. There is no general international patent, so filing requirements depend on the type of intellectual property for which and, importantly, in which countries a client is seeking protection. Additionally, clients can register their intellectual property with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), giving the CBP the authority to detain, seize, forfeit, and destroy merchandise seeking entry into the U.S. if it infringes on registered intellectual property.
Intellectual property is a complex topic for any business owner, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. If you have questions regarding intellectual property or want to discuss securing a patent, trademark or copyright for your business, please do not hesitate to reach out. Bagchi Law is here to guide you through the complex world of IP law. Contact us today for a consultation.
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