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The Law Office of Joan I. Norek

        Intellectual Property

            Chicago, Illinois

                                                    w w w . n o r e k l a w . c o m

       

 

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Intellectual Property
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Names as Trademarks
Naming and Branding
Patents
Patent Applications
Meaningful Patent Protection
Patent Infringement
Patent Interferences
Patent Marking
Patent Reexaminations
Patent Term
Patent vs Trade Secret
Patents vs Trademarks
Patenting Business Strategies
Provisional Applications
Provisional vs Non-provisional
Public Domain vs Patents
Self-Publishing
Slogans
Trademarks
More on Trademarks
Trademark Infringement
Trademark Cancellations
Trademark Oppositions
Trademark Registrations
Trademark Registration Process
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About Pages

Copyrights
Who Protects Copyrights
Copyright Registrations
Disclosure Documents
Domain Names
Hyperlinking
Idea Theft
Idea Theft Avoidance
Intellectual Property
IP Symbols
Inventors and Assignees
Names as Trademarks
Naming and Branding
Patents
Patent Applications
Meaningful Patent Protection
Patent Infringement
Patent Interferences
Patent Marking
Patent Reexaminations
Patent Term
Patent vs Trade Secret
Patents vs Trademarks
Patenting Business Strategies
Provisional Applications
Provisional vs Non-provisional
Public Domain vs Patents
Self-Publishing
Slogans
Trademarks
More on Trademarks
Trademark Infringement
Trademark Cancellations
Trademark Oppositions
Trademark Registrations
Trademark Registration Process
Work For Hire

 

 

About Pages

Copyrights
Who Protects Copyrights
Copyright Registrations
Disclosure Documents
Domain Names
Hyperlinking
Idea Theft
Idea Theft Avoidance
Intellectual Property
IP Symbols
Inventors and Assignees
Names as Trademarks
Naming and Branding
Patents
Patent Applications
Meaningful Patent Protection
Patent Infringement
Patent Interferences
Patent Marking
Patent Reexaminations
Patent Term
Patent vs Trade Secret
Patents vs Trademarks
Patenting Business Strategies
Provisional Applications
Provisional vs Non-provisional
Public Domain vs Patents
Self-Publishing
Slogans
Trademarks
More on Trademarks
Trademark Infringement
Trademark Cancellations
Trademark Oppositions
Trademark Registrations
Trademark Registration Process
Work For Hire

 

 

About Pages

Copyrights
Who Protects Copyrights
Copyright Registrations
Disclosure Documents
Domain Names
Hyperlinking
Idea Theft
Idea Theft Avoidance
Intellectual Property
IP Symbols
Inventors and Assignees
Names as Trademarks
Naming and Branding
Patents
Patent Applications
Meaningful Patent Protection
Patent Infringement
Patent Interferences
Patent Marking
Patent Reexaminations
Patent Term
Patent vs Trade Secret
Patents vs Trademarks
Patenting Business Strategies
Provisional Applications
Provisional vs Non-provisional
Public Domain vs Patents
Self-Publishing
Slogans
Trademarks
More on Trademarks
Trademark Infringement
Trademark Cancellations
Trademark Oppositions
Trademark Registrations
Trademark Registration Process
Work For Hire

 

 

About Pages

Copyrights
Who Protects Copyrights
Copyright Registrations
Disclosure Documents
Domain Names
Hyperlinking
Idea Theft
Idea Theft Avoidance
Intellectual Property
IP Symbols
Inventors and Assignees
Names as Trademarks
Naming and Branding
Patents
Patent Applications
Meaningful Patent Protection
Patent Infringement
Patent Interferences
Patent Marking
Patent Reexaminations
Patent Term
Patent vs Trade Secret
Patents vs Trademarks
Patenting Business Strategies
Provisional Applications
Provisional vs Non-provisional
Public Domain vs Patents
Self-Publishing
Slogans
Trademarks
More on Trademarks
Trademark Infringement
Trademark Cancellations
Trademark Oppositions
Trademark Registrations
Trademark Registration Process
Work For Hire

 

 

