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Talk But Protect Your Non-patented Invention

The idea is the heart of the invention. You, the inventor, then must be extremely careful about sharing your novel idea with other people, even with people who can provide assistance to take it from an abstract idea to a real product (i.e., prototype). You should be particularly careful when you haven’t submit your patent application for it yet.


Fortunately, there are ways to talk about your non-patented invention and protect it from being stolen by others.


Learn the Law

You have to learn the law that applies to patents even before you think about discussing your ideas with every Tom, Dick and Harry who cares to listen. You don’t have to go to law school to understand the patent laws but you should strive to learn the basics, such as the types of disclosures that you can and cannot make while still protecting your idea.


You may want to present your idea to a group of angel investors. You may also put it to beta testing so as to test it marketability and profitability. You may want to write a white paper about it. Regardless of what you want to do about your idea, you have to learn the law.


Have a Confidentiality Agreement

Also known as a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), a confidentiality makes it clear – and in writing, too, for good measure – between both parties that your invention should be treated as confidential information. As such, the third parties with the privilege to know about it must not disclose or release any information about it to others without your express permission. This is a good idea if you’re talking about it to potential investors, partners, and/or vendors.


But remember that an NDA isn’t acceptable to everybody, especially where large investment firms and corporations are concerned. Indeed, you may even be asked to sign an agreement wherein you agree that your idea isn’t a secret at all so the organization has legal protection from liability!


Avoid Online Sharing

If you’re the type who likes to share nearly everything about your life online, then you should start cutting back if you have a brilliant idea that can qualify for a patent. When you post your ideas online, whether it’s on your website or on a social media site, you’re exposing yourself to two threats.


First, your idea may be stolen by your connections – or by the friends of your friends up to the sixth degree – and then run with it. You may have come up with the novel idea and somebody else profited from or was recognized for it.


Second, you’re essentially giving the social media sites where your ideas were posted the right to use it anyway they want. Read Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, particularly on the topic of intellectual property, and you will understand.


The best thing to do: File a provisional patent for your invention!



For details of the patent application, please contact us for free consulation.

CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent Application & Related Services

Why Hire An Attorney For Your Initial U.S. Trademark Application?

Filing a U.S. trademark application isn’t for the faint-hearted, so to speak, because of the time, energy and effort involved in understanding the trademark law, meeting the requirements of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and dealing with the subsequent actions (e.g., issuance of Office Action). For this reason, you should seriously consider hiring an attorney to take care of the trademark registration in your behalf.


What can an experienced lawyer, particularly one with extensive experience in trademark laws, do for you?


Provide Appropriate Legal Advice

Of course, you can file the application on your own and request the USPTO examining attorney to provide tips that will expedite your application. But the USPTO attorney cannot provide legal advice even if he wants to because otherwise it will be a conflict of interest.


The trademark attorney, in contrast, will provide legal advice regarding your application and its related issues. You can get answers to questions like, “Is the mark protectable by the trademark laws? Are the class of products and/or services that the marks apply to identifiable? Are you able to take appropriate action when the USPTO refuses to register the mark?”


Think of your attorney as your main man in ensuring that your mark becomes registered and protected from infringement by others.


Conduct Searches on the Database

Again, you can search the state and federal databases for similar trademarks as the mark you’re seeking registration for. But it’s such a time-consuming process that you likely won’t have the time and energy for, perhaps not even the patience. Besides, you will likely have other business matters to attend to.


With an attorney on board, you can delegate the task to the professional. Your attorney will search the USPTO database of registered trademarks at the federal level, as well as other databases including the state registration database and the common law unregistered trademarks database. The comprehensive search is a must because even non-registered trademarks similar to your mark and used for selling products and/or services related to yours may well prevent you from registering, using and profiting from your mark, no matter if you think it was your original idea.


Protect Your Trademark Rights

Your attorney can also provide information that will deepen your understanding of your rights and responsibilities as a trademark owner. You will also be provided with relevant advice about the best ways to monitor and enforce your rights and responsibilities, especially in terms of others infringing on your mark. You should also remember that you may also be charged of infringing on other people’s trademarks and your attorney can provide legal assistance on this matter.


