FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: What is intellectual property?

A: Intellectual Property consists of products of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works; any symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce.  Patents, trademarks and copyrights are considered intellectual property.

Q:What is a patent?

A: A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.  Patents protect the features and processes that make things work, allowing inventors to profit from their inventions.  When an inventor obtains a patent from the US government, the inventor has the exclusive right to prevent others from making, selling, offering for sale or using the patented invention for a limited time (i.e., during the term of the patent spanning 20 years following the date of the patent application filing).

Q: What can be patented?

A: Patents protect machines, articles of manufacture, compositions of matter (i.e., chemical formulations), methods and processes that can be proven to be novel and non-obvious as compared to known technology.

Q: How does an inventor obtain a patent?

A: An inventor must file a patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and pay the associated fees to obtain a patent.  The patent application process is complex and involves convincing the USPTO that the claimed invention is novel, non-obvious and otherwise meets the requirements for patentability under the US Patent Statute.

Q: What is a trademark?

A: A trademark is any word, name, symbol, color, sound, distinctive product design or distinctive product packaging that is used to serve as a source identifier and that distinguishes the trademark owners products/services from those of its competitors.  

Q: Why should I hire a trademark attorney?

A: Although one can file an application for federal trademark registration, it has been reported that trademark applicants are at least 50% more likely to successfully register their mark when represented by counsel.  Moreover, a great deal of expense can be avoided by having an experienced trademark attorney assist in the process of selecting a trademark to ensure the trademark is enforceable and does not infringe an existing trademark.

Q: How does one obtain trademark rights?

A: Trademark rights are attained simply by commercial use of the trademark.  A trademark owner my enhance the enforceability of a trademark by registration with the USPTO.  Federal trademark registration also offers many practical advantages, such as creating a record of the trademark that may discourage others from adopting and using a confusingly similar or identical trademark.

Q: What is a copyright?

A: A copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an author or originator to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.

Q: How are copyrights obtained?

A: Copyrights are obtained automatically when a copyrightable work is created.  Although federal registration of a copyright is not required, copyright registration must be obtained if the copyright owner desires to sue for copyright infringement.  The copyright registration process is very straightforward and simple process.