get informed about patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other IP.

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IP Guide for Startups

Important information about patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and intellectual property agreements specific to startup and early stage businesses.

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Patent Basics

A collection of resources on the fundamentals of U.S. patents and patent law.


  • What Are the Origins of Modern Patent Law?
    Most people are well aware that patents are available. And patents are commonly known to relate to inventions. But what are the historical origins of patents and patent law? And, specifically, when did modern forms of patent laws emerge? The following is a short historical overview of how, and where, […]
  • What Are Common Issues Around Software Patenting?
    Patenting inventions based around software, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the like presents a number of challenges. Of course, these types of inventions must be novel and non-obvious over what was already known (the “prior art”) to be patentable. That is no different for software patenting than for any […]
  • What Patent Application Extensions of Time Are Available?
    For U.S. patent applications, official communications from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) may require a response by a particular deadline. Failing to respond will result in the application being abandoned. If more time is needed to respond, extensions of time may be available, with the payment of official […]
  • What Are the Costs to Obtain a Patent?
    The total costs to obtain a patent and to maintain it vary. This is true because patenting costs in different jurisdictions vary but is also due to each patent by its very nature being directed to a unique invention. There is always a speculative aspect to patenting that means there […]
  • Willful Patent Infringement: Lingering Questions
    A version of this article previously appeared in Landslide magazine (Vol. 14, Issue 4, June/July 2022), published by the ABA Intellectual Property Law Section. Introduction What are the minimum requirements to establish enhanced damages for patent infringement after the passage of the America Invents Act (AIA) and the U.S. Supreme […]
  • What Is an Election Requirement?
    Election of species requirements are part of U.S. patent restriction practice. Examiners often caption these matters an “election/restriction” or the like. Election requirements deal with how genus and species inventions are disclosed and claimed. This differs from regular restriction practice, which requires an applicant to elect one group of claims […]
  • How Should I Respond to a Restriction Requirement?
    Introduction Patent examiners may issue a restriction requirement against a pending patent application. Restriction is permitted under U.S. patent law if two or more independent and distinct inventions are claimed in one patent application. Knowing how to respond to a restriction requirement, and what types of responses are possible, first […]
  • What Is a Restriction Requirement?
    The Basics of a Restriction Requirement Patent examiners may issue a restriction requirement against a pending patent application. If two or more independent and distinct inventions are claimed in one patent application, the USPTO may require the application to be restricted to one of the inventions. A conventional restriction requirement […]
  • What Should I Do If Another Business is Infringing My IP?
    An appropriate response to infringement (or misappropriation) will depend on which type(s) of intellectual property (IP) rights are involved.  While some forms of infringement can be enforced by the government, prosecutors rarely take up disputes between competitor businesses. This leaves it up to the IP owner to pursue a civil […]
  • What Should I Do to Avoid Infringing Anyone Else’s IP When Releasing a New Product?
    Here is a common scenario. Your business is planning to release a new product but wants to avoid infringing anyone else’s IP. What should you do? To avoid infringing anyone else’s IP, you should consider proactive clearance or freedom-to-operate (FTO) efforts, ideally before the new product is commercially launched.  Such […]
  • How Can My Business Acquire and Own IP Rights?
    Some intellectual property (IP) rights arise automatically under certain circumstances while others require affirmative action.  PRACTICAL TIP: Think about IP early to avoid waiving potential rights and consider the benefits of optional protections. Copyrights Copyright attaches automatically to the author when a new creative work (e.g., text, photo, etc.) is […]
  • How Do I Protect My Business’ Name and Logo?
    Trademark law can protect a brand name (in words), graphical logo, or the like—a “mark”—used to identify the source of goods or services.  But not all marks are protectable.  It is not unusual for a first-choice mark (and second-choice…) to be already taken or simply not be protectable. The following […]
  • What is the Process to Register a Trademark?
    The process to register a trademark (or service mark) involves submitting an application, which is then substantively examined and a registration is ultimately either issued or refused.  Post-registration action is required to maintain a registration, which can potentially last indefinitely provided that the registered mark is still in use.  Both […]

Have an invention you would like to patent? Have a brand you would like to register as a trademark? Concerned about infringing someone else’s intellectual property? Is someone else infringing your IP? Need representation in an IP dispute? Austen is a patent attorney / trademark attorney who can help. These and other IP issues are his area of expertise. Contact Austen today to discuss.