Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks For Dummies

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Do you have a great idea for the next big thing? Worried about competitors stealing your hot new business concept? Don't worry! Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks For Dummies covers all the fundamentals of intellectual property -- including acquiring, registering, maintaining, and protecting your intellectual property rights. Make sure you're the only person profiting from your hard work!
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Do you have a great idea for the next big thing? Worried about competitors stealing your hot new business concept? Don't worry! Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks For Dummies covers all the fundamentals of intellectual property -- including acquiring, registering, maintaining, and protecting your intellectual property rights. Make sure you're the only person profiting from your hard work!
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470339459
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/11/2008
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition description: New
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 155,091
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
About This Book 1
Conventions Used in This Book 2
Foolish Assumptions 3
How This Book Is Organized 3
Icons Used in This Book 5
Where to Go from Here 6
Part I Covering Your Assets: Intellectual Property Basics 7
Chapter 1 Examining the Tools in Your IP Box 9
Buying into Intellectual Property 9
Exploring the Patent Process 11
Copyrighting Your Creations 13
Claiming Your Identity: Trademarks and Other Commercial Handles 14
Keeping It Quiet: Trade Secrets 16
Putting It in Writing: Looking at Contractual IP Rights 16
Putting Your IP to Work at Home and Abroad 17
Chapter 2 Protecting Your Intellectual Property 19
Examining Your Motives 19
Implementing an IP Program 21
Chapter 3 Dealing with Professionals and Picking Up the Tab 31
Getting the Help That You Need 31
Finding and Retaining an IP Professional 35
Staying within Your Meager Means 37
Working with Foreign IP Professionals 40
Coordinating with Other Professionals 41
Part II If You Build It, They Will Come: Patenting Your Product 43
Chapter 4 Understanding Patents and How They Work 45
Presenting a Patent Explanation 45
Dissecting the Beast: The Three Types of Patents 47
Checking Out the Mechanics: Specifications and Claims 49
Playing by the Rules: The Three-Part Patentability Test 51
Chapter 5 Testing the Water Before You File for a Patent 57
Assessing What You Have 57
Making Sure a Patent Is Right for You 60
Starting Things Off on the Right Foot 65
Chapter 6 The Quest for the Unholy Grail: The Patent Search 67
To Search or Not to Search 68
Conducting an Anticipation Search 70
Looking at Other Patent Searches 77
Chapter 7 Preparing Your Patent Application 79
Understanding the Patent Application 79
Choosing between Formal and Provisional Applications 80
Deconstructing the Patent Application 83
Disclosing Your Invention in the Specification 84
Arguing Your Case for Patentability 85
Staking Your Claims 87
Actively Participating in Application Preparation 95
Chapter 8 Filing Your Patent Application 99
Packaging the Application 99
Letting Go: Sending Your Application to the USPTO 102
Meeting Your Filing Deadlines 102
Keeping Your Application Under Wraps 103
Asking for Special Status 106
Preparing and Filing Some Simplified Patent Applications 109
Making Money and Taking Precautions While You Wait for Your Patent 110
Filing Again: Entering a Continuation Application 111
Chapter 9 Wrestling with the Patent Examiner 113
Touring the USPTO 114
Clearing Initial Administrative Hurdles 116
Splitting Up Is Hard to Do: Restricting the Application 119
Getting In on the Action--The Office Action 121
Reacting to a Final Rejection 135
Getting Flagged for Interference 137
Requesting a Statutory Invention Registration 140
Avoiding a Third-Party Protest 141
Chapter 10 Entering the Home Stretch: Getting Your Patent Issued 143
Getting the Green Light 144
Put the Champagne Down: Taking Corrective Action 145
Dealing with Defective Patents 146
Submitting to Reexamination 152
Changing the Names of the Inventors or Assignees 156
Remembering to Pay Maintenance Fees 157
Marking Your Widgets with the Patent Number 158
Part III Knowing Your Copyrights 159
