What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual Property, commonly abbreviated as IP, is a creation that originates from our mind. Often when the topic of IP comes up in the news, it concerns music, art, and material inventions. As technology advances, a higher proportion of IP conversations involve new forms of technology such as cryptocurrency, devices (i.e., medical, commercial), and algorithms. Technology is progressing at an exponential rate. Therefore, innovators are constantly attempting to create the next tech invention that will stand out in the marketplace. But once they have a vision, their thoughts shift towards protecting their idea legally. Is this even possible?
The Ultimate Battle: Trademarks vs. Patents
A common mistake entrepreneurs make is to use the terms trademark and patent interchangeably. Trademarks center around brand identity. They are typically used to protect creative assets that are synonymous with the brand itself. In other words, trademarks protect assets that make the brand recognizable such as logos, mottos, slogans, and company names. Contrastly, patents center around inventions. Patents are what entrepreneurs are typically looking for regarding the legal protection of their ideas. Patents are highly desirable due to their ability to protect the invention from being sold, copied, or duplicated without the expressed permission of the patent holder. Trademarks are generally more straightforward than patents. Patents have more requirements, take more effort, and commonly require legal counsel specializing in IP and business law.
The Truth Behind Patents
At MotionMobs, the subject of patents comes up frequently when consulting our clients. Some common misconceptions are:
- Patents are required before any development work can begin.
- Mobile applications and software are entirely patentable.
- The patent process is straightforward.
So let’s address these misconceptions. At MotionMobs, our team believes in being an expert in our field. IP is not our field, so we always suggest consulting a patent lawyer or a law firm specializing in intellectual property and business law.
I spoke with J. Hunter Adams, patent attorney at AdamsIP, LLC, to gain some additional insights on patents:
Are all inventions patentable? What about software products?
“It may be possible that specific aspects of a new product are patentable, even if the product as a whole is not. For example, a piece of software as a whole may not be patentable, but the way it collects information and transforms it into something new may be.”
What is the biggest hurdle that technology innovators face when seeking to patent their software, mobile applications, etc.?
“For my software clients, often the biggest hurdle they face is subject matter eligibility. In other words, are their inventions even eligible for a patent? This comes from Section 101 of the Patent Act. Working around this hurdle requires a strategy for the client and patent lawyer.”
Is there anything technology inventors and technology entrepreneurs should consider before filing for a patent?
“We always prefer to do a patent analysis prior to filing. This is important for so many reasons and certainly helps us strengthen our clients’ filings and patent portfolio. Among other insights, patent searching and analysis can assist with identifying gaps in the marketplace, avoiding infringement, and focusing R&D on the most valuable projects.”
Is it common for patent applications to get rejected?
“The majority of patent applications are rejected. In other words, it is normal to get a rejection. Most clients will either argue or amend their application once they receive a rejection. We often perform interviews with the patent examiner as well. There is a lot of strategy that goes into dealing with rejections and patent examiners.”
How long does the patent process for technology-related inventions take?
“The length of time from patent filing to issuance really depends on the technology. For example, the art units associated with blockchain and cryptocurrency are backlogged right now because these are hot areas with tons of new filings.”
Protecting your intellectual property is a process that will require collaboration, strategy, adaptability, and patience. Utilizing technical consultants like MotionMobs and legal expertise such as AdamsIP, LLC will help take the ambiguity out of turning your tech idea into a reality.
Contact MotionMobs to get started!