You can’t patent an idea, and other lessons from the First Annual Patent Bootcamp at the University of Arkansas School of Law

You can’t patent an idea, and other lessons from the First Annual Patent Bootcamp at the University of Arkansas School of Law

Last week, I was honored to give the keynote at the First Annual Patent Bootcamp for Women and Minorities in STEM at the University of Arkansas.

The day was quite full, with experts from around the region and country providing insights to a full room about how women/people of color can acquire greater access to the patent system.

https://twitter.com/UARKLaw/status/1172619042219315204?s=20https://twitter.com/UARKLaw/status/1172619042219315204?s=20In the spirit of that conversation, I wanted to share some lessons from the bootcamp for current-and-future inventors who weren’t there.

One of the things that struck me throughout the day was how many inventors had the fundamental questions about inventing and patenting. Many questions were about the basics of when/where/how you even know that you have something worth patenting in the first place. And, people really wanted to know what they could actually patent and what wouldn’t make it through the patent office.

Before you can really be prepared for the complicated world of patents, its important to understand the basic realities of what you’re getting into!

Here are three realities for innovators just starting down the path of brainstorming, ideating, inventing, and patenting: #1: you need more than just “an idea,” #2: you need help; and #3 you may or may not get rich.

#1: You need more than just “an idea”

Lots of folks have ideas about how to solve problems, but ideas aren’t patentable by themselves. This is just the starting point. What is patentable is an invention. An invention is what happens after you find a problem, come up with an idea to solve that problem, and literally articulate the steps in the process that allow your idea to solve that problem.

For example, if you hear lots of stories in the news about kids being left in hot cars, you might have an idea for a device that reminds adults that there’s a child in the backseat before they get out, lock the door, and go into work. This is an incredible and valuable idea, but it isn’t patentable until you do the work of identifying the steps necessary to create that device, and perhaps make some drawings or a prototype. The latter is the actual invention.

So, your first step is to clearly determine all of the steps that get your problem-solving-concept from idea to actual invention. This can take days, weeks, months or years, depending on what you’re considering.

For more on what is patentable, you can check out my other articles here, including “What Can You Patent?” and “How to Protect Your Invention.”

 #2. You need help

The patent system in the United States is complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. For these reasons, and others, many people work with patent lawyers who are experienced and competent. These lawyers do not come cheap. The Patent Bootcamp in Arkansas featured many professionals, lawyers and inventors alike, who reiterated the importance of competent counsel through the patent process.

Here are some suggestions that can help you get the right kind of help, at the right price point, for your invention and goals.

* If you absolutely have to do this on your own, without a patent lawyer, check out the NOLO Patent It Yourself book. It is one of the best I’ve seen. Sometimes you can find an edition in the library.

*Speaking of libraries, there are a number of Patent and Trademark Resource Centers around the U.S. that can help you through the federal government’s patent and trademark processes.

* If you want to try working with a lawyer and/or law students acting under a lawyer’s direction, but have very limited resources, read this article I wrote: For Women: On Being an Inventor and Finding a Patent Lawyer (it’s good for the fellas/non-binary/genderqueer folks too!). It is full of low-cost resources, including the Law School Clinic Certification Program (students and lawyers draft applications for low/no money, besides filing fees) and the Patent Pro Bono Project.

* If you can afford it, hire someone. An average patent application costs between $7,000-$10,000, and the application is just the first step in what will likely be a multi-year process with even more fees, so you want to choose right. My For Women: On Being an Inventor and Finding a Patent Lawyer article gives some suggestions on how to find a patent lawyer. The Patent and Trademark Resource Centers can also help you find a lawyer.

#3 You may or may not get rich

Many inventors assume that getting the patent is the pièce de résistance and the key to unlocking millions and millions of dollars. This may happen for you, and I hope it does. One need only look to Sara Blakely’s story of patenting and building what has become known as Spanx for confirmation that it is indeed possible.

Monetizing a patented invention is not for the faint at heart. Once you get that patent in hand, manna does not automatically flow from heaven. You’ll either have to make and sell the invention yourself or find others to make and sell your invention.

Re. making/selling your invention, if you don’t already have the money, you’ll have to seek funding from a bank, family and friends, or investors. Women can have it tough when it comes to fundraising, but, obviously, all things are possible. One woman, Arlan Hamilton, has founded Backstage Capital to invest in underrepresented founders, including women, POC, and folks in the LGTBQIA+ community.

