At the Wear 2022 Conference, Jerrah Edwards, the Acting Assistant Regional Director of the Western Regional United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) presented “Intellectual property (IP) Strategies Wearable Technology Startups Should Consider.” While focusing specifically on wearables, the strategies apply to any technology or sensing area. Her discussion Included an overview of intellectual property types: patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and also addressed why innovators and entrepreneurs should consider protecting their IP.
For wearables, the USPTO Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system currently breaks down the smart fabric market classifications into 5 areas. The A61B, Diagnosis, Surgery Identification area would include sensors.
Understanding the risks of early disclosure
One of the things that the USPTO is focused on in the education area is for start-ups and smaller businesses that do not have an in-house legal department and for people who have ideas and are considering that the idea may be worth patent protection. In addition to publicly demonstrating the invention or having a description of it appear in a newspaper or journal article, public disclosure can also include offering to sell your invention. In a first to file country, like the U.S., premature disclosure can let someone besides the inventor patent the invention. Filing a provisional application before all the details of a filing are determined is one way for an inventor to lock in the date
Key steps in an IP strategy include:
- Access your company’s IP assets and prioritize
- Know your competition
- What’s the pace of innovation and opportunities for growth?
- Determine the best way to protect your IP
- Develop a plan, set goals and implement
- Get help
Types of resources and assistance available through the USPTO
In addition to its headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, the USPTO has 4 regional offices for different locations within the U.S. for those who need help. Also, Edwards identified other places for IP help outside of the USPTO.