The crucial role of your attorney doesn’t stop with the initial application. You can also rely on him or her for meeting the registration maintenance documents, which should be filed on a regular basis. You can then maintain ownership over your mark, a must if you want to continue profiting from it.



For details of the trademark registration application, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent Application & Related Services

The Possible Grounds For Trademark Refusal

Keep in mind that not every initial application for a trademark will be granted approval. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), specifically the examining attorney assigned to your trademark application, can issue an Office Action outlining the substantive reasons for trademark refusal of your application. This brings us to the question: What are the possible substantive reasons that your trademark application can be refused?


Likelihood of Confusion

Keep in mind that the USPTO will conduct a search of its database for conflicting marks only after an initial application has been filed. The examining attorney will determine whether your trademark being applied for has a similar one either still pending or already registered in the USPTO database. The process can take several months so patience is necessary.


The marks and the related products and/or services between your mark and the marks of other entities don’t have to be exactly the same for conflict or confusion to be considered. Instead, it’s considered sufficient if both the marks and their related products and/or services are similar in nature. The similarity should be such that consumers will likely mistakenly believe that both of them come from the same source.


The similarity can be on anything from sound and appearance to meaning. These can include phonetic equivalents, T.J. Chicken and Tee-Jay Chicken; similar appearance even when one uses another stylized; and meaning like “Lupo” and “Wolf” with both having similar images.


Merely Descriptive

The USPTO’s examining attorney will also refuse trademark registration if it merely describes a quality, ingredient, function, characteristic, purpose, or feature of the product and/or service. For example, the mark “Creamy Yogurt” or “World’s Best Bagels” are unacceptable because these merely describe the products instead of being a distinctive brand.


Deceptively Misdescriptive

The mark registration application will also be refused if the mark itself misdescribes a quality, ingredient, function, characteristic, purpose, or feature of the product and/or service; and the misrepresentation being conveyed is possible. Examples include “THC Tea” for tea-based beverages without THC.


Both the merely descriptive and deceptively misdescriptive grounds for refusal also applies to primarily geographical circumstances. There are several instances when it happens including:


  • The mark’s primary significance is a generally known geographic location; the consumers/buyers will likely think that the products and/or services come from the place stated on the mark; and the mark identifies the specific place of origin of said products and/or services. This applies to merely descriptive marks.


  • In case of a deceptively misdescriptive mark, its primary significance is a generally known geographic location; the consumers/buyers will likely think that the products and/or services come from the place stated on the mark; the products and/or services don’t actually come from the stated place; and the misrepresentation will be a significant factor in the decision-making of consumers.


With these strict requirements, you are well-advised to hire an experienced trademark attorney and consultant so that your initial application will have a higher chance of being approved.



For details of the trademark registration, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent Application & Related Services

Copyright, Trademark or Patent: How Do I Protect My App Idea?

Question is, can you protect this basic idea against copycats who seek to profit on it? If so, how? If not, what can you protect? In this post, we’ll explore how (and if) copyrights, patents, and trademarks can keep your hard work and intellectual property all your own when you enter the world of mobile app development and how to create an app that doesn’t get you into an unnecessary legal situation. What Should I Do First? There’s a lot of moving parts going on when you start the process of mobile app development. The first step is to secure your team, regardless of size or trust level. Make sure that anyone that has any contact with your app signs a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Copyright: In addition to books, songs, and plays, copyright protection actually also covers original code that you wrote for your app. More about this later. Trademark: The icon on the app store and the user’s phone, and any other symbols or unique design that identifies your app. Patent: The process by which your particular app interacts with your code, servers, and the user qualifies. Again, having an experienced attorney and app development team on your side to point these things out is a wise choice.

Can You Patent Your Invention?

The short answer: It depends on whether your invention meets the requirements stated by the Patent and Trademark Office. Not all patent applications will be recognized or registered even if the inventors insist otherwise. Not even well-known inventors with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of registered patents are assured that their pending applications will pass the stringent process.

What then can be patented? Let’s take a look at the factors that affect the success of your patent application, among other matters.


