Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks For Dummies
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A patent is the most expensive and complex type of IP (intellectual property) right. Decide whether you can protect your IP with a copyright, trademark, or service mark, or by keeping it under wraps as a trade secret before you go through the patent process.

If you and your IP professional decide that a patent is the way to go, and you have the time and money to see the process through to the conclusion, here’s the patent process in a nutshell:

  1. Make sure the invention is really yours and doesn’t belong to your boss, your spouse, or your business partner.

  2. Do a patent search to make sure that no one else has already come up with your formula, process, or invention.

  3. Check that your invention passes the three-part test — it’s new, useful, and wouldn’t be obvious to someone knowledgeable in the field.

  4. Prepare a patent application, including:

    • A short abstract of the invention

    • References to any prior applications

    • A brief discussion of the general field, background, and circumstances of the invention

    • A summary of the invention

    • A description of the best implementation of the invention, including a drawing, if applicable

    • The claims (the legal metes and bounds — dimensions and limits — of the invention)

  5. File your patent application, paying special attention to filing deadlines.

  6. Pursue and prosecute your application through the Patent Office.

  7. Appeal adverse decisions.

  8. Get the patent (if you still want it).

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Henri Charmasson is an attorney with a 35-year career in the field of intellectual property (IP) law. He has been a naming adviser to major corporations. Henri is also an inventor with his name on 15 U.S. patents and an entrepreneur who sits on the board of several small business corporations. In his early engineering career, Henri designed computer hardware. Henri has authored several articles and delivered lectures on patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret topics, and written an authoritative treatise about the art of naming companies and branding new products. Born, raised, and educated in sunny Provence, France, he’s found in California the ideal place to exert his enterprising spirit.

John Buchaca, also an Intellectual Property law attorney, is a former software engineer and occasional inventor, and has worked with Henri for more than 15 years. Indeed, when Henri wrote the first edition of this book, John regarded himself as the “first dummy.” Before becoming a lawyer, he worked in ocean acoustics analysis and modeling and computer programming. His undergraduate degree is in applied mathematics. But his highest claim to fame (according to Henri) is to be married to Henri’s daughter and to be the father of two of Henri’s grandchildren. He lives in San Diego, California where he is a partner at Charmasson, Buchaca & Leach, LLP, an IP law firm.

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