Re. finding others to make and sell your invention, a common way to do this is via licensing, where you and a third party create a contract where you give the third party permission to make and/or sell the invention in exchange for some kind of payment(s). As has been written about elsewhere, licensing is HARD. However, don’t be discouraged, just be realistic.

These three realities popped up many times during the Patent Bootcamp in Arkansas. Hopefully they help you on your journey!

What other realities have you experienced as an inventor? Drop a line in the comments and let me know what your experience was like!

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Inventing stuff is fun, and from my perspective, working with inventors is just as great. The practice of intellectual property law has been my favorite over the years because the clients are typically happy. Usually no one is fighting over anything in court, inventors are stoked to see their brainchild come to life, and everyone is excited about the impact this new innovation will have on the world.

All of this excitement can come to a bit of a halt when it comes time to get lawyers and the government involved.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the government agency tasked with issuing patents in the United States, and getting through the entire process requires time (usually multiple years), money (a lot of it), and patience (as in, have the patience of Job).

Lawyers are hard to choose, and it can take months or longer to draft a patent application. Then, after your patent application is filed, the USPTO’s process (called patent “prosecution”) takes about 1-2 years, or more, to get through. THEN, there are staggered fees you have to pay for the next 20-ish years after finishing prosecution.

This makes picking a lawyer pretty important–you’ll be stuck with them for a while.

🔈🔈Warning🔈🔈: I try not to be a doom and gloom type of messenger, but the reality is that finding a good patent attorney or agent for your invention is tough. It can be even tougher if you’re a woman.

SHORT EXPLAINER: To represent an inventor at the USPTO, a patent agent or patent attorney must take and pass a special exam and have certain qualifications.

Patent agents are people with science/engineering/technical degrees but no law degree. Patent attorneys have both a science/engineering/technical degree plus a law degree.

Both patent agents and patent attorneys can represent patent applicants in the USPTO. The USPTO keeps comprehensive records of this group because of the special exam all parties have to take.

Even once you find a good patent attorney or agent (woman or man), women inventors have a significantly harder time getting patents issued through the patent office. In fact, only 4% of patents issued by the USPTO in the last ten years have women-only inventors (the numbers go up a little bit if a man is also named as an inventor).

And, if you’re looking for a female patent attorney, only about 25% of all registered patent attorneys and agents are women, so you may have to dig deep to find us (and let’s not get started on intersectionality).

If you need more proof on these challenges, check out the below talk by Sara Blakely, the now-billionaire founder of Spanx. Sara recounts her experience trying to first find a woman patent attorney, and then any patent attorney, who could help her get her first Spanx patent.

She couldn’t find a woman patent attorney because at the time there were literally none in her state. All of the men thought her invention was terrible. And, when she did find some firms to interview about helping her patent her invention, they wanted basically her entire life savings to get the application filed.

Because of these harsh facts, it is sooooo important that you hire a lawyer you trust and clearly understand.

I hope this article helps you, my inventor sistren, make good, grounded decisions when you’re searching for a patent lawyer.

There’s no way I can cover everything here, but here are four major considerations if you’re searching for a patent lawyer.

1. Avoid being scammed
2. Explore legitimate low-cost options
3. If you can afford it, hire someone
4. Educate yourself about the process

On to the details:

1. Avoid being scammed

There are a number of “invention marketer” or “invention promoter” companies out there who may take your money and leave you with little to show for it. The USPTO has published complaints against companies including Davison Design, Invent Company, Invent Help, Harvey Reese Associates, and World Patent Marketing.

Here are the USPTO warning signs to look for if you get wrangled into a call/discussion that seems sketchy:

From the USPTO

For more, check out the below articles on this topic:

Please, please don’t get scammed–not only could you lose thousands upon thousands of dollars, you could also lose the rights in your invention completely.

2. Explore legitimate, low-cost options

The baseline fact is that obtaining a patent is EXPENSIVE. You can expect to spend between $8,000 and $10,000 for a quality utility patent application (the most common type). This will probably not include the cost of what is called the “prosecution” phase, which is a time period where your lawyer will go back and forth with the patent office on your application’s details.

Check out the diagrams below on cost estimations for patent applications–both are a little dated but still provide pretty accurate guidelines:

APPLICATION PHASE COSTS

From IP Watchdog, a very reputable patent law website


PATENT COST DIAGRAM FOR PATENT APPLICATION + PROSECUTION PHASE

From bitlaw.com, a free resource from the Tysver Beck Evans law firm


I know these numbers seem incredibly high for a lot of people. $10,000 is a lot of money–most of us don’t just have that kind of cash sitting around. And, if we do, there are many good uses for it!