Four Requirements

According to the U.S. patent law, any individual who discovers, makes or invents any novel and useful machine, process, composition of matter, manufacture, or any novel and useful improvement on them may file for a patent. From the definition, the USPTO will grant a patent right if and when these four requirements are met:


  • The subject matter, such as a method or a machinery, should be patentable.
  • It must be new or novel.
  • It must have some usefulness or utility.
  • It must not be obvious.


You have to carefully consider whether you, indeed, have a patentable subject matter before filing its patent application. You may or may not be granted the patent but you likely won’t be given a refund if it isn’t granted – and the patent process is costly, too.


In terms of novelty, the invention should be new in the sense that it must be different from the existing knowledge in the public domain, in published applications, and from prior patents, among others; these are known as prior art.


The utility requirement is met by showing proof that the invention can physically accomplish something. In other words, it should work as the inventor intended or it produces actual results. In reality, the USPTO isn’t likely to challenge the patent based on utility unless its underlying logic has serious flaws.  Exceptions, such as on design patents that don’t need to meet the utility requirement, apply.


Concrete Evidence Required

While your idea seems novel, useful and unobvious, it cannot be protected by a patent. Instead, your idea must be embodied in one or more of these concrete manifestations, among others:


  • A method or a process, such as a new process for making concrete
  • A machine or machinery, typically with circuitry and/or moving parts (e.g., gears)
  • A manufactured item that accomplished a result with little to no moving parts
  • An asexually reproduced new plan variety
  • A new composition of matter, such as a new drug


Does your idea fall into one of these categories? You can’t be too sure even then because there are subject matters that are simply beyond the scope of patent laws. These include naturally-occurring substances (i.e., these cannot be invented); mathematical formulas (i.e., these may be copyrighted instead); laws of nature (i.e., man’s laws doesn’t apply to them); and processes that can be entirely performed with the human body (e.g., fool-proof technique for shooting a ball from the 3-point line).


For details of the patent application, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent Application & Related Services

Crucial Things To Remember About Your Trademark Application

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) conducts an intensive examination of every trademark application submitted by individuals, groups and organizations. Keep in mind that registering your trademark, which can be an image, words or sound, can be a challenging task because of the strict requirements and process, especially if you’re taking it on your own.

We suggest that you hire an experienced trademark agent or attorney to handle the dirty work, so to speak. But it also pays to know the basics of the initial application process since it’s your trademark and the rights and responsibilities that come with it rests squarely on your shoulders.


Select Your Mark Properly

If you want to start the trademark registration process on the right foot, you have to select your mark properly. You have to choose it with extreme care since not every mark can be registered with the USPTO and not every mark can also be legally protected. In case of the latter, a mark may be unacceptable as a basis for a legal claim by its owner who wants to prevent others from using a similar mark on related products and/or services.


You don’t want to make the rookie mistake of submitting an initial application for your trademark only to find out that it cannot be registered. Aside from checking that, indeed, it can be registered, you have to determine the ease and effectiveness of protecting it based on its strength.


You have to take note, too, that USPTO isn’t responsible for the enforcement of your trademark – its primary function is to register trademarks and patents. You, the trademark owner, have the primary and exclusive responsibility for its enforcement including when others are using it to their commercial advantage.


You should also take note of the acceptable format of marks before submission to the USPTO. You must also precisely identify your products and/or services that the mark will be applied on.


Search the Database

Before you file a trademark application, you should also search the USPTO database for similar marks. Your main goal: To determine whether another individual or organization has already claimed trademark rights similar to your mark and used them on related products and/or services through a federal registration.


A clearance search will save costs on trademark registration, too, since the USPTO generally doesn’t grant refunds. Thus, even if your initial application isn’t approved for one reason or another, a refund check won’t be in your mail.


You must also know that any and all personal information submitted to the USPTO at any point in the application and registration process becomes public record. Your full name, phone number and e-mail address, and street address will be part of the public database, which may or may not be a cause for concern on your part.


For details of the trademark registration, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent and Trademark Application & Related Services

Mistakes Derailing Your Trademark Application

Yes, you may have a unique trademark – or at least, you think you have it. But before making brash decisions, you should take a step back and remember that the Patent and Trademark Office doesn’t mess around when it comes to the registration process. You may think that it’s easy enough, especially after reading countless articles on the subject matter, but it isn’t because of the strict filing requirements and the bureaucratic procedures.

