How to Get a Patent in a Year.

As part of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, utility and plant patent applications can now be processed through the new prioritized examination process (aka the Track 1 process).  A patent in the Track 1 process can be granted within twelve months, on average, once Track 1 status is granted.  Although the USPTO has stated that, only 10,000 requests for prioritized status will be granted per fiscal year, the Office may change the amount allowed in the future.

To qualify for  Track 1 status, the application has to be an original nonprovisional utility application and filed electronically.  In addition to the standard fees for a utility patent application filing, you must also pay the prioritized examination fee, which is currently $4,800 for large entities and $2,400 for small entities. There are also some restrictions regarding the application:

  • There must be an  executed oath or declaration filed with the application
  • The application cannot have more than four independent claims, thirty total claims, and no multiple dependent claims.
  • Track 1 processing is not available for design, provisional, PCT, national stage, reissue, or reexamination patent applications.

While the fees may seem to be high, in areas that are rapidly changing, such as technology, software and social media, Track 1 can be a fast and efficient way to bypass the typical 2-4 year application process.  Depending upon your business needs, this procedure can also be highly beneficial to those whose technologies are being infringed or are threatened from being wrongfully copied as they can obtain their patents sooner to stop the infringers.  Startups may also find this procedure beneficial in attracting investors.

If you would like more information or need assistance with your intellectual property needs, please contact me for a free consultation.

What IP Rights for U.S. Businesses are the Most Important?

A new survey reveals that most U.S. businesses view trademarks and trade secrets as the most important forms of intellectual property (IP) protection. The study was conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Census Bureau as part of their 2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS). According to a NSF press statement, the survey polled a nationally representative sample of about 40,000 companies, including companies in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing industries. Here’s the results:

• Fifteen percent of all businesses reported trademarks as either very important or somewhat important to their business (6 percent said trademarks were very important, while 9 percent said they were somewhat important).

• Fourteen percent of surveyed businesses reported trade secrets as very important or somewhat important (6 percent and 8 percent respectively).

• Twelve percent of those surveyed identified copyrights as important.

• Five percent of respondents indicated that design patents are important, while four percent viewed utility patents as an important form of IP protection.

“Much of today’s business derives its competitive advantage from the ability to protect and exploit exclusive rights over investments in intellectual property,” said John Jankowski, lead author of the report in NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. “Hence, IP protection is a persistent and recurrent concern of businesses.”

If you need assistance with protecting your intellectual property or more information about how and what to protect, please contact me.

What Can’t Be Protected By Copyright?

Under U.S. copyright law, protection is only given to “original works of authorship.”  This means ideas and concepts cannot be protected by copyright.  Those ideas and concepts are protected by Patents.  What else can’t be copyrighted?  The  U.S. Copyright Office states that in order to be protected, a work must contain “a certain minimum amount of authorship in the form of original literary, musical, pictorial, or graphic expression.” This means that words and phrases don’t qualify, even if they are novel or distinctive or feature a clever play on words. For example, the Copyright Office will not register the following:

• Names of products or services

• Names of businesses, organizations, or groups (including the names of performing groups)

• Pseudonyms of individuals (including pen or stage names)

• Titles of works • Catchwords, catchphrases, mottoes, slogans, or short advertising expressions

• Listings of ingredients, as in recipes, labels, or formulas.

Of course, although slogans and product names can’t be copyrighted, they can still often be protected under state and federal trademark laws.

Please contact me if you need more information or assistance.

Happy Birthday to Sir Patrick Moore

If you have never heard of Sir Patrick, he is an English astronomer, enthusiast and writer.  He is probably best known for being the presenter of the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter, The Sky at Night on the BBC.

As an amateur astronomer, he became known as a specialist on observing the Moon and creating the Caldwell catalogue. Idiosyncrasies such as his rapid diction and his monocle have made him a popular and instantly recognisable figure on British television.

He has also written more than 70 books on astronomy.

If you would like to see and hear Sir Patrick in all his glory you can find monthly magazines of The Sky at Night which you can normally find at Barnes and Nobles bookstores.  (I am not affiliated with either the Sky at Night magazine nor Barnes and Nobles, I just like the magazine and that is where I find most often).

– Ex astris, scientia –

USPTO Announces Location for Elijah J. McCoy Satellite Office in Detroit

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has concluded a five-year lease agreement for a 31,000-square-foot space for its new satellite office in Detroit. USPTO-Detroit will be located at 300 River Place Drive and is scheduled to open this summer. The building, listed on the National Historic Registry, was the former home to Parke-Davis Laboratories as well as the Stroh’s Brewery Headquarters. The agency plans to open the Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office no later than July 2012.  Read more here.

Tornado and Tsumani on the Sun

You may have seen or heard about the solar tornado with 300,000 miles per hour winds on the news.  You can see the event here: .  But, did you know that there have been recorded tsunamis on the sun as well?  Check out this video of one such tsunami:   Remeber – do not look directly at the sun.  You can damage your eyes.  So to take a look at the closest star to the Earth you can check out the SOHO website here:

Ex astris, scientia

Happy 50th to John Glen

On Feb. 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

Now, 50 years later, NASA is celebrating Glenn’s historic mission, and all Americans have yet another reason to look back at one of the most ambitious periods in our history, and at some of our biggest heroes.

Burping Black Hole

Sagittarius A*  (or Sgr A*) is a supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It is a gigantic object containing about 4 million times the mass of our sun.  It also exhibits an odd behavior.  Scientists have identified mysterious flares being emitted from the black hole for a few hours each day.

After years seeking an explanation, astronomers, using new data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory,  think that they have found one.  Sgr A* may simply be vaporizing and actually “devouring” asteroids that cross its path. Think of the flares as a galactic burp.

There is no shortage of raw material for Sgr A* to consume.  According to NASA, the cloud around Sgr A* contains literally trillions of asteroids and comets.  Any celestial object passing with 100 million miles of the black hole–that’s roughly the distance between Earth and the sun–would get obliterated. (love to see how James T. Kirk would pull the Enterprise out of that one.  Just saying.)

Ex astris, scientia

Are Twitter, Facebook and Other Social Media Putting Your Company at Risk?

With the explosion of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, it is likely that many of your employees use social media for both personal and business interactions. While these tools can be a great way to spread the word about your company’s products or services, they can also compromise proprietary information, including trade secrets. As we continually remind our clients, trade secrets are a valuable business asset, but only if they remain secret. Therefore, it is critical for companies to have policies and procedures in place to prevent employees from revealing confidential information via social media. Below are a few tips for safeguarding your trade secrets: • Create policies for employees that clearly detail the company’s expectations regarding the use of social media. • Include social media provisions in employment-related contracts such as non-disclosure and non-compete agreements. • Closely monitor the use of social networking media even for business purposes to reduce the risk of leaking confidential information, even inadvertently. • Thoroughly investigate any social media provider before using it to market your business. For instance, it is important to understand the provider’s policies regarding the ownership of information that is posted on its site as well as what controls are in place to protect customer data from hacking and other security threats. • Finally, stay on your toes—social media continues to evolve and will likely pose more IP challenges in the future. Of course, these are only a few general tips. To ensure that your company’s trade secrets are thoroughly protected, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney. At Sheldon Mak & Anderson, we recognize that innovation is your competitive edge – and it needs protection. As a full-service intellectual property firm with more than two decades of experience, we provide local, regional, national, and international legal services in the following areas: patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, IP litigation, international patent and trademark prosecution, licensing, alternative dispute resolution, and green technology.

Please contact me if you need more information or assistance.