The United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) announced a new Intellectual Property Identifier. This easy-to-use online tool aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship among IP creators and owners by providing information on patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. Those starting a business, inventors, authors, and entrepreneurs who have not consulted an intellectual property lawyer can better understand the differences among types of intellectual property by using this tool.
How the tool works
The website landing page starts with a short introduction. It then takes the user through six screens with short questions and examples that prompt them to answer yes or no. The six questions cover a different area of IP:
- Copyrights: Original works of authorship.
- Design patents: Original or ornamental designs that are manufactured.
- Trademarks: Goods or services that distinguish owners from competitors.
- Utility patents: These involve inventions that are new products, processes, articles of manufacture or composition of matter, either new or significantly improved.
- Trade secrets: These involve confidential business information (client list, prices, etc.) that gives holders a competitive edge.
- Plant patents: This is a unique area of patent law tied to distinct varieties asexually reproduced.
After reviewing the results from the six questions, the user can continue with the tool’s advanced identifier. Grouped by the six initial groups, these advanced prompts have an additional 5-10 questions. There are multiple answers that the user selects from that best explains their circumstances.
The next step
Once users have availed themselves of this tool, they are better equipped to understand the intellectual property rights they have or are developing, and they may be able to begin the process of submitting formal applications, where applicable, to register or seek formal documented protection for those rights. This step is often where an experienced IP attorney provides an array of valuable services.