Friday, August 29, 2008

Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights

What are they and do you need one or all of them? Here are some brief definitions and information:

What is a Patent?
The standard legal definition is "A right to sue." It's an investment vehicle in terms of being a marketing document or a bargaining chip. Basically, if you apply for and are assigned an actual patent, you simply have the right to sue someone who produces or claims any rights to your intellectual property.

There are two types of Patents; Utility and Design.

  • Utility: New composition, manufacture, or method. Inventing or recreating how something functions or works.
  • Design: Just that, something that already exists and you are creating a new look.

What is a Trademark?
A name, phrase, or logo. A trademark is an indicator of the source of something. You can use a trademark for goods or services (TM or SM). Once your trademark have been accepted and registered, you would use the circle-R in place of the TM or SM.

There are some basic requirements for obtaining a trademark. The name must be sufficiently new - this often requires a preliminary search with the USPTO. It can't be confusingly similar and not descriptive.

What is a Copyright?
An automatic right to duplication. A copyright occurs when a work of art is created. With formal registration, others can't copy the work.

Copyright requirements are minimal. You can post your work as copyrighted by just marking it with the circle-C, the year it was created, and owner. You can also note, "All rights reserved." You do need to register your work with the USPTO to be able to actually go after someone for copyright infringements.

Interesting note; you can copyright an invention as a work of art and this is beneficial in preventing knock-offs from other countries trying to import them into the US.

In a nutshell:

  • Patent - Product
  • Trademark - Name
  • Copyright - Writings

Excerpted from the works of The Luther Law Firm.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Catch 'Ya Friday!

Hi guys,

I've got a summer bug. I don't know where it came from, but the sooner it's gone, the happier I'll be. I have so much to share with all of you. On Friday, I'll pick back up with the legal stuff with regard to patents, trademarks, and copyrights. For now, I'm stay'n close to the littlest room in the house!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm Tired and Inspired!

Welcome to a new week!

I'm pooped! I had the most amazing weekend and now I'm both inspired and exhausted. This weekend was the Mind to Market seminar in Oakland with Amilya Antonetti. In a nutshell, this was an intensive weekend of segmented education on everything from taking action on a good idea; from how the retail stores really accept new products (how much that costs to even be considered), to finding money to get started, legal stuff regarding patents, trademarks, copyrights, and accounting. Should you be a sole proprietor? A C-corp? An S-corp? A LLC? And then when you figure that out, is your product something you need to brand? Talk about an esoteric topic! Marketing, Public Relations, Creating the Perfect Pitch or better yet, knowing not to pitch and how to build a great working relationship instead. There was even a class on being open to changing the way you think about everything!

I felt like I went into the weekend with lots to learn, but also well on my way. Yeah, right! I not only have so much more to think about, re-think, undo, do differently, and some stuff I'm not going to do at all. It's hard to believe that I could be happy having my glove world picked up, taken apart, shaken vigorously, and all the pieces handed back to me. All the way home in the car, I felt like quitting. As I got home and thought about telling Dave, "Oh well, it was a fun little adventure, now I'm getting a regular job." all I could do was go to bed. Today, I'm still tired, but I'm ready to get back to work. To use the new tools and information to create this dream. So now it's back to the drawing board with all new, better quality paper, paint, tools, and a big dose of, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I know I can."

Friday, August 22, 2008

I'm Off to See the Wizard(s)!

This is my M2M (Mind to Market) weekend in Oakland. Go back to the August 7th post where I told you all about it. When I come home on Sunday night, I will give you a full update for Monday's post.

Do you have an idea? Is there something you need that you can't find? What about something you use that could be better? These are all the simmering of a roaring boil! Go! Start! Do it!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Will the Olympics Improve IP Protection in China?

Guest Writer, By Peter Skoutelas and Barbara Luther
With the Olympic Games beginning in China, we found the following information. China has historically had a culture of sharing and copying any new creation. This poses many issues with intellectual property protection and enforcement. China is working on changing this culture, which may benefit you.
Barbara J. