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IP Intellectual Property

IP Intellectual Property Rights, Copyleft - Fair Use Rights

How to Protect Your Intellectual Property


 Special 301 Report is an annual review of the state of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection 

New search tool for inactive patents
Many registered, inactive patents could be inspiring. So, the algorithm [Joshua] Pearce and [Yuenyong] Nilsiam wrote works by scraping the US Patent Database each week when the agency updates patent statuses. Every 3.5 years, 7.5 years and 11.5 years, patents come up for renewal, and if the dues are not paid and the paperwork remains unfiled, then the patent becomes inactive and enters the public domain.”

2016 Banks are currently exploring how they can use blockchain technology for their own commercial gain, by creating their own iterations of bitcoin for internal testing. "You can take open source code, modify it and patent around the modification of it," said Carol Van Cleef, a partner at law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips. "It's really a race to the courthouse." "The scope [of the patent application] would have to be limited to the specific new feature that they add," said Paul Overhauser, managing partner at Overhauser Law Offices, a firm that specializes in intellectual property cases. "They could not get patent protection so broad as to give them any patent rights to the original source code idea of having a blockchain."

How to rescue a patent that expired for failure to pay maintenance fees.
There is a requirement to pay maintenance fees in order to keep your patent alive. Maintenance fees must be paid at 3.5 years, 7.5 years and 11.5 years after the patent has issued.
What happens if you have not paid them and want to get them back after they expired. There is a provision to “revive” a patent that has gone abandoned for failure to pay a maintenance fee.  This can be found in chapter 2590 of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedures.
There are two ways to revive a patent that has gone abandoned for failure to pay maintenance fees.  Both involve filing a petition.  The cheaper of the two petitions is a petition to revive an abandoned patent that has unavoidably gone abandoned, and the second is a petition to revive an abandoned patent that has unintentionally gone abandoned. It is almost impossible to get the patent office to agree that the failure was unavoidable, you'd have to prove that the payment was sent, from china and the postal service lost it on the way, or some other measure that is completely out of your control...
You have to check the box on the form that reads, "the failure to pay the fee was unintentional." If you file such a petition, along with the petition fee, and the maintenance fee, the patent will be revived.


1. Register for a "trade dress" so you  can file under DMCA

Google your product and if you find any selling your product registered a ‘trade dress’ on the product. A trade dress offers protection for the visual appearance or packaging of a product. This will be more effective than a patent, because it falls under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. There is no debate. Either they have to remove it from the Internet and stop selling it or Google will shut them down,” she says. A trade dress isn't for everyone, it protects the look of a product.

2. Hire a patent attorney

Hired a patent attorney to search for similar items to the one you invented and file a patent application. (A patent attorney’s fees may run from $5,000 to $15,000.)

Patent your work, to keep out potential copy-cats and this will help you when talking to investors as well as potential retailers, since a patent would be necessary to secure their backing. No investor or retailer wants to risk money in something that has an easy chance of getting knocked off.

3. Shut down the copycat’s website.

How to Find Which Host a Website is Using:

  1. Look up the offending site.
  2. Check the "Hosting company" field.
  3.  Find the copyright contact info for the hosting company from #2 as listed with the US Copyright Office.


Sometimes the best patent protection is Take Down letter paired with an understanding Internet provider.

Whiner and Diner makes pet beds and other products out of highly finished, decorated used wine crates. Knock-offs show up all the time on craft site Etsy. “It’s terrible, horrible. They copy the product, they re-write all our descriptions and titles. One store just copied and pasted the whole website,” says owner Catherine Simms. “I work on the website myself. It took me years to learn about optimization. But if I optimize my text and then they use that text, they may show up before we do!” (Etsy's copyright and /intellectual property policy, which includes a procedure for reporting infringements, is here. Etsy offers information on protecting one's work here.)

Confronted, most rip-offs will simply deny the violation. “They send a very polite letter saying: We just happen to manufacture the same thing and we’re not using your company name, so it’s okay,” Simms says.

When a cease-and desist letter is not enough to resolve the issue, Simms goes to the offending website’s hosting company with a request to remove the questionable content. Yahoo! has complied twice, as have other hosts. So far, this has proven her best defense. “When it’s obvious, the hosting companies will just shut them down,” she says.

4. File for a trademark.

Subscribe to Google Alerts for any new web pages that mention your name. Recently he was surprised to see a company operating under a nearly identical name, and moved quickly to register a trademark. “Since we are already using the name and have been using it for a while, we still have the rights to the name with or without a trademark, but having a trademark registered makes the process a lot easier.”

Securing the name was challenging, but not excruciating. “Filing for a trademark is a pretty simple process when you take the time to read the instructions the [United States Patent and Trademark Office] provides,” he says. “The instructions are very detailed and may seem confusing but after reading them a couple times it will all make sense.”