Chapter 11 Entering the Whimsical World of Copyrights 161
Getting to Know the Copyright 162
Defining an Original Work of Authorship 162
Determining What Is Copyrighted and What Isn't 165
The Scope of Copyright Protection 168
So What Does a Copyright Do for Me? 171
Chapter 12 Untangling Ownership Issues 179
Staking a Claim: Making Sure That You Own the Copyright 180
Changing Owners: Transferring Interest in a Copyright 185
Investigating the Status of a Copyright 187
Chapter 13 Giving Your Copyright Fangs 189
Making It Official: Registration 189
Finding and Filling Out Forms 193
Depositing Copies of the Work 199
Marking Your Copyrighted Work 203
Getting Help from Uncle Sam 205
Recording Copyright Documents 206
Part IV Making Your Mark: Protecting Your Commercial Identity 207
Chapter 14 Solving Your Identity Crisis 209
Hitting the Right Mark: A Commercial Identifier Inventory 210
Putting Commercial Identifiers to Work 214
Testing the Legal Strength of Commercial Identifiers 218
Chapter 15 Creating the Next Household Name 223
Marketing Muscle: The Components of Good Commercial Identifiers 224
Trying the Tricks of the Trade 227
Avoiding the Seven Deadly Identifier Sins 231
Chapter 16 Conducting an Availability Search 235
Practicing Prudence 235
Defining the Scope of Your Search 237
Carrying Out Your Search 241
Analyzing the Results 244
Chapter 17 Establishing and Registering Your Commercial Identifier 249
Gaining Exclusive Rights to a Commercial Identifier 250
Registering Your Commercial Identifier 250
Preparing Your In-Use or ITU Application 254
Pushing Your Application Through the USPTO 261
Keeping Your Registration Up to Snuff 268
Losing Your Commercial Identifier 269
Part V Exploiting and Enforcing Your IP Rights 271
Chapter 18 All Abroad: Protecting Your IP Rights in Other Countries 273
Pros and Cons of International Patents 273
First Things First: Three Basic Rules of Filing for Foreign Patents 276
Charting a Course: Where Should You File Your Patent Application? 277
Filing for Design Protection Abroad 286
Protecting Your Plant Overseas 287
Protecting Your Mark Abroad 288
Copyrighting Overseas 290
Chapter 19 Making 'Em Pay: Licensing Your IP Rights 291
Types of Licenses 291
Inspecting Basic Elements of a License 293
Assigning Rather Than Licensing 298
Getting Down to the Government Stuff 298
Adopting a Licensing Strategy 300
Making Beautiful Music Business 301
Chapter 20 Nailing the Bad Guys (The Infringers) 305
Determining Infringement 305
Stopping Infringement Cold 309
Part VI The Part of Tens 315
Chapter 21 Top Ten Patent Application Pitfalls 317
Choosing a Utility Patent When Other Protection Will Fit the Bill 317
Filing When You Can't Afford It 317
Going It Alone 318
Concealing the Past 318
Showing Your Hand 318
Naming a Non-Inventor 319
Disclosing Too Little 319
Disclosing Too Much 319
Waiting Too Long 320
Accepting Money in Exchange for a Share of the Profits 320
Chapter 22 Ten Common Copyright Questions 321
I Wrote a Children's Story: Can I Get a Copyright? 321
I Coined a Campaign Slogan for the Next Election: Can I Copyright It? 321
I Have an Idea for a TV Show: How Do I Get It Copyrighted? 322
How Much of a Copyrighted Work Can I Copy without Infringing the Copyright? 322
I'm Designing a Web Site: Can I Use Graphics Copied from a Magazine? 322
Can I Use a Popular Song in a Video Clip of My Dog to Send to America's Funniest Animals? 322
I'm a Teacher: Can I Copy a Page from a Book and Give the Copies to My Students? 323
How Long Does a Copyright Last? 323
Where Can I Get Permission to Copy a Protected Work? 323
Can I Protect Software with a Copyright and a Patent? 323
Chapter 23 The Ten Worst Naming Blunders 325
Using Your Family Name 325
Mimicking Another Company's Brand 326
Describing Your Product or Service 326
Having Brainstorming Sessions 326
Holding a Naming Contest 327
Ignoring the Customer 327
Creating Techno-Babble 327
Choosing Availability over Exclusivity 327
Relying on the Logo 328
Leaving Your Mark Unprotected 328
Chapter 24 More Than Ten Great IP Resources 329
Contacting the USPTO for General Info 329
Contacting the U.S. Copyright Office 330
Accessing Online Applications 330
Old-Fashioned Application Access 331
Getting Down with Government Manuals 331
The Government Printing Office 332
Inquiring about IP Litigation Info 332
Further Reading for the IP-Addicted 332
Appendix 333
Index 341
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First Chapter

Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks For Dummies

By Henri Charmasson

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-2551-4

Chapter One

Examining the Tools in Your IP Box

In this Chapter

* Understanding the difference between IP assets and IP rights

* Looking at patents and what they can protect

* Looking at copyrights and their applications

* Looking at trademarks and related commercial names

* Looking at trade secrets and their use

* Making money with your IP rights

* Enforcing your IP rights in court

Welcome to the world of intellectual property (IP). If you've created, invented, or named something that you're selling, you already have intellectual property. And that property could be quite valuable. What if you'd invented the Segway scooter or written the first For Dummies book? Wouldn't you like to be able to cash in on it? Exploiting your IP assets for your own financial gain and, at the same time, pursuing those bent on infringing your precious but fragile rights to those assets (IP rights) is what this chapter and, in general, this book are all about.

Buying into Intellectual Property

What is intellectual property? Although I've encountered many true and effective definitions, including information with a commercial value, proprietary product of the mind, and things protected by patents, copyrights, and trademarks, none of them is quite complete. Here's the one I like best:

Intellectual property is intangiblecreations of the mind that can be legally protected. Because IP has no physical form, I can give you a better idea of what it is by providing examples of what it isn't. Intellectual property is not

  •   The new and wondrous machine that you developed in your garage. It's the invention embodied in that machine.
  •   The marvelously efficient cholesterol-reducing pill you see advertised on TV, but the formula and the process used in manufacturing that pill.
  •   The portrait that an artist made of you, but the aesthetic expression of the artist's talent reflected by the painting.
  •   The riding mower you reluctantly start up every Saturday. It's the brand name that embodies the reputation of the product and its manufacturer.

Now, if you'd be so kind as to refer back to my scintillating IP definition, I want to expand on it. Intellectual property is made up of two components:

  •   Assets: IP assets are intangible creations, such as the invention, the formula and process, the expression of an artist's talents as reflected in a painting, and the brand name.
  •   Rights: IP rights are the legal protections that secure each IP asset against its unauthorized use by others. One or more of the following legal protections can be used to secure IP rights:

Patents: Obtaining a patent protects the invention from outright thievery.

Trade secrets: Keeping a formula or manufacturing process confidential safeguards it against imitators.

Copyright: Holding a copyright shields artistic expression against copying by others.

Trademark: Adopting a trademark as a brand name keeps it and its market reputation yours and yours alone.

Some IP rights - copyrights and trademark rights, in particular - attach themselves automatically upon the creation or use of the IP assets without you ever having to lift a finger or spend a cent. Obtaining other IP rights - patents, specifically - requires you to put up a pretty good fight and spend plenty of money.

What happens when you don't protect your IP rights? Sorry, Charlie, but an unprotected IP asset is up for grabs - anyone can copy it, steal it, or change it for the worse (possibly damaging your good reputation). The bottom line is that your unprotected IP will fatten the bad guy's bottom line.

But there's more to IP assets and rights than mere talk of patents, copyrights, and trademarks, and that's what this chapter is all about. You first must verify that you own that IP asset you want to protect, make sure that it's original, and know how to secure all the IP rights that can apply to it. And last but not least, you have to know how to get the professional advice that you need. Curtain, please.

