QUESTION: How can we prevent manufacturer from making/selling our product behind our back while we have Provisional patent?
I am about to reach out to a couple of manufacturers to make my product to sell, but I am unsure about their ethical conduct. And if I reach out to them before I have a Provisional patent issued, can they steal the idea?

ANSWER: It might be best to first file a provisional application before disclosing the invention to the manufacturer. But even if you do, the manufacturer can still steal the idea and you would not be able to sue for patent infringement with a provisional application. You would need an issued patent to sue for infringement



QUESTION: How do you conduct a common law (not USPTO) search for tagline that want to trademark?
Hi there – I work at a Financial Services company and have been asked by to research what’s involved with trademarking a tagline. I already know that in order to qualify for trademark status, the tagline needs to be inherently distinctive, or creative, or have developed enough secondary meaning to call the name of my company to mind. Also, I know that prospective tagline needs to be conducted at the USPTO site. Thanks so much any help you can offer!

ANSWER: Apart for doing a Google search, you might use one of the many vendors that offer trademark searches. These searches can include common law trademarks (i.e., un-registered trademarks.



QUESTION: Idea for which a patent already exist?
I thought of an idea and worked to make it happen. When I was thinking about patenting it, I found out that it already exist. I have put a lot of hard work and money in to this idea. The technology behind it is different though. Is there anyway I can create a new patent because the technology or the way we achieve the final product is different

ANSWER: Yes, the same idea can be patented, if the same idea is achieved in a different way or different technology, if the different way/technology is not obvious.


QUESTION: Filing patent overseas?
How does a company file patents after they have invested into a company and product that the current inventor only filed for in the usa. For instance i patent a product and place that product within a company.and then choose to leave that company and sell my equity stake.Now the organizations involved within the company don’t have patents in say canada and europe what do they do then..Do they need me to continue to continue to patent as i am the obvious inventor of the product or can they patent on there own or possibly just lose patentability regardless by competitors already replicating the product. And how are national laws in trying to replicate a inventorship of a product that has clearly been invented in another country i see this as a conflict.This is like someone inventing bubble gum in the united states and its clear they invented it and now someone in europe is trying to say they can invent it and can even file in other countries.

ANSWER: You probably assigned ownership of the patents to your company. They can file for patent protection outside the US without your participation. The foreign patents can be based on the US patent – which effectively allows the same invention to be patented in different countries.



QUESTION: What is the limit of protection from a design patent?
For example, if you design an office waste basket in the shape of a bird, and have this design patented, what can your competitors do legally. Can they still make a similar waste basket if they slightly modify the design of the bird? Or would this be a violation against your patent? I appreciate your time and input. Thank you!!

ANSWER: Design infringement occurs when the allegedly infringing device is substantially the same as the design patent, when viewed by an ordinary observer. Unfortunately, the infringement test is not based on an amount of difference (e.g., slight).




QUESTION: Hi, is it possible to get a design patent on something like ???a multivitamin in the form of a brownie????
Is it possible, to get a design patent for something described as ???a multivitamin in the form of a brownie???? Or would you have to be much more specific? Also I assume you couldn???t get a utility patent on this product since I would imagine anyone would be free to add supplement ingredients to a brownie. Can you answer these questions for me? Thanks!

ANSWER: A design patent covers the overall shape of something. If your vitamin is in the shape of a brownie, a design patent might be possible. But it sounds like you are putting vitamins in a brownie, which would then be in the realm of a utility patent, which would seem difficult to obtain in your situation.



QUESTION: How can I clear up an Assignment of Invention contract with a future employer?
I am currently reviewing a Non-Disclosure & Developments agreement that says: ” . . . [any Developments made during the Employment Period] that (i) relates to the business of the Company or any of the products or services being developed, manufactured or sold by the Company or which may be used in relation therewith, . . .” I would like to make this statement less vague so that any research or development that I make on my own time is not immediately forfeited to the company. My initial thought was to alter the statement to: ” . . . [any Developments made during the Employment Period] that (i) DIRECTLY relates to the business of the Company AND any of the products or services being developed, manufactured or sold by the Company or which may be used in relation therewith, . . .” but I’m not sure if this is concrete enough. The rest of the contract looks fine to me, but this was the only vague statement that I take issue with. I am not hoping to alter the statement so that I can steal any IP or developments that would reasonably belong to the company, but I would like to maintain a claim to any IP that I develop on my own time, with my own property.

ANSWER: The difficulty with either language relates tot he word “relates”. That is always subject to interpretation. If you really think you will be inventing a product – even on your own time – that might “relate” to your employer’s business, you might want to consider declining employment. Otherwise, you would likely be obligated to assign it to your employer – under your language and your employer’s language.



QUESTION: Can filing a provisional patent application hurt?
Beyond the filing fee and time spent drafting a provisional patent app, are there any reasons not to file a provisional app? More accurately, could filing a poorly drafted provisional be worse off that not filing one at all? If it’s later determined that the provisional was inadequate, a non-provisional can still be filed that doesn’t claim benefit from the provisional, so long as the non-provisional was filed within 1 year of public disclosure, right? Also, a hypothetical situation: Let’s say I filed a provisional containing subject material A, then immediately went public with the invention; 6 months later, during product testing I discover new material for the invention, let’s call it B. If I file a provisional containing A+B (as soon as B is discovered), when is the non-provisional claiming A+B due? 1 year from provisional A or 1 year from provisional A+B?

ANSWER: Generally, filing a provisional is better than not filing anything – even if the provisional lacks information. In the above example, you could file a non-provisional within one year of filing provisional A, in additional to within one year of provisional A+B.



QUESTION: Can I buy a patented product add something to it and resell it ?
So a company has patented an item and I want to add an accessory to it to make it fancier can I buy it from them and add my touch and re sell it and also make it into my own business adding and reselling that product

ANSWER: If the terms of the sale do not include a restriction on resale, then you may alter the patented product for resale free of restriction from the patent.