Because of this, I want to share three low-cost resources with you that will help you get started if you need a little time to get your money together for a full-blown patent application.

  • You could file your patent application yourself–there’s nothing in the law to prevent an inventor from doing this. As I’ve written about elsewhere, however, this process is very complex and convoluted. I’d be very, very weary of going at it alone. If you’re going to try, the hands-down best book to guide you through the process is NOLO’s Patent It Yourself. If you watched Sara Blakely’s full remarks, you heard that she ended up buying a book and drafting most of her patent application herself. Even so, she had to hire a lawyer to help finish it and get it across the finish line.

  • The USPTO offers two low-cost/free programs to assist inventors. The first is the Law School Clinic Certification Program,which allows more senior law students to work on patent applications under the strict guidance of a licensed patent lawyer. Law schools don’t typically charge for these kinds of services. You may end up paying a few hundred dollars in USPTO filing fees, etc., but that pales in comparison to thousands of dollars in law firm fees. And, law schools may have a larger pool of diverse students/faculty to pull from if that is important to you. The list of participating law schools is ever-changing, but you can find the full USPTO list by clicking here. This is a great opportunity if you’re in the vicinity of one of the participating schools.

  • The second low-cost/free USPTO program is the Patent Pro Bono Project, which matches inventors with registered patent agents and attorneys who volunteer their time without charging the inventor. You’ll still have to pay USPTO filing fees, but that is probably a few hundred dollars. You can find out if your state/region has a program at this website. This is also a great option if you’re near a program. My personal observation is that more women volunteer for this kind of thing than men–I don’t have any data or research to back this up though.

USPTO Patent Pro Bono Coverage Map

For more, you might want to watch some of the below USPTO video–it is dry as all get out (they are known for this), but there’s some great information buried in it about low-cost/free options for inventors.



3. If you can afford it, hire someone

I know it may be uncomfortable to fork over thousands of dollars for a patent application that may or may not be approved by the patent office. You have between a 60-70% chance of being granted a patent within three years of filing an application. This is another reason to carefully choose your patent lawyer.

The only thing worse than giving someone $10,000 to file a patent application is giving someone $10,000 to file a patent application that isn’t ultimately approved by the USPTO (or, getting an application approved that isn’t worth the paper its typed on).

This is why I suggest hiring an experienced patent attorney or patent agent if you can afford it.

Keep in mind–it would be helpful in most cases to have a patent lawyer with a background similar to the technology in your invention. For example, if your invention is mechanical engineering-based, a patent lawyer with a mechanical engineering background may be desirable.

This isn’t a flat-out requirement, but it can help. In addition, you can also ask the patent lawyer what kinds of patent applications they’ve successfully prosecuted in the past to see if they have the experience with inventions like yours.

To find a patent lawyer, try the following four suggestions, in addition to your obligatory Google searching:

  1. If you know any lawyers, ask them to refer you to someone they trust. Word of mouth can often be the best way to find a trustworthy patent lawyer.
  2. Search your state’s or city’s bar association website for a lawyer directory that lists attorneys by practice. You can also search the websites of bar associations outside of your city/state, because a licensed patent attorney anywhere in the country can help you. Bar associations are professional organizations for licensed attorneys–the easiest way to find them online to do is perform a Google search using [city/state] + bar association. Some states also have special intellectual property law associations.
  3. Reach out to some of the national intellectual property law associations. While these are primarily trade associations for lawyers, these groups often have public advocacy programs. Here are three national associations you can start with:
  4. Search the USPTO’s directory of licensed patent agents and attorneys.

4. Educate Yourself

Understanding the patent application and patent prosecution phase is hard. The USPTO gives a mandatory exam on these topics to every person who wants to file and prosecute patent applications, and the pass rate hovers around 50% or so. This just goes to show you how tough it is to really understand all the nuances of patent prosecution.

If you’re planning to file a patent application, either on your own or with help, take time to read up on the general process so that you’re not surprised later. You will, at minimum, want to understand the basics of what is patentable, what the application includes, and what the process will look like once the application is filed.

NOLO publishes some of the best resources I’ve seen in terms of clear, step-by-step layperson instructions. If you can’t afford to buy all of them, head over to your local library and check them out!

There are other things I could mention here but this article has jumped waaay over TLDR status. For more, let me know where you are with this. Are you thinking of patenting an invention? Already been through the process? Drop a note in the comments section and let me hear about your experience!

