Darcell Walker
Attorney, Author and Speaker







1)         Is the idea, technical, artistic or business?

 Technical ideas. This category of ideas includes most common products (goods and services) that help a person perform a task.  Many technical ideas come from the science and technology fields. Some technical areas include mechanical and electrical devices, computer-related products, chemical products, medical and health care products, and methods of doing things.  Technical ideas range from the very simple idea to the very complex idea.  In fact, any idea (something one can touch or hold) that performs some function (tangible or intangible) generally fits into this technical idea category.

 Artistic ideas. These ideas come out of the arts.  Artistic ideas include books, poems, music, visual arts, crafts, designs, decorations, writings, paintings, plays, skits, costume designs, drawings, photography and performances (dance and theater).

 Business ideas.  These ideas are for the development of various types of businesses.  These ideas can be for a type of business that currently exists or for a new type of business.  The business idea could be for a new restaurant or a copying and printing business.  A first type of business is a business that is similar to an existing business and located in the same general community as the previously existing business (the underserved market). A second type of business is the start of an existing business that is currently not available in a particular community (the unserved market). This idea could be for a franchise business. The third type of business is a new business that does not exist anywhere (the new market).  A technical or artistic idea can be the basis for new type of business.

 2)         Is the idea a device?

Devices in this context include any tangible (physical) device that has a utility and enables a person to perform a task.  Some examples of devices include electrical and mechanical devices, computer-related products. The devices can range for the very simple idea to the very complex idea.  The device can also be a system (series of components or multiple devices working as one) or an article of manufacture (a device without moving parts such as a container device).

 3)         Does the idea include a product name?

Many products (technical and artistic) have names.  The product name is a word, symbol, phrase, slogan, acronym or a combination of words and symbols that will identify and distinguish the produce from other products.  The product name is how the public will identify your product.  The product name is used in the advertising and marketing of the product to the consumer.  The product name and the business name can be the same.  Examples of product names include Tide, Crest, Bounty, Vaseline, and Snuggie.  Examples of business names include Nike, McDonald’s, Starbucks Coffee and Burger King.

 4)         Is the idea a series of steps (a method)?

 The idea can be a method or process (series of steps) for performing a tasking.  The method or process can be for electrically or mechanically performing tasks.  The method or process can be for performing tasks that range from simple tasks to complicated tasks.  The idea can also be a method and device.

 5)         Is the idea a composition?

 The idea can be a chemical composition and chemical process.  Formulas for hair care products, formulas for petroleum products and formulas for drink products are examples of chemical compositions.  The chemical composition can be simple or complex as long it results in a form of useful product.

 6)         Is the idea a name for identifying and marketing a product or business?

 The idea can be the name of a business.  The business can be a new type of business or an existing type of business.  The business name can be a word, symbol, phrase, slogan, acronym or a combination of words and symbols that will identify and distinguish the produce from other products.  The business name is how the public will identify your product.  The product name is used in the advertising and marketing of the product to the consumer.  The business name and the product name (the good or service that the business provides) can be the same.  Examples of business names include: Nike, McDonald’s, Starbucks coffee, Burger King.

 7)         Is the idea a literary work such as a book, poem song or play?

 Artistic ideas include books, poems, movies, plays, brochures, webpages, technical papers, scientific and research papers.

 8)         Does the idea include a product name?

 Many products (technical and artistic) have names.  The product name is a word, symbol, phrase, slogan, acronym or a combination of words and symbols that will identify and distinguish the produce from other products.  The product name is how the public will identify your product.  The product name is used in the advertising and marketing of the product to the consumer.  The product name and the business name can be the same.  Examples of product names include Tide, Crest, Bounty, Vaseline, and Snuggie.  Examples of business names include Nike, McDonald’s, Starbucks Coffee and Burger King.

 9)         Is the idea visual such as a drawing, painting, sculpture or photograph?

 Artistic ideas include paintings, photographs, drawings, designs, sculptures and other artistic works that are primarily visible.

 10)       Is the idea a collection of artistic works?

 Artistic ideas can include collections of artistic works.  A series of songs such as on a CD can be protected as a collection of works.  A series of writings such as a collection of poems can be protected as a collection of works.

 The above exercise ends at one of five bottom boxes:  F1, F2, F3, F4 and F5.  These boxes indicate different protections for ideas based on the responses to the questions in the exercise.

F1 - Patent Protection

 Patents protect inventions and discoveries.  These inventions and discoveries usually fall into the technical area.  Patents protect a very broad area of inventions and include: electrical and mechanical devices, computer related products, methods and processes for performing tasks electrically or mechanically, chemical compositions and chemical processes and biomedical technologies.  A patent gives the patent holder the right to exclude others from making, using or selling products based on the patented invention.

 * Although chemical compositions and methods are usually protected with patents, in some instances the best form of protection for some chemical products and some methods may be to keep the formula or method a secret (trade secret protection).  Recipes and soft drink formulas are examples of products that are protected best with trade secrets.

 

F2 - Patent and Trademark Protection

 In some instances, a person may have an idea that they want to commercialize.  If the idea is technical and one in which patent protection is appropriate, the person would need a patent to protect the underlying idea and a trademark to protect the name of the product that is based on the idea.

 F3 - Trademark Protection

 A trademark can be a word, phrase, symbol or design, which identifies and distinguishes the source of goods or services of one party from those of another party.  Trademarks protect the goodwill and reputation built into a brand name or product identity.  Trademarks protect the use of words, symbols, slogans and acronyms associated with a product.  Trademarks do not protect any underlying product, but they protect how one identifies a product or business in the market place.  For some products, trademark protection may be the only practical form of protection.

 F4 - Copyright Protection

 A copyright protects creative works and literary works that fall into the artistic area.  A copyright owner has the right to prevent others from copying, selling, displaying or performing the work.  Copyrightable works include books, poems, movies, brochures, paintings, photographs, WebPages, technical papers, scientific and research papers.

F5 - Copyright and Trademark Protection

 When the idea is an artistic idea that a person wants to commercialize, copyright protection would be appropriate for artistic work and trademark protection would protect the name/source of the artistic work or the name one uses to identify a product based on the artistic work.  Songs on a CD would be copyrightable works, while the title/source of the CD could be the subject of a trademark.


 





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