Startup IP

with Jack Russo

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Mapping the landscape of IP

Jack Russo

Startup Attorney, IP Pioneer, Entrepreneur Advocate

Lessons Learned

You get one year from the date you commercialize your product to file for a provisional patent.

After filing your application, you have one year to prosecute.

Trade dress protection is primarily for the visual appearance of a product or packaging.


Lesson: Startup IP with Jack Russo

Step #6 Protection: Mapping the landscape of IP

The sea of water is the public domain so think of it as lots of published unprotected ideas. Gigantic sea of public domain knowledge, lots of unprotected publish ideas on the Internet like that. I think the Wikipedia declares that all that information is public domain. So you could say collections of knowledge even are public domain in certain websites. And then in that sea you choose a given idea, a given area to start compiling information and your business there maybe some business process that you do that's unique at least to what you're doing and that you may want or could want to get patent protection on. You got one year from the date you file to the decide that. You get one year from the day you first commercialized your site or your business to actually file.

So think of it as there’s potentially a two-year grace period if you really want to wait for the 364 day to file and then you really want to wait for the following 364 day to actually do something with it, it's never advisable to wait to the last minute. In fact, the law goes the other way. The law is it’s the first to file approach so people are actually filing early and filing skimpy things early just to get something on file. But in this pyramid you've got all your research that continues to grow daily as you talk to people. You get all your expressive slides or reports or summaries or business plans or whatever documents have your expression.

You might be selecting and keeping a list of trade secrets that you keep reminding your employees, "This is really competitive advantage. Don't disclose it. It's our secret sauce." And you could have kind of a filing machine if you put your mind to it that monthly or quarterly is filing this provisional patent applications with the view that more is better and we have time to do something with it down the road.

And then you could say, "Okay, is that it? Is that the whole story of intellectual property?" No. More of the story is in the way you do your business marketing you can have trade dress protection, kind of like your logo, your leaf, your style of business cards, your style of the website. And maybe at the very top is the actual business name or trademark and domain name that you use.

And a lot of businesses understand how important this is because one of the worst things in the world is when you establish your great business and then someone else in the meantime has taken the domain name. And we see this a lot where great businesses get started and they said, "Oh, we forgot to get the .cn for China and we really want to be in China. Somebody else has it and now they want $100,000 in a holdup." So a lot of the advanced planning you do is you could file, of course you could buy domain names, but you could also file where called intent to use trademark applications and this gives you a period of time to actually reserve the mark.

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