Please give as much information as you can in response to these questions. I’d be happy to share more tools and resources that help you get what you want. And, I know the other folks reading this can learn from your experiences! We are all in this together.

I always say that I’m on a mission to build a nation of good people with dynamic personal brands and successful businesses. We can learn from each other on this journey, particularly when we have accountability partners. This is why I am building a whole nation of them.

Download the app

You can connect to the the private community I’ve created to provide support and encouragement along the journey–online and via app. Check us out at programs.shontavia.com or via the Mighty Networks App.

Download the Mighty Network app by clicking here. Once it downloads, click “Find a Mighty Network” and search for Shontavia Johnson. You’ll find content there that I may not share elsewhere.

Thank you so much for joining me on this roller coaster of an experience. I am eternally grateful that I get to do this work with wonderful people each day.

Let’s make it happen,

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If you decide that you want to patent your invention, make sure you’re wearing your I’ll-be-patient hat because the entire process includes a number of steps that take a lot of time and energy. From the application drafting phase, through the back and forth with the Patent Office (called “patent prosecution”), into the life of the patent, you’ll do a lot of waiting and have a lot of deadlines to pay attention to.

Secrecy is very important with inventions because inventors have to file a patent application with the Patent Office to prove ownership and priority in that invention. Today in the U.S., the first person to file an application gets priority from the Patent Office, so if someone beats you to the punch with filing, you could lose out on the ability to protect your invention altogether. For this reason, you don’t want to share anything about your invention until you’ve taken all of the necessary steps.

If you need to file something quickly and don’t have time or money to file a full blown utility patent application, a provisional patent application could serve your purpose, though that only holds your place in line, and your priority date, for one year.

If all else fails and you need to tell people about the invention before an application is filed, you should have those parties sign a Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement. These types of agreements make people promise not to talk about your invention except under whatever restrictions you set. If they break the promise, you could have them on the hook for breach of contract.

Once you’re ready to file the patent application, you and/or your lawyer will need lots of information to give the patent office. Whether you try to go at it alone, or you hire a patent attorney or agent, you still will be intimately involved in the process.

A patent application has several parts, which a lawyer can draft with your input. These parts include:

  • A title;
  • An abstract;
  • A background summary of the field your invention stems from;
  • A summary of the invention;
  • Drawings (optional, and will probably require a professional patent illustrator);
  • A description of any drawings, if you have any; and
  • Claims.

It can be expensive, in terms of time and money, to obtain a good, quality patent application. The below data from 2015 is a good gauge for what you’ll pay a patent lawyer, though these numbers have probably gone up some since then.

From IP Watchdog

Once you’ve filed a patent application with the Patent Office, that is only the first step in the process.

Your application will be assigned to a person called a Patent Examiner. This person will have a background in the field of your invention, and their job is to read your application to determine whether you meet all of the patent requirements.

In many cases, they will either reject certain parts of your application or ask for further clarification through a letter called an Office Action. While it can be pretty scary to get one of these Office Actions, they are common and do not ruin your changes of getting a patent.

After a few rounds of this, you may need to make changes to your application to get the Examiner to approve it. You may also need to appeal some of the Examiner’s decisions. This process can take anywhere from six months to three years, on average.

And the end of it all, if you’re successful you’ll get a Notice of Allowance from the Patent Office. This means you’ve done everything you need to do and your patent has received all approvals. This will be the final step in what is likely going to be a long and involved process. All that’ll be left is for you to pay the required fees and correct any drawings that might need to be corrected after the back and forth with the Examiner.

If you hire a lawyer, find out up front if their attorney’s fees include any Office Action responses and how you’ll be billed for that. These things can add up pretty quickly, especially if the lawyer is charging by the hour, which is common.

The patent process can be daunting, and frankly, it is becoming so expensive that many new entrepreneurs and startups have trouble affording it. If you’re committed to your invention, you’ll have to be in it for the long haul.

It could very well be worth it in the end.

Have you gone through the patent application process? If so, please share your tips for surviving the process in the comments!

Please give as much information as you can in response to this question. I’d be happy to share more tools and resources that help you get what you want. And, I know the other folks reading this can learn from your experiences! We are all in this together.

I always say that I’m on a mission to build a nation of good people with dynamic personal brands and successful businesses. We can learn from each other on this journey, particularly when we have accountability partners. This is why I am building a whole nation of them.

Download the app

You can connect to the the private community I’ve created to provide support and encouragement along the journey–online and via app. Check us out at programs.shontavia.com or via the Mighty Networks App.

