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Advice from an attorney that spends only a little time filing trademarks -- in between real estate closings, tax advice, corporate securities work or setting up trusts -- isn't going to work.
You might need a trademark, but which one?
Sometimes, young attorneys profess to be intellectual property attorneys but have little or no practical experience.
How is that going to help you?
It can take 3 years to get a single patent issued. It can take 6 months to a year to register a single trademark.
Can you trust a lawyer with only a few years of experience to protect your company's most valuable asset, its IP?
Is a self-proclaimed "expert" CERTIFIED by a state bar in intellectual property?
What are "patent agents"?
A patent agent is someone that started out as a patent examiner or passed the patent agent exam.
Regardless, a patent agent can't help you with anything other than preparing and filing patent applications.
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
A patent agent can't advise you what types of IP are really needed for your particular business.
Do you want to flush thousands of dollars?
Bad advice, even if free, has a long term cost.
You can't afford to lose your time, money, and IP rights
And you want to avoid getting sued.
A patent agent can't help you with any of this.
I've Heard of A Cheap Alternative...
An entrepreneur said he safeguarded his rights by mailing a letter to himself. He called it a "poor man's patent."
Advice like this is worse than useless. It's dangerous.
Ever since the AIA was enacted, America is now "first to file"!
So, not only will sending yourself a letter NOT get you a patent, but also it won't stop you from being sued, either.
Bad advice can prevent you from doing the right thing!
- Your company needs to OWN its copyrights, domain names, trademarks, trade secrets and inventions. All of its IP!
- Then, you need to PROTECT the IP that provides the most value to your company.
- Only then should you spend the time and effort to GROW the value of its IP.
I call this deceptively simple 3-step process the OWN PROTECT GROW® process. (Yes, its trademarked!)
Knowing WHAT to do and WHEN to do it and HOW to go about it can seem complicated, and entrepreneurs frequently get overwhelmed by it all.
Some entrepreneurs see IP is a minefield. Do one thing wrong and BOOM, Doomsday!
It doesn't have to be that way. (More on that later...)
Just Do It...
Some people will tell you "just do it" ...
Are you willing to wait until you receive a letter from some Big Competitor threatening a lawsuit?
This type of letter is called a "Cease & Desist" or "Demand" letter ... for a reason.
Your Big Competitor is going to demand that you immediately stop infringing its IP.
Nearly all IP lawsuits I've seen could have been avoided easily ...
... if only the entrepreneur had asked my advice.
It can cost 10's of thousands ... minimum ... (more likely 100's of thousands)
Legal fees, costs and lost sales all add up by the time a small business finds its way out!
In fact, I've seen small businesses go out of business SOLELY due to IP litigation.
Imagine what happens when your customers hear about it!
What does hearing that your company stole somebody's IP do to your credibility?
And will your customers become afraid of being sued too, if they continue using your products or services?
Are you willing and able to indemnify them?
IP litigation isn't rare or cheap.
It's all too common for startups to get into trouble with BIG Brands.
I met an entrepreneur last week that got a C&D letter from Facebook when he launched is first startup, because his brand name ended in "BOOK".
He called the attorney on the letter, because CERTAINLY Facebook couldn't claim exclusive use of "book" as a brand for social media platforms.
The attorney for Facebook said he had a $50 million budget for litigation, without having to go back and ask Facebook for more, and asked what the entrepreneur's budget was...
Trademark bullying is real, but facing a litigation from Facebook is real too. Do you really want the distraction of litigation, even if you're right?
He changed the startup's brand name.
He was lucky.
Usually the C&D letter comes AFTER the startup is getting good traction in the marketplace, when real, tangible success is just within the entrepreneur's grasp!
The new brand name was better AND more distinctive. So, yes, he was lucky!
The COSTS of changing a brand name are always much greater, at that point, than it would have been to pick a more distinctive brand name.
I Can Wait To Protect My iP...
One very popular option is to wait until you can "afford" IP.
If you don't OWN your IP, then somebody else does!
It can be very expensive to fix the "ownership" issue ... AFTER your company is generating revenue.
The IP could have been transferred at no additional cost to you with a simple form.
Suddenly, when an apparently successful company comes asking him or her to sign an agreement, later, when you get around to fixing the ownership issue, ...
... the IP rights are very valuable indeed!
Success breeds envy, envy greed, and greed...
Well, greed gets expensive.
How much is it going to cost you?
What if the owner won't SELL?
How much will it cost your company to rebrand, recreate content, redesign marketing, rewrite software, or design around an invention?
How many sales would you have made if you could have kept the momentum going?
How much money are you leaving on the table if a buyer agrees to FIX this AFTER the sale of your company?
Or does the sale just fall through?
Retooling and recalibrating a system that's finally working costs way more than you might think.
If you do nothing... the chance your company actually owns its valuable IP is zero, zip, nada!
You've got to take action to own your IP. So, waiting just isn't an alternative.
Another path that can lead to disaster is to rely on IP advice:
- of a friend
- a mentor
- some online guru
- a more experienced entrepreneur...
(anything but a board certified, experienced IP attorney)
Sometimes, if you're lucky, advice from a self-styled "expert" might be better than doing nothing.
Other times... not so much.
So, in the words of Harry Callihan
(References Clint Eastwood's character in "Dirty Harry", a dark crime film from back in the 70's)
"Do ya feel lucky?"
I can do it myself...
Then, there is the DYI'er.
Well intentioned and seeing no affordable alternatives, the DYI'er sets out to learn and do everything needed to own, protect and grow the value of his or her IP on his or her own.
Good for you!
After spending weeks reading and digesting everything available, confusion and overwhelm sets in.
Mistakes are made.
Time drags on and on.
Focus is lost.
...focus on the customer
...focus on the product
... focus on the brand
... focus on sales
Isn't it hard enough to launch a new product or service without having to become your own expert in everyting?
It takes an IP attorney many years to become good at his or her job under supervision of seasoned IP counsel, working full time. Maybe that's why there are only 140 Florida Bar certified IP attorneys?
Needless to say, after spending countless hours, the DYI'er is likely to learn his or her mistakes the hard way, through painful, personal experience.
Invention Promotion Companies
There are scammers out there looking to part eager "inventors" from their money.
Your invention is GREAT, they'll say.
The fees to have your "invention" marketed to companies eager to PAY for your idea seems reasonable.
These firms are notorious and go by many names.
In fact, they often change names ... frequently ... for a reason.
BEWARE if you see an ad like this...
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO SUCCEED. We’ve Got You Covered. From Friendly And Helpful Support, Fast Patent Application Process, High Quality Prototype Designs To A Huge Network Of Companies Eager To Pay Royalties For New Inventions.
Here's a typical review:
They promised me the world, and told me what a great invention i had. They are nothing but a bunch of thieves!!! Remember they are there to take your money, so no invention will be bad to them. BEWARE!!!!
There are NO companies "...eager to pay royalties for your new invention."
There ARE companies that are willing to steal your idea and pay you little or nothing.
There ARE scammers willing to part you from your money...
...and they know how to set the HOOK!
A desperate inventor is the fish.
Don't be a fish!
copyright 2019 Paradies IP Solutions, LLC