Overview

our practice involves the development and protection of intellectual property rights by filing U.S. national and foreign patent, trademark, and copyright applications no matter where you are located.  We counsel startups and established companies, software and technologies companies, apparel and clothing lines, the food and restaurant industry, entertainment companies. Please explore the links on our website to learn more about what we do and how you can benefit from our services by developing your intellectual property rights and assets.

For information on these areas, follow the menu links each subject.

Trademarks

What is a trademark or service mark?

A trademark is generally a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.  A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.  Throughout this booklet, the terms “trademark” and “mark” refer to both trademarks and service marks.

Do trademarks, copyrights, and patents protect the same things?

No. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents protect different types of intellectual property.   A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services.  A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work.  A patent protects an invention.  For example, if you invent a new kind of vacuum cleaner, you would apply for a patent to protect the invention itself.

You would apply to register a trademark to protect the brand name of the vacuum cleaner.  And you might register a copyright for the TV commercial that you use to market the product. For copyright information, go to http://www.copyright.gov. For patent information, go to  http://www.uspto.gov/patents.

To help evaluate your overall awareness of intellectual property knowledge and to provide access to additional educational materials based on the assessment results, please use the Intellectual Property Awareness Assessment tool, available at http://www.uspto.gov/inventors/assessment.

How do domain names, business name registrations, and trademarks differ?

A domain name is part of a web address that links to the internet protocol address (IP address) of a particular website.  For example, in the web address “http://www.uspto.gov,” the domain name is “uspto.gov.”  You register your domain name with an accredited domain name registrar, not through the USPTO.  A domain name and a trademark differ.  A trademark identifies goods or services as being from a particular source.  Use of a domain name only as part of a web address does not qualify as source-indicating trademark use, though other prominent use apart from the web address may qualify as trademark use.  Registration of a domain name with a domain name registrar does not give you any trademark rights.  For example, even if you register a certain domain name with a domain name registrar, you could later be required to surrender it if it infringes someone else’s trademark rights.

Similarly, use of a business name does not necessarily qualify as trademark use, though other use of a business name as the source of goods or services may qualify it as both a business name and a trademark.  Many states and local jurisdictions register business names, either as part of obtaining a certificate to do business or as an assumed name filing.  For example, in a state where you will be doing business, you might file documents (typically with a state corporation commission or state division of corporations) to form a business entity, such as a corporation or limited liability company.  You would select a name for your entity, for example, XYZ, Inc.  If no other company has already applied for that exact name in that state and you comply with all other requirements, the state likely would issue you a certificate and authorize you to do business under that name.  However, a state’s authorization to form a business with a particular name does not also give you trademark rights and other parties could later try to prevent your use of the business name if they believe a likelihood of confusion exists with their trademarks.

Why should I do a trademark search?

Conducting a complete search of your mark before filing an application is very important because the results may identify potential problems, such as a likelihood of confusion with a prior registered mark or a mark in a pending application.  A search could save you the expense of applying for a mark in which you will likely not receive a registration because another party may already have stronger rights in that mark.  Also, the search results may show whether your mark or a part of your mark appears as generic or descriptive wording in other registrations, and thus is weak and/or difficult to protect.

After the USPTO issues a registration, in order to keep the registration "live," the registrant must file specific maintenance documents. Failure to make these required filings will result in cancellation and/or expiration of the registration.  If your registration is cancelled or expired, your only option is to file a brand new application and begin the entire process again from the very beginning.  The fact that your mark was previously registered does not guarantee registration when you submit a new application.

Provisional Patents

Provisional Patent Application

A provisional patent application allows you to file without a formal patent claim, oath or declaration, or any information disclosure (prior art) statement.Since June 8, 1995, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has offered inventors the option of filing a provisional application for patent which was designed to provide a lower-cost first patent filing in the United States and to give U.S. applicants parity with foreign applicants under the GATT Uruguay Round Agreements.

A provisional application for patent (provisional application) is a U.S. national application filed in the USPTO under 35 U.S.C. §111(b). A provisional application is not required to have a formal patent claim or an oath or declaration. Provisional applications also should not include any information disclosure (prior art) statement since provisional applications are not examined.  A provisional application provides the means to establish an early effective filing date in a later filed nonprovisional patent application filed under 35 U.S.C. §111(a). It also allows the term "Patent Pending" to be applied in connection with the description of the invention.

A provisional application for patent has a pendency lasting 12 months from the date the provisional application is filed. The 12-month pendency period cannot be extended. Therefore, an applicant who files a provisional application must file a corresponding nonprovisional application for patent (nonprovisional application) during the 12-month pendency period of the provisional application in order to benefit from the earlier filing of the provisional application. However, a nonprovisional application that was filed more than 12 months after the filing date of the provisional application, but within 14 months after the filing date of the provisional application, may have the benefit of the provisional application restored by filing a grantable petition (including a statement that the delay in filing the nonprovisional application was unintentional and the required petition fee) to restore the benefit under 37 CFR 1.78

Design Patents

Design Patent Application

A design consists of the visual ornamental characteristics embodied in, or applied to, an article of manufacturer. Since a design is manifested in appearance, the subject matter of a design patent application may relate to the configuration or shape of an article, to the surface ornamentation applied to an article, or to the combination of configuration and surface ornamentation. A design for surface ornamentation is inseparable from the article to which it is applied and cannot exist alone.

It must be a definite pattern of surface ornamentation, applied to an article of manufactureIn discharging its patent-related duties, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) examines applications and grants patents on inventions when applicants are entitled to them. The patent law provides for the granting of design patents to any person who has invented any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. A design patent protects only the appearance of the article and not structural or utilitarian features.

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