Exploring the Patent Process

I may as well start with the most well-known (though not the most practical) form of IP protection - patents. A patent is a temporary legal right granted by the government as a reward for a unique invention, giving the inventor a way to keep others from stealing the fruits of his or her labor - the invention.

While I'm on a roll, how about another definition? Patent law defines an invention as a technological advancement that is useful, new, and isn't obvious to a person with ordinary skill in the field of technology. Inventions can take many forms, from a machine or device to a method or process, from a new composition to a new use of an old product, from a man-made organism to a new plant created with or without sexual fertilization (you know, the birds and the bees thing).

If you're wondering whether your latest and greatest invention actually fits the invention bill, check out Chapter 4, which details the types of patents and the inventions covered by each.

Obtaining a patent

You must file an elaborate application that completely describes your invention in order to get a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO - I cover the nuts and bolts of this application in Chapter 7). The USPTO rigorously examines your application (see Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 for all the gory details). If you pass the test, you're granted permission to pay a hefty fee so those nice people at the USPTO can afford to print your patent and take a long, well-deserved summer vacation. After all, they think they earned it by making you sweat blood for the last two years. (Chapter 10 covers that info, minus the vacation itinerary.) Yes, that's the minimum amount of time it takes to get your application approved if, of course, the moon is right and the gods are with you.

Make no bones about it, the patent process is costly in terms of both time and money (and blood, sweat, and tears). So if you're thinking you may want to head down this road, you need to be sure that it's the best path for protecting your IP. (Check out Chapter 5, which provides you with other options and an exercise to help you decide whether a patent's the right choice.) The first stop in your journey will likely be to conduct a patent search before pouring a bunch of money into a doubtful application. (Chapter 6 provides a road map for that side trip.)

Putting a patent to good use

Emblazoned with fancy lettering and a big shining seal with blue ribbons, a framed patent makes an impressive conversation piece on your living room or office wall.

Oh yeah, you can also use it to threaten imitators with a lawsuit if they're using and abusing your invention. Basically, a patent is nothing more than a license to sue someone. If the copycat answers with an obscene gesture, you can mortgage everything you own down to your grandfather's dentures and file an infringement lawsuit. If the Force is with you, the litigation goes well for your side, and your adversary is flush with greenbacks, you'll make a bundle. Find out what else you can do with your patent in the section "Putting Your IP to Work at Home and Abroad," at the end of this chapter.

Yes, a patent has teeth, but those teeth come at great expense. So looking at your other IP rights is a good idea, too. You can also buy insurance policies that cover some of your litigation costs. I discuss that issue in detail in Chapter 20.

Copyrighting Your Creations

Although derived from the same constitutional mandate as patents, copyrights resemble them only superficially. A copyright is a temporary right giving a creative person exclusive control over the use of an original work of authorship.

Okay, one more definition: An original work of authorship (OWA) is a textual, graphic, plastic, musical, dramatic, audio, or visual creation that you created. A few examples of original works of authorship (for the complete scoop, turn to Chapter 11) are

  •   Any writing (including a computer program)
  •   A drawing, painting, or computer-generated image
  •   A sculpture
  •   An architectural design
  •   A song, a symphony, or an opera
  •   A play
  •   A video or audio production (including movies, video games, television or radio broadcasts, or recordings on cassette, CD, or DVC)

Even when the same thing was done before, you can obtain a copyright if your work wasn't copied from or influenced by the pre-existing work. For example, just think of how many books have recanted the life stories of the Kennedys. A copyright protects the form in which an idea or concept is expressed, not the idea or the concept itself.

Copyright basically doesn't extend to abstractions or to something technical or functional. For example, an idea for a new TV program isn't protected by copyright. The way the idea for the show is developed and played out is protected. The copyright on a cookbook prevents anyone from copying the way the various recipes are expressed in words or images, selected, and arranged. It doesn't prevent you from freely using the very same recipes and even incorporating them step by step into your own cookbook (because the steps are actually a technical process) as long as you don't express them in the same style, compile them in the same order, or arrange them in the same format. I go over this idea/expression distinction in great detail in Chapter 11.