Download the Mighty Network app by clicking here. Once it downloads, click “Find a Mighty Network” and search for Shontavia Johnson. You’ll find content there that I may not share elsewhere.

Thank you so much for joining me on this roller coaster of an experience. I am eternally grateful that I get to do this work with wonderful people each day.

Let’s make it happen,

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NEW STUFF AND IMPROVEMENTS ON OLD STUFF.

I love inventions and innovation. Like, LOVE love. So much so that I actually own a set of inventor trading cards (I know, nerd much?). One of the reasons I settled on intellectual property law after law school was because of my affinity for innovation, ideas and tinkering. When I was a kid I’d take everything apart in my parents’ house just to see how things looked and worked. I got my engineering degree before law school, so intellectual property law just fit.

When I practiced patent law, one of the things I enjoyed most was hearing passionate inventors talk about what they had created. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen often enough to keep me in the practice. Today, I get to hear about inventions and innovation almost every day and it gives. me. life.

I mean, how could you not get excited about the spiderbike???

When inventors invent a new thing, one of the most common ways to protect that thing is via patent law. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has issued more than 10 million patents as of the time of this writing. Patents can be very useful pieces of property for entrepreneurs and businesses to own, particularly for startup companies looking for funding from angels, venture capital groups, and elsewhere. It is understandable that folks want to pursue them.

Even with such an emphasis in the startup/innovation world on patents, we do not make it easy to get them in the U.S. There are a number of reasons for this, which I’ll explore multiple times in future articles. For now, let’s start with the basics!

Patent law is a really complicated (and expensive) area of the law. Unfortunately, people with underrepresented backgrounds, including women and black people, have historically been left out of the patent system, though this is changing.

In this article, I’ll walk through the most BASIC of basic patent principles. This is one place where most folks need to work with a professional in some capacity. I’ll do a post later on how to choose the right patent lawyer or patent agent, because that choice in and of itself can make or break you (and your bank account).

Unlike copyrights and trademarks, to get patent protection you must file an application with the USPTO. Filing these applications has been deemed special enough to require lawyers and engineers to take a separate, difficult test just to have permission to file them (historically, only about 50% of the people who take the test pass).

Under the law, you can file these applications on your own, but you’ll need a very, very good handle on the law and rules to do so effectively. For example, there was an entire lawsuit over the interpretation of the word “or” in a 42 page patent. Patent applications and the resulting issued patents can be assessed with a fine-toothed comb, so you want to be meticulous with whatever you do.

To get your patent application approved by the USPTO, your invention must be new, useful, not obvious, and fall within a specific legal category.

Your invention must be new.

An invention is “new” if it hasn’t been disclosed publicly. The law and rules on this are very, very complex. Some basic guidelines state that an invention isn’t new if the public knew about it before the application was filed or if the invention appeared in writing before the application was filed.

Your invention must be useful.

This requirement is commonly referred to as “utility.” The interpretation is complicated, but, generally, an invention has to be capable of being used for some purpose and it must have some identifiable benefit. The bar for utility is pretty low, and most patent applications explicitly state what the usefulness/utility of the invention is.

Your invention must not be obvious.

The patent office’s approach is to ask what people familiar with this invention’s general area would think–these people are called persons “of ordinary skill in the art”. If the invention would be obvious to an ordinary person who works with the invention’s field, the invention isn’t patentable.

Your invention must be “patentable subject matter.”

Fourth, the invention has to fall within one of the categories outlined in the law. These categories are:

  • processes,
  • machines,
  • articles of manufacture, and
  • compositions of matter.

You can also get a patent for an improvement on something falling within one of these categories. Even though the words are a bit complex, all kinds of things can be patentable, and they don’t have to be high tech or highbrow.

This patent for “leaf gathering trousers” is one of my personal faves.

Laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable, though this is another very complicated topic. There are literal books about the patentability of “abstract ideas” (which includes software), so tread lightly.

Congratulations–you now know juuuuuust enough to be dangerous. As I stated at the outset, your best bet is to work with a licensed patent agent or patent attorney if you think you have something patent-worthy.

Have you invented something and received a patent? Thinking about trying to get a patent? Shoot us a comment and let us know about it!

Please give as much information as you can in response to these questions. I’d be happy to share more tools and resources that help you get what you want. And, I know the other folks reading this can learn from your experiences! We are all in this together.

I always say that I’m on a mission to build a nation of good people with dynamic personal brands and successful businesses. We can learn from each other on this journey, particularly when we have accountability partners. This is why I am building a whole nation of them.

