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As of 2015-05-13, the United States is part of the Hague Agreement. What this means is that it is now easier to get protection for design patents in multiple countries. There are other treaties that do similar things for different flavors of intellectual property:
- Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) – for utility patents
- Madrid Protocol – for trademarks
- Hague Agreement – for design patents
It is, of course, very easy to over-spend on foreign IP rights.
- If revenue/COUNTRY >= $5.0 million, then consider patents in COUNTRY.
- If revenue/COUNTRY >= $0.5 million, then consider trademarks in COUNTRY.
Where COUNTRY is a variable.
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Why do I like working with startups? There are many reasons. One of the biggest is that startups have the most intellectual property needs early in their lifecycle, and that’s precisely when Clocktower can do the most good.
The single biggest thing that all companies (not just startups) can do to strengthen their patents and trademarks is to integrate IP planning into the product lifecycle. Every time you are launching a new product, launching an incremental improvement to a product (think version 1.1 of your software), rebranding a product, or buying/selling a company, you should involve your IP counsel.
It’s way easier to do a good trademark search and pick a good name than it is to launch a product with a bad name and have to rebrand later. Search trademarks before launching to save money on rebranding.
It’s way easier to do a good patent search to see if patents make sense than it is to launch a product that might infringe other patents. Searching patents before launching also preserves your ability to get US and foreign patents.
Shortcuts in your IP strategy will always be uncovered by competent IP due diligence, which almost always precedes funding or M&A events.
Prevention is way better than cure. And way less expensive.
We recommend prevention.