17 Seconds #11

17 Seconds: useful info quickly.

17 Seconds

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.

17 Seconds #9

17 Seconds gives you useful info quickly.

17 Seconds

All modern patent law is a derivative of the Venetian Patent Act of 1474, which was designed to encourage “men of great genius” (and, unfortunately, they did mean men) to come to Venice.

Today if you have a product that is better, faster, and stronger than the competition’s, then you should be able to get a patent for it.

With a patent, you get to exclude others from making and using the patented thing for a period of time. Society’s quid pro quo is the knowledge of how to make and use the thing.

The model breaks when there is no thing. Enter patent trolls. A patent troll is a non practicing entity (NPE), someone who owns a patent but doesn’t make a product.

But what about universities like MIT, who produce research but not things? What about the independent inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, whose idea was stolen? Are they patent trolls?

No, not all NPEs are patent trolls. A patent troll is like art (or perhaps the lack thereof): you know it when you see it.

Which explains one of Clocktower’s trademarks:

Lawyers For Human Beings. (Patent trolls, trademark bullies, and cybersquatters need not apply.)