With the name locked down, Yahfoufi now is working to secure a patent for his technology. His advice to others in the tech trade: “Do not put this on the back burner. It is important. Start the process today.”


The shift from granting monopolies to the aristocracy through nepotism or preference to granting monopolies to individuals on the basis of originality and contribution to industry laid the groundwork for the contemporary global intellectual property regime.

2013 The United States Transitions To A 'First-Inventor-To-File' Patent System
The United States has long had a “first-to-invent” patent system in which the date of invention could trump the date of filing a patent application in determining patent rights. However, that is set to change due to the America Invents Act (AIA), a sweeping patent reform bill signed into law by President Obama in September 2011.
For patent applications with an effective filing date of March 16, 2013 or later, the United States shifts to what is often – and only partially accurately – called a “first-inventor-to-file” or “first-to-file” system. The reality is more complex than those designations imply, as patent rights in the United States under the first-to-file system will depend on the interplay between the dates of filing and of any pre-filing disclosures of the invention.

2012 Google offering called the Prior Art Finder, in which it tries to help anyone find prior art on patents. When you view a patent via Google's patent database, there will now be a button you can click, which tries to take terms from the patent, and displays a variety of related info from the date that the patent was filed:
What I find most interesting about this is the fact that they're dating the results of the search to anything existing prior to the date of the filing. One of the big complaints that people make when others discuss how obvious or non-novel a patent is, is that it's impossible to go back to how the world was at the time the patent was filed. This effort seems to take one step in the direction of fixing that, though the quality of the results will matter quite a bit. I do wonder how useful this tool will be in the early days (especially concerning much older patents when there wasn't nearly as much info online), but I could see how it would become much more useful in the future, as Google both improves it and when it's searching a much larger database of knowledge and information.

US Begins Process Of Forcing Extreme IP Enforcement Across Africa
We've noted a few times recently that over the last few years WIPO has at least appeared to be more receptive to views from developing nations that strict copyright and patent enforcement could do a lot more damage than good. There are actually tons of compelling economic evidence that developing countries are best off mostly ignoring IP laws as they grow. Hell, the US is example number one of a country that completely ignored foreign IP laws while it developed, much to its advantage. Of course, the US, which leads the developed countries these days, absolutely hates this concept and has taken a strong maximalist position that all countries must respect US IP laws (or go even further). A big part of the reason that ACTA was negotiated outside of WIPO was because WIPO was actually listening to countries like Brazil and India that were expressing concerns about over-enforcement and the harms it created.
However, WIPO itself has expressed concerns about this... but rather than working to convince the US that its approach is incorrect, it looks like WIPO may be going back in the other direction of supporting pure maximalism (i.e., the US agenda). Witness the ridiculous situation shaping up in Africa, where "WIPO" isorganizing a "training" program about intellectual property that appears to have been entirely created by the US. It's scheduled to take place in South Africa in April, but it's strictly focused on enforcement and concepts that the US supports, rather than more reasoned issues about what countries in Africa actually need:
"It’s as if the last five years didn’t happen – no WIPO Development Agenda, no discussion on copyright limitations and exceptions, no proposals in favour of libraries and archives, education, blind and visually impaired people,” said Teresa Hackett, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL). “But they did happen, and we will work to ensure that delegates attending the African IP Forum hear a diversity of opinion and perspective, and have the opportunity to debate these issues that are critically important to libraries in Africa and around the world." [snip]

Intellectual Property

If a sole proprietorship or partnership owes more money than its assets are worth, the original investors are personally responsible for the debt. In 1580, Queen Elizabeth I of England granted “limited freedom from liability” to The Golden Hind, a ship owned by Sir Francis Drake in which she was the largest shareholder. This meant that, if the enterprise incurred large debts, investors were limited in their liability only to the amount of their initial investment, leaving creditors to pick up the rest of the losses. In fact, the returns on this low-risk investment were 5,000 percent and the queen was well-pleased. Drake became a national hero, but the rest of the world thought of him as a pirate. The business model they invented underlies the modern corporation. At the time, world trade was dominated by the Dutch; so Queen Elizabeth granted a charter in 1600 to the East India Company, a group of merchants and aristocrats based on the City of London. Over the next two centuries this grew to a considerable size without ever losing its close ties to national government.

