Portfolio Development and Innovation

The Hazards of Joint Development

It is very common for companies to work with their customers or suppliers in developing products. For example, if you are a supplier, you may work with a customer to provide a component that fits and meets the needs of that customer’s products.  The auto industry is full of these types of interactions.  A supplier…

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Some Key Reasons to Conduct a Patentability Search

When we first meet with a client who is interested in getting a patent, we ask whether they have conducted a patentability search and whether they wish to do so before incurring the expense of preparing a patent application. Many are reluctant to do so because they think they “know” the market for their invention….

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Employees Who Assign Patent Rights to Employers May Have Standing to Challenge Omission as Inventors

Employers do not automatically obtain legal ownership of the patent rights to their employees’ inventions simply because of the employer-employee relationship.  Thus, it is a standard practice to require employees to assign their patent rights to their employers in an employment agreement.  This practice raises the following question: Can an employee (or ex-employee) file an…

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Patenting Improved Articles That Use Proprietary 3rd Party Materials

Under U.S. law, improved articles of manufacture may be patentable if they are novel and non-obvious. Sometimes, an inventor comes up with a new article that is faster, stronger, more flexible, more rigid, lighter, etc. by using new materials to make the article. If the article has never been made with those materials, and if…

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Have Your Cake and Eat It Too – Obtaining Broad Claims That Define a Device or Apparatus Based on How it Works

Pros and Cons of Apparatus and Method of Use Claims Devices or apparatuses can often be protected by using two kinds of patent claims: apparatus and method of use claims. Each approach has its benefits and drawbacks. In general, apparatus claims expand the class of direct infringers relative to method of use claims but are…

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Are You and Your Patent Attorney Challenging Each Other?

Since we have been living with managed medical care for some time, many people have become accustomed to the idea that they need to act as their own advocate when dealing with medical professionals.  Thus, we have become more comfortable with questioning our doctor’s opinions and the bases for them and with the idea that…

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Top 5 Reasons for Getting Patents

This time of the year it is common to publish lists of everything ranging from the top songs to the top movies to the best and worst dressed people. Last year we published a list of the top 10 misconceptions about patents which we encounter in our work. This year we thought we would provide…

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Are Your Competitors Gaining On You? – Monitoring Competitor Patent Activities

How aware are you of your competitor’s patenting activities? Are they seeking patents that could impact your development of future product lines in your technology area? Are they moving into new technologies that could be game-changers? Are new players entering your space? One way to gain some insight into your competitor’s activities is to monitor…

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Five Attributes of Companies With Strong Patents

In our role as patent counsel to big companies, small companies, and individual inventors, we are fortunate to see how certain patent holders are able to obtain strong, valuable patents. Based on our experience, here are five key attributes of those who have successful patent programs: 1.   They Understand The Economic Advantage Of Their Patents…

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The Dangers of “Stuffing” Your Patent Applications with Undeveloped Ideas

Many companies build an IP portfolio around particular products, and the portfolio evolves over time as new refinements and improvements to the original concept are developed.  This sometimes raises the question of whether various different inventions should be consolidated into a single application or split into separate applications.  One benefit to consolidation is that it…

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