It was seen that the works of founders of States, law-givers, tyrant-destroyers, and heroes cover
but narrow spaces and endure but for a time; while the work of the inventor, though of less pomp,
is felt everywhere and lasts forever.          - Francis Bacon Preface to a Treatise on Interpreting Nature

The Design of Everyday Things

Every inventor should take this free online course. Learn the basics of design and start observing and applying design principles.

How to Design Breakthrough Inventions

A CBS interview of IDEO founder David Kelley

How to Build a StartUp

In this free online course, learn the key tools and steps for building a successful startup (or at least reducing the risk of failure).

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 2009

Inventors are so creative, and so important to our economy and way of life, that our government offers them four main ways to protect their new ideas. Attorneys Dr. C. John Brannon and Mr. Tony A. Gibbens of Brannon & Associates PC explained these forms of protection and offered practical advice on how to use them. 1. Three kinds of patents protect technology (an idea of a physical means to a useful end). A utility patent (for a machine, manufactured article, method, composition of matter, or an improvement of one of these) or a plant patent (for an asexually reproduced plant) protects technology itself. A design patent protects the nonfunctional ornamental appearance of a useful thing. A patent owner has the right to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing the invention in the United States. But a patent does not give the owner the right to perform those acts (some patents interfere with other patents). Our government grants a patent to an applicant who is the first and original inventor of a technology. So be sure to document the date your idea is well-defined and complete. A good way to do this is to enter a written description of your inventive activities (ideas, test results, date a prototype is built, etc.) in a bound notebook that you and a noninventor witness (who understands what you write) date and sign regularly. 2. A trademark (brand name) protects a sign (hologram, name, picture, smell, sound, symbol, word, etc.) indicating the origin of a product. It must be distinctive and not deceptive. A trademark is an adjective, not a noun. You can lose a trademark if it becomes a noun (ex. if people think Band-Aid means “bandage” rather than “a brand of bandage”). 3. A copyright protects an expression of an idea, not the idea itself. Such expressions can be artistic (ex. music, painting, photograph, sculpture) or literary (ex. book, computer program, electronic database). The good news is that you merit copyright protection just by expressing an idea (but you need to register your expression with the Copyright Office in order to seek damages in a federal court). The bad news is that someone you hire (ad writer, marketer, photographer, web page designer, etc.) to express an idea for you owns the copyright to that expression. So get a written assignment of copyright ownership before an expression is created. 4. A trade secret (governed by state law) protects a commercially valuable idea you work to keep secret (ex. mark secret documents “confidential” and restrict access to those documents). A trade secret effectively protects recipes (ex. Coca Cola) which are hard to reverse-engineer, and technical expertise needed to use an invention (especially an unpatentable invention) effectively. Use your intellectual property most effectively by integrating it into your long-term business strategy. For example, barrier to market entry (i.e. intellectual property) is one force that shapes your business environment (“Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors” by Michael E. Porter). Thank you John and Tony for your very helpful presentation!

Patent Drawings by Richard McVicker

Some inventions patented by our members:

Bob Brand
3,179,907 Tuning system for television receivers
3,219,933 Television tuner switching system
3,241,072 Tuning control system
3,538,466 Television tuner cast housing with integrally cast transmission lines
4,503,740 Optical cutting edge locator for a cutting apparatus
4,503,896 Dog system for veneer slicer
4,601,317 Veneer slicing system
5,511,598 Veneer-slicer with remotely controllable blade angle adjustment
5,562,137 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,590,700 Vacuum flitch table with self-cleaning vacuum valve
5,678,619 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer from a tapered flitch
5,680,887 Veneer slicer with timing belt
5,694,995 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,701,938 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,819,828 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,868,187 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,395,843 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,552,750 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer sheets from a flitch

Rick Hanson
6,240,579 Unitary pedal control of brake and fifth wheel deployment via side and end articulation with additional unitary pedal control of height of patient support
6,253,397 Deployable siderails for a wheeled carriage
6,256,812 Wheeled carriage having auxiliary wheel spaced from center of gravity of wheeled base and cam apparatus controlling deployment of auxiliary wheel and deployable side rails for the wheeled carriage
6,264,006 Brake for castered wheels
6,507,964 Surgical table
D474,446 Sterilizable battery component

Bob Humbert
4,281,368 Keyhole illuminating apparatus

Ron Jackson
4,886,110 HVAC zone control system
4,943,039 Adjustable clamp
4,987,409 Level sensor and alarm
5,132,669 Level sensor with alarm
5,381,989 Adjustable spring clamp
5,944,098 Zone control for HVAC system
6,145,752 Temperature monitoring and control system
6,322,443 Duct supported booster fan
D347,596 Audible security alarm
D376,747 Door security device

Jerry McQuinn
D689,343 Universal Nutcracker

Richard McVicker
3,261,937 Three position snap switch utilizing interference blade means
3,319,477 Timer Escapement
3,332,704 Manually propelled treadmill vehicle
4,625,616 Thumb pick
6,309,076 Light barrier, screen or reflector
D240,237 Sculpture or the like
D356,653 Yard light
8389839 Thumb pick

Bill Pangburn
5,943,831 Device for Hauling Objects

Al Robbins

3,882,960 Ride quality control for surface effects craft
3,946,689 Air dynamo pressure regulation and modulation device for surface effect ships and air cushion vehicles
6,588,702 Lighter-than-air device having a flexible usable surface

Matt Thie
4,844,446 Multiple-compartment currency stacker-sorter
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
7,298,280 Lighted fluid flow indication apparatus
7,617,826 Conserver

Richard Tucker
5,833,751 Powder coating booth having smooth internal surfaces
6,840,367 Material handling and manufacturing system and method
6,976,835 Manufacturing system and process
7,018,579 Manufacturing system and process

Don Walls
D707090 Torque key lever
RE36209 Door lock apparatus

Dave Zedonis
5,637,926 Battery powered electronic assembly for wheel attachment

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