Students of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law presented information on patents, intellectual property and commercialization. Here are the highlights:
What are some examples of IP protection?
Examples include copyright, trademarks, trade secrets and patents.
- A copyright covers an authors expression, this could be a painting, writing or code. This gives the owner exclusive rights to make copies of their work.
- A utility patent covers a unique device or method of use. A design patent covers the way a product looks. Generally, patents protect functionality of new inventions
- Trademarks are protections for recognizable visual images or signs of a product such as words, graphics or composites.
- Trade secrets protect any data, code, business practices, formulas or information that is not generally available to the public.
For example: if you look a helmet, the design of the helmet would be protected by a design patent or copyright, the logo would be protected by a trademark and the straps would be protected by a utility patent.
When should I get IP protection?
Most copyright protections come automatically, but there are still benefits to registering such as access to federal court in the event of a lawsuit, increased damages if there is a violation of your copyright, etc. The registration process is also relatively simple, but it’s comon to not copyright something until it starts becoming copied.
Trademark protections come automatically as well in a local or regional area of use, but registering can help you get national recognition. If you register a trademark yourself then change your business to an LLC or incorporation, you will have to transfer your trademark to it from sole proprietorship.
You can expect to pay 275/trademark and up to $2,500 in legal fees.
Patents are not filed automatically and MUST be filed within a year of public disclosure of the product. Have your patent filled out in writing and organized before you even begin the process or pay anything.
You can expect to pay at least $10,000 for a patent, but the value of a patent and the protection it brings make it well worth the investment.
How can I get IP protection?
There are several options to get IP protection in the state of Indiana. This website provides a list of all IP protection resources and support in Indiana including IP clinics that offer pro bono or reduced fee services. There are also business competitions that offer free legal services as prize money. It’s also completely okay and normal to ask if an attorney offers any flat-free or pro bono services if needed.
Indiana Law’s Intellectual Property Law Clinic gives Maurer Law students real-life experience with real-life clients and their IP needs. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has certified the clinic in both patent and trademark law as part of its pilot program — a distinction awarded to fewer than 10 percent of the nation’s law schools.