About Pages

Copyrights
Who Protects Copyrights
Copyright Registrations
Disclosure Documents
Domain Names
Hyperlinking
Idea Theft
Idea Theft Avoidance
Intellectual Property
IP Symbols
Inventors and Assignees
Names as Trademarks
Naming and Branding
Patents
Patent Applications
Meaningful Patent Protection
Patent Infringement
Patent Interferences
Patent Marking
Patent Reexaminations
Patent Term
Patent vs Trade Secret
Patents vs Trademarks
Patenting Business Strategies
Provisional Applications
Provisional vs Non-provisional
Public Domain vs Patents
Self-Publishing
Slogans
Trademarks
More on Trademarks
Trademark Infringement
Trademark Cancellations
Trademark Oppositions
Trademark Registrations
Trademark Registration Process
Work For Hire

 

 

About Pages

Copyrights
Who Protects Copyrights
Copyright Registrations
Disclosure Documents
Domain Names
Hyperlinking
Idea Theft
Idea Theft Avoidance
Intellectual Property
IP Symbols
Inventors and Assignees
Names as Trademarks
Naming and Branding
Patents
Patent Applications
Meaningful Patent Protection
Patent Infringement
Patent Interferences
Patent Marking
Patent Reexaminations
Patent Term
Patent vs Trade Secret
Patents vs Trademarks
Patenting Business Strategies
Provisional Applications
Provisional vs Non-provisional
Public Domain vs Patents
Self-Publishing
Slogans
Trademarks
More on Trademarks
Trademark Infringement
Trademark Cancellations
Trademark Oppositions
Trademark Registrations
Trademark Registration Process
Work For Hire

 

 

 

FAQS

frequently asked questions
ask

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Q:  Do you apply a patent marking to your marketing collateral for a patented product? If so, what form should it take?

A:  Presuming that "marketing collateral" means promotional material, the marking is simply the patent number, i.e., "US Patent No. _______". Such patent marking should be placed on the product, and placing it on promotional material is also recommended.
 

Q:  A company has been manufacturing a product that was once patented in the 50's. This company has tried to acquire exclusive rights to manufacture the product through trade dress protection, or registering the image of the product. Is this "through the back door" approach effective or legal, and can I start manufacturing the product itself?

A: Yes and no. Presuming that the expired 1950's patent was a utility patent, the design/appearance of the product as depicted in the patent drawings went into the public domain when the patent issued and the functional subject matter disclosed in the patent went into the public domain when the patent expired. (I am presuming in this answer that by "registering" you mean a trademark registration on the product's design or a part of it.) Neither trademark or trade dress protection has a "new" requirement equivalent to patent protection. To be protectable as a trademark, the subject (words, graphics, product appearance) must be capable of "flagging" to the relevant consumer population that it is acting as a brand name, signaling the source of the product. There is therefore a potential that this company may succeed in acquiring exclusive rights in the product's appearance. (Calling the odds on success would require an evaluation well outside of FAQS.) Anyone can manufacture a product that has the functional features disclosed in the expired patent as long as they do not infringe another's trademark or trade dress rights in the product's appearance. I therefore strongly recommend an assessment of the situation by an experienced patent attorney before you proceed in any manner. This is not for amateurs; this is not a diy situation. 

Q:  If a provisional application is expired, may a normal patent on the same subject and even with the same detailed description be applied to the same USPTO?

A:  Yes, both a normal (non-provisional), and even another provisional, application can be filed. Because an expired provisional application is not available to the public, it is not prior art. You have, however, lost the priority-date benefit of the first provisional application.

Q:  I thought of an amazing slogan for a MLM company with over 600,000 distributors.  Would I be able to patent and license it if it's not my company?  Would I be able to market to the distributors?

A:  Unlikely. Slogans are protectible, if at all, under trademark law, and they are not in any way subject to patent protection. Trademark protection is acquired only through legitimate commercial use as a trademark by the person/entity seeking proprietary rights. more

 

Q:  Someone filed a patent application on my trade secret!

A:  Trade secrets do not protect against third-party invention.  more


Q:  Is an expired provisional patent in the public domain?

A:  No.  A provisional patent application is a confidential USPTO document not available to the public.  It's content does not enter the public domain before or after its expiration.  more

     If, however, a non-provisional application claiming priority from the provisional application is filed, and if then it is published and/or a patent is issued, the entire chain of applications is opened to the public.  more


Q:  Can I re-patent an idea if the patent is expired?