Elihu Yale was the company’s governor in Madras before endowing the college that gratefully changed its name to his. Apart from its well-known role in India, the East India Company financed James Cook’s explorations of the Pacific and controlled international trade with the American colonies. The price of expansion in competition with the Dutch was high, however, and by the 1770s the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Dutch traders and American smugglers (whom the company wanted to be prosecuted as “pirates”) were by-passing the company’s monopoly to sell cheaper tea to the small businesses supplying the lucrative American market. The Tea Act of 1773 gave the East India Company the exclusive right to sell tea to the American colonies, exempted it from taxes levied on exports to America and granted a tax refund on 17 million pounds of tea then stored unsold in England. This substantially increased the company’s profitability (the King was a major stockholder) and allowed it to undercut the prices charged by the many small businesses retailing tea in America. The Boston tea party was fuelled by resentment at being made the victims of corporate monopoly in this way. <more>


N.C. Professor is allowed to sell his class lectures online
The 60/40 split a NC professor of communication, had been selling lectures from his classes to students and others through a Web site called Independent Music Online. The lectures, in MP3 format, sold for $2.50 each, with $1.00 going to Mr. Schrag and $1.50 going to the music Web site. Professors at NC own their IP content. Engineering and science professors often receive compensation for the intellectual material they produce, so why shouldn't humanities and social sciences professors be paid as well? his lectures are meant for three audiences: students who are motivated to do well in the course and want access to supplemental material, international students who may have difficulty understanding English, and students who would prefer to skip class.

3/06 "A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a writer who claimed  [Google] infringed on his copyright by archiving a Usenet posting of his and providing excerpts from his Web site in search results."
The key ruling: "When an ISP automatically and temporarily stores data without human intervention so that the system can operate and  transmit data to its users, the necessary element of volition (willful intent to infringe) is missing," the court said.

Intellectual Property and the New Class Divisions The Chronicle 5.1.28
The concept of intellectual property has created a class division between "hackers" -- producers of information, be they academics, creative artists, or others -- and a suffocating "new ruling class" that has seized ownership of this property via patents, copyrights, and trademarks. So argues McKenzie Wark, a professor of media and cultural studies at New School University, in A Hacker Manifesto (Harvard University Press).
Q. What's new about what this so-called ruling class is doing?
A. Until the late 60s, one thought of copyright or patent as a kind of limited device, in the context of thinking of knowledge as something that should be shared. Intellectual property turns it into the
equivalent of a private-property right. That's equivalent to the enclosure of the commons, in my view.
Q. But why should information differ from any other good?
A. Information has really peculiar qualities. My possession of some piece of it does not deprive you of it. So the usual laws of scarcity don't apply. With the rise of digital technology, for the first time
we have something that can, at least in part, really escape from scarcity.
Economic logic usually starts by saying desires are infinite but means are scarce, therefore we need resource allocation. Here we have a nonrivalrous good. We have something that challenges the whole notion of scarcity. That presents a utopian possibility that one should
explore to the limit. But what one finds is that we are increasingly shoving information back into the logic of the old economy of scarce things by legal and technical means.
Q. And the new intellectual-property regime prevents "hackers" from building on or toying with products that in essence are cultural artifacts?
A. Exactly. We have the beginnings of whole new kinds of what I would call abstract-gift economy. That would include the free-software movement, for example, and the rise of listservs, and the file-sharing ... movement, which is really a social movement in all but name that is creating pressure for change ... embodied in a movement around sharing information as a gift.
Q. How can we construe intellectual property more expansively?
A. If you're a programmer, or a musician, or a philosopher, or a biologist, or a chemist -- those tend to be fairly separate cultural worlds. But all that we make is now rendered equivalent in the marketplace by the privatizing of information, by intellectual property.
So the first thing is to see a common interest that isn't really addressed by completely privatizing information. It's not in the interest of the United States or any country to make information available only to those who can pay for it. That's not how you advance science. That's not how you advance democracy.


patent - 1376, shortened form of lettre patent, lit. "open letter," from O.Fr. patente (adj.), also in M.L. (litteræ) patentes, both O.Fr. and M.L. from L. patentum (nom. patens) "open, lying open," prp. of patere "lie open, be open." Sense of "open to view, plain, clear" is first recorded 1508; the verb "to obtain right to land" is 1675; meaning "copyright an invention" is 1822, from meaning "exclusive right, monopoly."

1) Patents were invented to give entrepreneurs incentive to go out there and think it up. Then a patent would protect their ideas from being stolen. This is ok. Now it has gotten out of control. Corporations spend zillions of dollars on lawyers to get congress passing laws that protect their "property".

2) When you patent software (think microsoft) it means that it takes away the right of anybody else in our world, our culture, our society to improve it. Their license says they own it. If you tried to improve it for your own use, on your own machine, for your own business, they can come and arrest you!

3) You are stuck with the product you bought from microsoft, bugs and all. This works against the consumer. This is why open source code has become a major alternative. Now a person can improve the program to meet their own needs, kill bugs, make the program do stuff it didn't do before, stuff you need it to do - without fear of going to jail.

Search Patent Articles

Search for the applied patents granted patents, and patent applications. Patent Office Puts Applications Online published patent applications under  the American Inventors Protection Act. New applications will be published every Thursday.

Patent and Trademark Depository Library
OK - if you can't patent it then g'head copyright it instead.

Intellectual Improprieties A leading gadfly picks some of the worst patents of all time - stupid patents issued by the USPTO

Cornell sues H-P for patent infringement Damages may exceed $100M