Intellectual Property and the Pandemic
Written by Lawrence A. Maxham
As a small business, The Maxham Firm understands the tough decisions you have had to make to keep your business going through the Covid-19 pandemic. We also understand that some businesses are reducing their patent portfolios to save money as their operations are restricted or reduced. However, though it may seem counter-intuitive, now is a great time to invest in your IP. While patents, trademarks, and copyrights are all IP, we will primarily address the patent aspects below.
Evaluating Your IP
It is good practice to get rid of the maintenance costs of patents that have minimal or no current or future value but be careful in your culling because you should always try to maintain any asset that enhances your brands’ goodwill. Since patents are long term assets (in general, 20 years after a patent application is filed) any one patent may well be very valuable in a few years, even if not currently, and should be treated as such. Patents should not be discarded by recommendations from only the accounting department trying to look for budget trimmings as they are wont to do, especially during such difficult times as these. The corporate technical people and the patent attorneys should be included in such important decisions to make sure that any termination of IP is not done merely for budgetary reasons.
When evaluating your IP assets consider that if your business is a leader in at least some aspects of its field of operations, keeping your IP or investing in your IP may provide a competitive advantage. It is just possible that proper IP protection will give your business a kick start as the world recovers from the pandemic.
It might not be immediately apparent how patents are related to the current situation, but without a strong patent system dealing with this pandemic, in our personal and professional lives, would be made even more difficult. The United States patent system is a key driver for American innovation, which has led the world in innovation for the last two centuries, and without which we could not have smartphones, Zoom, the incredible Internet, or any other technology we use every day to make our lives more manageable, or more livable, when we are forced to sit and stay inside and conduct business in socially distanced and innovative ways.
Copyrights and The Pandemic
To stray for a moment from the focus on the patent system, I’d like to touch on how the copyright system has benefited our lives in and out of this pandemic. It is our copyright system that protects and encourages creators to provide us with the digital streaming that has become a large part of our lives. This includes digitally delivered movies, TV, and music which, themselves, are only possible and available because creators and performers are encouraged to pursue their crafts because they are protected by the strong US copyright system.
Incidentally, both the patent system and the copyright system are mandated by the United States Constitution. It is this combination of strong IP protections and the Constitution that gives America its innovative edge and resilient business spirit that will get us through this pandemic.
Even during the pandemic, new businesses are being created and launched. Covid-19 cannot suppress good ideas and creativity; in fact; it may even inspire some to pursue their businesses and creative dreams. Hard times are known for inspiring songs, poems, books, and other art. People want to write or express themselves in media which can be protected by copyright law. In a related way, inventors, scientists, and researchers generally know that patents are the effective way to provide protection and that requires that those great ideas be put on paper and filed immediately to make sure they are the first-to-file. You can read more about the American Invents Act (AIA) first-to-file in our article here.
Patents and Getting Through the Pandemic
In addition to the basic function of defining for the world how a new concept or invention works, patents can prevent good ideas from being stolen. They can provide income from licensing or even sale of an invention covered by the patent. They are assets of an ongoing enterprise. They encourage the investment community to support a business, and they provide recognition of the good work of employees, among other benefits of owning and protecting IP.
Back to the Covid-19 pandemic, the United States Patent and Trademark office (USPTO) has launched a Covid-19 response resource center to improve access to USPTO initiatives, programs, and other helpful IP related information click here to access this USPTO center.
Protect your IP
Do you have more questions about filing during these difficult times? Call us at 760-975-3843 or e-mail us today and we’ll be happy to set up a consultation with you to discuss your next steps. You might also like to check out our article “Why Should A Person Apply For A Patent? Let Me Count The Reasons!” to understand how your IP is one of your strongest business assets.
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