John was having a piece of chocolate with a steaming cup of coffee, when he accidentally dropped the chocolate onto the cup’s plastic lid. He removed the chocolate, leaving a tiny portion that had melted on the lid. When he resumed drinking his coffee, John thought the coffee had a chocolate flavour, even though none of the chocolate fell into the cup. He realized that it was the chocolate aroma on the lid that gave the impression of chocolate-flavoured coffee.
A light-bulb went on: why not use scented coffee lids to simulate the flavoured gourmet coffee experience without the expensive price? He began to think of lids scented with caramel, vanilla, gingerbread, and the like. He searched the internet and couldn’t find anything like it online. He hadn’t heard of it or seen it anywhere. John was convinced he had a money-maker, and was ready to spend thousands of dollars to secure patent protection. Should John secure a bank loan to do so?
Answer: No. Fortunately for John, he consulted a patent professional who performed a search of published U.S. patent documents, using sophisticated searching techniques. A US patent was found, that disclosed exactly the same product that John was seeking to patent. John had saved thousands of dollars.
Conclusion: If you are a sole inventor, invest a little bit of money for a professional search of patent databases and non-patent literature. At Shapiro Cohen LLP, we will provide you with a step-by-step, personalized process to assess the patent landscape first. We will work with you to secure your patent rights, provided your product has not already been invented by someone else.
The R&D team at a start-up company was excited about its latest findings. Team members had previously worked in academia, and immediately thought of publishing an abstract about their latest find. Besides, it would create a “buzz” in the industry, and put the company on the radar of potential investors. After all, there is no such thing as bad publicity when it comes to innovation, right?
Answer: Actually, advanced publicity can kill patent rights. If you disclose your invention to the public, then you may jeopardize your company’s rights to secure patent protection in certain countries, and you will certainly trigger a deadline to file for patent protection in other countries.
Conclusion: At Shapiro Cohen LLP, we will work with your team to ensure that your company’s patent rights are properly protected, so that you can leverage publicity of your innovation. We will outline for you various filing strategies (in North America and abroad) based on your business model. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision.
A mid-sized company was looking to open up a new avenue of development based on promising research. The head of R&D decided to forge ahead, and filed many patent applications based on new insights as they appeared. Soon, the company found itself spending tens of thousands of dollars on international applications, with redundancy between the applications. Furthermore, many pieces of prior art were being cited against the applications. What began as a promising new avenue, turned into a financial quagmire. What should the company do?
Answer: The company should do a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter of all pending patent applications, and cull the pending claims to eliminate overlap. This may even mean the abandonment of one or more applications. In addition, the company should have a patent landscape analysis of the competition before going any further. Ideally, this step should have been performed at the outset of the company’s new R&D focus.
Conclusion: At Shapiro Cohen, we will help companies to build efficient, comprehensive patent portfolios, step-by-step, by working in tandem with your R&D team. We will provide a patent landscape and together, we will forge a strategy to maximize your IP protection.