Download the app

You can connect to the the private community I’ve created to provide support and encouragement along the journey–online and via app. Check us out at programs.shontavia.com or via the Mighty Networks App.

Download the Mighty Network app by clicking here. Once it downloads, click “Find a Mighty Network” and search for Shontavia Johnson. You’ll find content there that I may not share elsewhere.

Thank you so much for joining me on this roller coaster of an experience. I am eternally grateful that I get to do this work with wonderful people each day.

Let’s make it happen,

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I love creatives and creators. They are constantly pushing boundaries, developing things the world has never seen, and sharing their talents with the rest of us. Some are so committed to sharing their work with the world via social media and other platforms that they don’t stop to assess the value of their work or how to immediately monetize it.

The most overlooked asset for a lot of creators and entrepreneurs is intellectual property.

Intellectual property is basically the stuff you’ve created using your brain. Your list of customers, the things you’ve posted on social media, the catchy slogan, logo or jingle you made….all of this is the way you’re setting yourself, your brand, and your company apart in the marketplace.

Maybe its the customer service script you read when you talk to customers or the text of your landing page online. Perhaps its the really awesome book you wrote that is selling thousands of copies on Amazon.com. It could be fabulous jewelry you’re making for men and women to wear. These things are why your customers love you and why you’ll make more money than your competition.

While no one wants to get unnecessarily bogged down and delayed with red tape, forms, and high legal fees, it is definitely worth your time to develop a strategy for your work’s intellectual property and monetary value (especially if, like me, you have to be compensated to eat, live, and survive).

I can’t state enough the importance of owning your intellectual property. It is so important that Oprah Winfrey has attributed much of her success to owning her own intellectual property (through owning her own show when she first got started). Jeff Jacobs, the president of Harpo, Inc. (Oprah’s company) has stated that Harpo is ultimately an “intellectual property company.” Do you see where I’m going with this?

Surprisingly, though, a lot of people never take the steps to ensure that another person or company can’t swoop in to take credit for and monetize their work. The goal of this post is to help you identify the intellectual property in your own company so you can take the critical steps to protect yourself and your business.

Re. intellectual property, the most common types are copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets:

Copyright law protects tangible, original works including things like art, poetry, books, movies, songs, videos, computer software, and architecture. Some components of a company’s website might also be included.

Trademark law protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs that you use in the marketplace to distinguish your products and services from your competitors. This might be a logo, word or words, or even a color, scent or sound. Think Nike’s symbol or the word “Apple” for computer products.

Patent law protects inventions that are new and useful. The invention must also not be obvious to others in the field.

Trade secret law encompasses confidential or classified information including formulas, practices, processes, designs, instruments, patterns or compilations of information that give your business an economic advantage over competitors. Think KFC’s fried chicken recipe or Coca-Cola’s formula for coke.

Used right, these areas of law can help you add tons of value (financial and otherwise) to your business. They can also protect you and your business. Think of it this way — if you’d be pissed that a competitor started using something you created, you probably want to protect it. Protecting your intellectual property could save you a lot of time, headaches and money as your business grows.

Not all types of intellectual property are important for every person or business, but most people are surprised at how much intellectual property their business actually has and how valuable it is.

So how do you know what is relevant for your business? The answer to this question really depends on your circumstances and the type of business you are building. A simple place to start is by asking the following questions:

  1. What types of original things have I created and written down on paper?
  2. How do I connect with my customers and how do I distinguish myself from my competitors (via logos, songs, words, slogans, etc.)?
  3. Have I invented anything new and useful that I haven’t seen in the marketplace? Keep in mind here, however, that just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
  4. Are there secret things that give me a competitive advantage with my customers?

Please give as much information as you can in response to these questions! I’d be happy to share more tools and resources that help you get what you want. And, I know the other folks reading this can learn from your experiences! We are all in this together.

I always say that I’m on a mission to build a nation of good people with dynamic personal brands and successful businesses. We can learn from each other on this journey, particularly when we have accountability partners. This is why I am building a whole nation of them.

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You can connect to the the private community I’ve created to provide support and encouragement along the journey–online and via app. Check us out at programs.shontavia.com or via the Mighty Networks App.

Download the Mighty Network app by clicking here. Once it downloads, click “Find a Mighty Network” and search for Shontavia Johnson. You’ll find content there that I may not share elsewhere.

Thank you so much for joining me on this roller coaster of an experience. I am eternally grateful that I get to do this work with wonderful people each day.

Let’s make it happen,

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