A:  No.  To be patentable, the idea must be new (among other conditions).  An idea which is described in an expired patent (or in a book, magazine, ...) is known, and therefore it cannot meet the standard of being new.  (Inventorship is also a patent condition.)


Q:  What is the difference between the symbol and the symbol?

A:  The symbol is used on trademarks that are not federally registered and the symbol is used on trademarks that are federally registered.  more


Q:  Are my trade secrets destroyed if I file a provisional?

A:  No.  Filing a provisional patent application does not destroy trade secrets.  Subsequent events (all within your control) can, however, destroy the trade secrets.  more 


Q:  Is an expired patent prior art?

A:  Yes.  Everything disclosed in a patent is prior art, and the eventual expiration of the protection it provides its owner has no impact on its prior art status.


Q:  What is "patentable weight."

A:  A feature or characteristic that has patentable weight is capable (or possibly capable), if included in the claims, of raising a claim from a not-allowable to an allowable status.   
 

Q:  Can my patent application be corrected?

A:  No, if you mean correction to cure a defect (error, omission, etc.) in the description, because no new matter can be added.  A continuation-in-part (CIP) application with a corrected description can be filed, but the new matter therein has a priority date only as of the CIP filing date.


Q:  Can I get an extension on my provisional?

A:  No.  more  


Q:  Someone has stolen my ideas by copying my business format after visiting visiting my website.  Can I stop them?

A:  No.  Commercial exposure of your business format puts it into the public domain, freely available for use by others (unless protected by a patent).


Q:  Is a patent enforceable during the time it is in a USPTO reexamination procedure?

A:  Yes.  more


Q:  When does patent infringement start?

A:  Patent infringement can occur only during the term of a patent.  The possibility of patent infringement therefore does not arise until a patent has issued.  (A patent application is just an application, not a patent, and therefore cannot be infringed.)


Q:  What is the current USPTO backlog in processing patent applications?

A:  According to the USPTO, the current delay between filing and prosecution (patent examiner examination of an application and issuance of the first Office Action) is between one and six years.  more on patent application examination


Q:  Can I get an extension on my provisional patent application?

A:  No.  There are no extensions available.  more


Q:  Can I put a patent on a slogan?

A:  No.  Not even close.  more


Q:  Why are patent applications examined?

A:  Because patents are not available upon request.  Patents are issued only when and if the application and its subject matter are determined to meet the required standards.  more


Q:  Where do I find an application to protect my trade secret?

A:  Trade secrets are not protected by filing an application, anywhere - trade secrets are not registered or recorded etc.  more


Q:  Where is the Chicago patent office?

A:  There is only one patent office in the U.S., and it is in Alexandria, Virginia.  Its website is www.uspto.gov and its business is conducted by mail and electronics.  No need to stop in.


Q:  What about mail-it-to-myself patent protection?

A:  No way.  Please see about disclosure documents (USPTO program discontinued), patents, and idea theft avoidance.


Q:  Who protects copyrights?

A:  In the U.S., it is the U.S. Copyright Office (and no one else).  more


Q:  Is it better to get a patent or a trademark registration?

A:  Both is best (if possible) and never shelve a potential patent for a mere trademark.  See patents vs trademarking (most recommended)   


Q:  Should I bother to patent my product?

A:  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Depends.  See patent it or not


Q:  How can I protect a slogan?

A:  Slogans are not protectable under the patent law or copyright law.  They might be protectible under the trademark law if properly used as a trademark or service mark.  Warning -  slogans used only by displaying on the front of t-shirts etc. will likely be refused registration on 'merely ornamental use'.  more
 

Q:  I have a copyright registration on a very important technique, and someone is out there using it.  How do I stop that?

A:  See an experienced IP attorney quickly, but expect a disappointment.  Copyright protects only how you said it, not what you said.  more


Q:  I want to sell my idea to a certain company about its buying another company.  Should I protect my idea with a patent before I contact them?

A:  Unfortunately, that type of idea typically cannot be protected under the patent law.  more


Q:  Are patents considered intellectual property?

A:  Yes, and patents are possibly of the highest sophistication in the IP field.  Note that some firms have IP practices that exclude patents.  Possibly they have no registered patent attorneys.


Q:  Does the U.S. Patent Office provide assistance to inventors?