Getting your hands on a copyright

Check this out: After you've created an original work of authorship (like the doodlings you used to decorate your geometry manual while Miss Squareroot attempted to explain the quadrature of the circle), all you need to do to get a copyright is relax and have a glass of chardonnay to my health. Or better yet, send me a check for this worthwhile advice.

Seriously, that's it! Copyright attaches automatically as soon as the work is shown in a perceptible and reproducible form without the need for any formality. That means that as soon as you've printed out your great American novel, it's already copyrighted. That's a big advantage over patents. If, however, you may want to sue someone for infringement, or worse yet, someone sues you, you need to prove that it's actually your original work. That's why you should make it official - apply for a registration of your copyright with the Copyright Office and submit a copy of your creation as proof of your authorship.

Going after the bad guys

You can use your copyright in much the same way you use a patent - to pressure and sue an infringer - except that copyright litigation tends to be much less expensive than patent disputes.

Claiming Your Identity: Trademarks and Other Commercial Handles

Trademarks are only one species within a class of IP assets called commercial identifiers that you use to distinguish your company, product, or services from others. The three basic types of commercial identifiers (which I cover in more detail in Chapter 14) are

  •   Company identifiers: A company is identified by its legal name (for example, General Motors Corporation) and often by the logotype that adorns its buildings and letterhead (General Motors or the familiar blue-and-white GM emblem).
  •   Service identifiers: The services that a company offers to the public - such as automotive-maintenance or fast-food restaurant services - usually are identified by a servicemark. It can be a word or phrase (Mr. Goodwrench, McDonald's), logotype (the arched M you see on a ubiquitous fast-food chain), or the shape and decoration of a building (the KFC brand of restaurant service outlets).
  •   Product identifiers: Trademarks (brand names) are the most familiar product identifiers and can also take the form of a single letter, or a mere design or symbol, such as the swoosh mark on a popular brand of athletic gear.

Any fanciful and nonfunctional characteristic of a product or package can act as a product identifier - for example, the ribbed bottle of a large soft-drink company or the pink color of a glass-wool insulation material. These nonfunctional characteristics often are referred to as configuration, design marks, or trade dress, which, like trademarks, can be registered at the state and federal levels.

Commercial identifiers constitute the IP rights that I consider to be most neglected, misunderstood, and underestimated by entrepreneurs in their new industrial, commercial, educational, or scientific ventures. Watching as new businesses spend lots on money on chancy patent applications always puzzles me when they're obviously neglecting the wondrous marketing tools provided by good commercial identifiers.

Company image, product fame, or a reputation for providing quality service are critical aspects of a business that can be greatly enhanced by and benefit from the right choice and use of pleasant and motivating monikers, logos, and distinctive and attractive packaging. However, coming up with an identifier that's a hit with customers isn't easy, so I devote the whole of Chapter 15 to providing some insight in making such a selection.

Likewise, I detail all you need to know about the ins and outs of developing marks and names that the courts will protect, and explain how the degree of protection awarded to company identifiers and other commercial names depends mainly upon the distinctiveness of the name, all in Chapter 14.

A great name can be the most valuable asset of a company and deserves a lot of attention and appropriate protective measures, such as federal registration and proper usage. But a great commercial identifier won't do you any good if it duplicates an existing identifier, so before you begin the registration process, discussed in Chapter 17, you'll want to do a search to make sure no one else is using your brainchild (or something close). I explain trademark searches in Chapter 16.

Keeping It Quiet: Trade Secrets

Kiss and tell only on a need-to-know basis ... keep it under your hat. The best way to keep a commercially advantageous piece of information like a manufacturing method or customer list away from your competitors is to take advantage of laws that protect trade secrets, a very important and inexpensive IP right. Don't let anyone in on a trade secret other than the people who necessarily need to know about it.


Excerpted from Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks For Dummies by Henri Charmasson Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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