Recent Study indicates that Patents and Copyrights are the key to US Economic Recovery.
Online PR News – 18-August-2009 – – According to a recent study performed by The Manufacturing Institute, of the National Association of Manufacturers, Patents and Copyrights are key to small business economic recovery in the United States. According to the study, 85% pf US per capita growth is directly attributable to technological progress. According to Jerry Jasinowski, President of The Manufacturing Institute, “Technological innovation would be crippled without the intellectual property protections that assure inventors and investors that their work will not be stolen.” For these reasons, it is imperative that small business owners consult with a Patent and Copyright Attorney
to evaluate their options.
In spite of the importance that I Patents and Copyrights play, most small business people are completely unaware of the basics of Patent Law and Copyright Law. Most business people think of Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights as being absolute rights. In other words, most business people think that Intellectual Property rights (i.e. Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights), so long as they are registered properly will yield ironclad monopoly rights on their Intellectual Property. Unfortunately, public perception does not always agree with reality. This article will delineate the relative strengths and weaknesses of each Intellectual Property.
In some aspects, Patent Law is the strongest form of Intellectual Property. Patent law is based upon a strict liability standard. In other words, it is not relevant to a judge whether or not you knew of the existence of a particular patent. The only relevant issue is whether or not you actually infringed that patent.
Along the same lines, Patent Law is strong with respect to reverse engineering. Unlike Copyright law, a competitor cannot make an end run on the claims of a patent by simply tweaking a product here and there. The public perception is that getting around a patent is fairly easy. However, a properly drafted patent with broad claims should force others to make their competing products with inferior components, parts, and materials. So, at the end of the day, your patent should keep you at the top of the heap because your competitors will be forced to market inferior products and services.
However, unlike Trademarks and Copyrights, Patent law is weak in terms of the length of protection. Patents are only enforceable for 20 years in the case of utility patents and 14 years for design patents.
By contrast, Trademarks can be enforceable, theoretically, forever. As long as a trademark is continuously and properly used as a source identifier, that Trademark Right will continue to be in force. This holds true if a business is sold, or passed down to another generation. For instance, the German beer maker, Löwenbräu, claims a first use of its Trademark to 1383. This would make their mark roughly 626 years old.
However, Trademark rights are weak when it comes to various fair use exceptions, and the overall relative strength of its mark. For example, a Trademark such as John’s Wonderful Beer might not be able to prevent another competitor from using John’s Fantastic Beer. This analysis can change due to other strength factors beyond the scope of this article.
As with Trademark Law, Copyright Law also extends a fairly long term of protection as well. Copyright protection starts from when the work was created in addition to the life of the author, plus an additional 70 years after the death of that author. Regarding works for hire (works prepared by employees and independent contractors) the rights last for 120 years after their date of creation or 95 years from their first publication, whichever is longer. Copyright Protection is given regardless of whether the work is registered or not.
But, as with Trademark Law, Copyright Law suffers from similar weaknesses: ability for reverse engineering with regards to software, various fair use exceptions, among others.
As such, given the strengths and weaknesses of each type of Intellectual Property, one would be prudent to devise an Intellectual Property portfolio which consists of all three. Contrary to prevailing beliefs, patent law, trademark law, and copyright law can overlap. For these reasons, people are advised to seek legal guidance from an experienced Patent Attorney on what they can do to protect their Intellectual Property to generate the most extensive scope as possible. Los Angeles Patent Attorney