Arguably, the worst mistakes that you can do before filing a trademark application are these two things.


Not Hiring An Experienced Trademark Agent or Attorney

Keep in mind that the trademark application process is a legal proceeding protected by the trademark laws. As such, individuals, groups and organizations can be subjected to penalties including fines, surcharges and suspensions in case of violations of trademark laws.


As such, it’s of crucial importance to hire an experienced agent or attorney with a valid license to practice trademark law. Better yet, hire an experienced trademark agent or attorney with a proven track record of success in the field, if you want to increase your chance of success in getting your trademark registered.


Of course, you can file the application on your own but there are many pitfalls to such a do-it-yourself approach. You may well find that the documentary requirements can be voluminous and stringent while the process can be bureaucratic. You won’t likely have the right knowledge and skills to deal with the legal process and, thus, make a mess of it.  Your trademark application can be delayed and its registration jeopardized.


Not Checking That Your Mark Can Be Registered

Your trademark application must be in compliance with many legal requirements before it can be approved for registration. You don’t just fill in the forms, whether you’re filing online or in paper, even if you’re in a hurry to claim the mark (i.e., competitors are using a similar one), lest you find yourself in a bind.


In this regard, you have to ask yourself several questions including:

  • Can your mark actually be registered under the rules and regulations?
  • Can you identify the good and/or services covered by your mark?
  • Can you determine the filing basis for your initial application?


Your trademark agent or attorney can answer these questions and provide guidance on several related matters.  With your trademark registered, you have the assurance that your brand names including the slogans and logos used on your products and/or services will be protected from unauthorized use by other entities.


For details of the trademark registration, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent and Trademark Application & Related Services

The Types Of United States Patents Explained Briefly

According to the United States patent law, inventors can secure and protect their rights to their works by applying for a patent. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) classifies patents into four different types and an inventor can apply for one or two patents, such as a utility patent and provisional patent.

Utility Patent

When people think of a patent, it’s most likely that they are referring to or thinking of a utility patent. Keep in mind that a utility patent is a lengthy technical document with details about the use of a new machine, system, or process. The document can contain descriptions, drawings and images of the invention, a must for its registration.


Congress defines the kinds of inventions covered by utility patents. But with Internet-delivered software, the Internet of Things, and genetic engineering, among other emerging technologies, the definition is being challenged.


Provisional Patent

Under the patent law, an inventor can file a less formal document as proof that he was in possession of the invention and he had sufficient knowledge of how to make it work (i.e., the utility requirement). This is known as a provisional patent, which goes hand in hand with a utility patent.


Let’s say that you filed a provisional patent for your invention. When it’s on file, your patent is considered as pending and you have the applicable property rights to your invention. You should file a formal utility patent within one year from filing the provisional patent.


Design Patent

The design patent doesn’t need to meet the utility requirement since it protects decorative design on a utilitarian item. The typical design patent document consists almost entirely of drawings or pictures with a few words and, thus, these are notoriously difficult to search on the USPTO database.


This can be applied for a wide range of ideas and items. These include the design for shoes, the shape of a designer bottle, and even user interfaces.


Plant Patent

A plant patent is obviously designed to protect new types of plants that have been produced through non-sexual methods, such as cuttings. Emphasis must be made that it generally covers conventional horticulture and not genetically modified organisms (GMOs).


You don’t have to be limited to filing a single patent on an invention. You can actually file two patents for a single item!


You may file a provisional patent on your invention so you have one year to decide when and how to file its related utility patent.  In doing so, you’re expanding patent protection and mitigating your risk of another person claiming the same or similar invention.


Regardless of the type of patent you chose, your main goal is to protect your invention from infringement by others. You will then have a higher chance of getting a good return on your investment once you start profiting from your invention.


For details of the patent application, please contact us for free consulation.



CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent and Trademark Application & Related Services

Registering Your Trademark Is A Must

In a world obsessed with brands, both on the part of the producers and the consumers, even small businesses have to register trademark! The cost of not doing so can jeopardize the business, as illustrated by the case of Drop Anchor Brewing and Anchor Brewing Co.


