Blog post by Vanessa Wagner, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Manager, Loudoun County, Va Department of Economic Development
Many organizations worry about the process, costs or probability of receiving protection from the United State Patent and Trademark Office. While there are factors to consider before pursing intellectual property protection, the USPTO still remains a leader in protecting inventors in order to encourage innovation in our country. It is also a valuable strategy being used by Loudoun County businesses. According to the USPTO.Gov database there have been 588 patent awards assigned to companies or inventors in Loudoun County since 2013.
Many entrepreneurs, especially software developers, are unsure if they should consider filing for patents and copyright. While not all businesses may benefit from these protections, it is important to analyze the different protections and make a decision based on the business model.
Michelle K. Lee, USPTO director, urges this analysis, “An IP strategy has to be a piece of your business strategy and it will vary based on your industry sector. What your IP strategy should be depends on competitors, where you think you will do business, and your technology area.” She continues that each form of IP protection has its advantages and disadvantages, and making an informed decision is vital. Startups should also consider their global protection from day one. (Michelle K Lee (US Patent And Trademark Office), 2016)
Companies that aren’t sure where to start, or where to seek counsel, can use no-cost resources from the USPTO. Listed below are a few helpful tools for inventors:
- The online IP Awareness Assessment offers inventors a free tool to begin identifying what type of intellectual property protection assets a business may have, and options to protect those assets.
- Inventor’s Assistance by State highlights the special programs and organizations to support inventors in the U.S.
- The USPTO hosts outreach and education events throughout the year with many in Alexandria, VA or Washington, D.C.
- Pro Se and Pro Bono Assistance. Some small businesses may be eligible for pro-bono attorney representation.
If your organization is interested in learning more about or advocating for new technology, come to the Loudoun Tech Coalition’s November 18th meeting. This group of tech-minded professionals meets monthly to discuss tech trends how local businesses can integrate these into their strategies.
At Loudoun Economic Development, your business is our business. We want to make sure Loudoun companies are successful, and if your company isn’t in Loudoun already, we’d like to discuss how moving here can contribute to your success. Start by calling us today 1-(800)-LOUDOUN
Michelle K Lee (US Patent And Trademark Office). (2016, September). Washington, DC. Retrieved from Startup Grind (link here)
United States Patent and Trademark Office. (2016, October). (Retrieved here)