For technological innovations — for example, machines, compositions, processes, plants, chemicals, software, etc. — patents offer the strongest form of intellectual property protection available. Not only does a patent give its holder the right to exclude others from the invention claimed in it, but patent owners can also monetize their patents through licensing and as leverage for investment. But obtaining a patent is often a long, arduous, and expensive process, and some companies simply do not have the resources to see that process through to completion for each and every innovation they produce. Luckily, there are alternative forms of IP protection available for such innovations, and an Alabama intellectual property lawyer can help you decide which ones are right for you.
Registering a trademark is one of the most effective strategies companies can use to protect their intellectual property (IP) assets. While the process of applying for a trademark registration can be daunting, registration comes with a number of benefits, such as nationwide constructive notice and the right to file a trademark infringement action in federal court. However, once registered, trademarks do not necessarily stay registered in perpetuity. Trademark owners can inadvertently lose their trademark rights, and third parties may petition the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to cancel existing registrations in some circumstances. Canceling a trademark registration (or defending against a cancellation) is complex, but an Alabama trademark lawyer can assist you.
Let’s say that your company has made it through the trademark application process and that your trademark has been approved for registration, but you receive a notice from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that your application is now being published for “opposition.” Even worse, your attorney informs you that another business is opposing the registration of your trademark. Or consider the opposite: You have a registered trademark, but the attorney handling your trademark maintenance informs you that another company is attempting to register a trademark that is strikingly similar to yours. What do you do? Ideally, you would turn to an Alabama trademark lawyer who could help you handle a trademark opposition.
Design patents can be enormously valuable for any business, but particularly for small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs), who incur about 95% of their costs at the design stage. Good design and, more importantly, the protection of good design through design patents, can lower operating costs. Last month, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it is considering an expansion of the scope of patent protection for designs. For more details, please contact an Alabama design patent attorney.
If you or your company have developed a new product (or made an improvement on an existing one), you probably will be eager to begin using it. You at least might want to tell others about the great discovery or breakthrough you’ve made. But if you intend to apply for patent protection on it — as you should — disclosure of your invention to the public can actually prevent you from obtaining a patent. The best way to avoid losing your patent rights before you even file a patent application is to keep your discoveries secret and seek the counsel of an Alabama patent attorney.