A Good Example

Anchor Brewing Co., a large California-based brewery, sent Drop Anchor Brewing, a small Washington State-based craft brewery, a cease and desist letter asking it to stop using the word “Anchor” in its name. The former’s allegation was that it has federal trademark registration over the word and, thus, it has exclusive use of it in the beer industry. The result: Drop Anchor Brewing changed its name as well as everything else on its logo, signs, labels, taps, and even shirts to avoid a costly lawsuit – but the cost of these changes still cost it an arm and a leg.

This case illustrates the benefits of getting your trademark registered on one hand and the hazards of not doing so on the other hand.


A Host of Reasons to Register ASAP  

Don’t think that Drop Anchor Brewing’s case won’t happen to you for whatever reason, such as you’re just a small company with a novel idea. You will be surprised at the intense competition for ideas, goods and services in the market so vigilance is the key.

Why register your brand or mark ASAP, if you haven’t done so yet? Here are four reasons to think about.


  • Setting your brand for success

When you register your brand and its associated images as a trademark, you’re setting it up for success because a brand equals an identity. Your brand identity distinguishes your business and its products and/or services from the rest of the competition – and with a brand-obsessed society, such distinction is crucial to your success.


  • Expanding your business

While you can have exclusive right to use your business name, you can only do so within the state where it’s registered, not on the federal level. Furthermore, your business may have common law trademark protection but it only applies to the geographic area where it’s been used.


When you decide to expand your business operations, particularly opening out-of-state branches, you may run into issues with competitors, consumers and government regulatory agencies. Your target customers, for example, may confuse your brand and business with other businesses with similar names or images. Your competitor with a federal trademark may also file a lawsuit, limit your operations, and/or force a name change, all of which will be costlier than if you registered your trademark at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the first place.

The bottom line: A trademark registration at the USPTO provides you and your business national exclusive rights over your brand and its related images. This alone comes with a wide range of benefits so act as soon as you can.

For details of the trademark registration, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent,

Trademark Registration & Related Services

What Are The Types Of IP Protection right for you?

Patents, copyrights and trademarks are different from each other and each one serves a different purpose. All three, nonetheless, are forms of intellectual property (IP) protection that every individual with an invention, an idea, or a trademark should seriously consider.

Patents Are For Inventions

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues patents, the grant of property rights to an inventor. In general, a new patent has a term of 20 years from the date when its application for a patent was filed in the United States. In special cases, however, the term starts from the date an earlier related application was filed but the maintenance fees must be updated. Under certain circumstances, the patent holder can apply for patent term adjustments or extensions.


The patents filed with the USPTO are only effective within the United States as well as to its possessions and territories. Many, if not most, inventors then apply patents for their inventions in an international body to protect their inventions in certain jurisdictions.


The property rights conferred by a patent include “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the item covered in the United States, as well as from “importing” it into the United States. Keep in mind that what’s actually granted isn’t the right to make, use, sell, offer for sale, or import the item but the right to exclude others from doing so.


Trademarks Are for Words and Others

A trademark refers to a name, word, symbol or device used in trading products to indicate their source and to distinguish them from others. A servicemark is similar to a trademark but it’s used to distinguish the origin or source of a service, not a product. In most cases, a servicemark can also be called a trademark for convenience purposes.


Trademark rights can be used in preventing other individuals and organizations from the use of confusingly similar-looking or similar-sounding marks. But these aren’t intended to prevent others from manufacturing, selling and offering to sell the same products and/or services. For example, McDonald’s has a trademark so it has exclusive use to the brand and its related images but it doesn’t have the right to prevent KFC, Wendy’s and Five Guys to sell burgers, fries and shakes.


Copyrights Are for Original Works of Authorship

Copyrights are granted to authors or creators of “original works of authorship” that include but aren’t limited to literary, intellectual, musical, dramatic, and artistic works, both unpublished and published. Under the 1976 Copyright Act, the copyright owner has the exclusive right to his or her work, which can include reproduction of the copyrighted work, distribution of its copies, performance of the work in a public venue, preparation of derivative works, and display of the work publicly.


Which IP protection is right for you?

For details of the patent application or trademark registration, please contact us for free consultation.



CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent and

Trademark Application & Related Services