A:  The United States Patent and Trademark Office is not enabled to provide hands-on assistance, but it does provide a wealth of information.  See their Index to topics for independent inventors at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip/index.htm.  A link for the Index is also on the USPTOs home page a www.uspto.gov.


Q:  How long does a patent last?

A:  U.S. utility patent - begins on date of patent issuance and ends twenty years after the filing date, which comes out to lasting about 17 years (if a patent is issued and if periodic maintenance fees are paid).  U.S. design patent lasts fourteen years from date of issuance.  more -  patent term


Q:  Can I have trade secret protection for an expired patent?

A:  Probably not.  When a patent expires, everything disclosed in it is in the public domain.  more - patent or trademark it  


Q:  Our company has filed a patent application on a new product.  The designer quit last year, and his new employer has just introduced its version of the product.  Can we stop them?

A:  Probably not, or not yet.  You cannot seek an injunction under the patent laws until a patent issues, and then only if the other's product infringes the issued patent claims.  You could, and probably should, put them on formal notice if your patent attorney believes (1) a patent probably will eventually issue (2) with one or more claims infringed by their version.


Q:  Can I add links on my website to media articles about my company?

A:  Only if permission is requested and granted.  more


Q:  Should we use the after our trademark?

A:  Yes if the trademark is federally registered, and no if it isn't.  more


Q:  How often does a business need an IP audit.

A:  Once a year is the general recommendation.  More frequently for trademark issues if the business has a fast turnover in advertising copy or frequent website changes.


Q:  What can I do if someone steals my idea?

A:  Depends.  more and about avoiding idea theft

 
Q:  We have a federal registration for our trademark for automotive vehicle parts.  We have just added automotive vehicle cleaners to our product line.  Should we use the after the trademark on these products also?

A:  No, not until you have registered the trademark for the cleaners also.


Q:  Are you an attorney or a registered patent attorney, and can registered patent attorneys do trademarking?

A:  Both an attorney and a registered patent attorney, and yes registered patent attorneys can and often do handle other IP matters such as trademark registrations.  (Presuming that by "trademarking" you mean registration of trademarks and service marks.)  more - see Firm Profile and About Trademarks pages


Q:  I saw an awesome item for sale at a street fair last summer, and want to know if I can put a patent on it.

A:  Probably no and no.  Only the inventor or the inventor's assignee can seek patent protection.  Someone who sees, or even buys, an item created by another does not, by these activities, become the inventor or the inventor's assignee.  In addition, public use, publications about and sales of an item preclude seeking U.S. patent protection unless an application is filed within one year of the first date on which any of such activities occurred.


Q:  Can I trademark my website's domain name?

A:  Presuming the question is whether a domain name is (or can become) a trademark, the answer is yes, if (1) you use the domain name as a trademark and (2) the words are not a generic term for the products or services you sell.  more - see About Domain Names, About Trademarks and About Trademark Registrations pages


Q:  What does "put a patent" on something mean.

A:  A now commonly used phrase for obtaining patent protection.  Misleading because it incorrectly suggests that obtaining patent protection just requires filling out some forms and paying a fee.  more - About Patent Applications, Examination of Patent Application and Patent Application Ready pages


Q:  I've had no luck getting my book published.  Is self-publishing a reasonable option?

A:  Yes if, and only if, you can afford to risk the outlay.  more


Q:  Do I need to file a provisional to get a "patent pending"?

A:  No.  Filing a conventional non-provisional patent application also gets a "patent pending." more    


Q:  Isn't trade secret protection better than patent protection because it won't expire?

A:  Trade secret longevity is potential only, and provides no protection against independent development or reverse engineering.  more - patent or trade secret it


questions, inquiries - contact the firm (all contact modes) or call 312.419.8055
 

 

 
     


The Law Office of Joan I. Norek
25 E. Washington Street, Suite 1400
Chicago, Illinois  60602
Tel.  312.419.8055   Fax 312.236.6686
Contact the Firm

 

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Copyright 2004 - 2014 Joan I. Norek, The Law Office of Joan I. Norek 
All rights reserved.
noreklaw, noreklaw.com and PatentAttitude are trademarks and service marks of Joan I. Norek, Chicago, Illinois.

Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.  This website provides information and resources but is neither legal advice nor a substitute for the legal advice of an IP attorney.  Retentions are subject to the discretion of the firm.
This website was designed and constructed by Joan I. Norek.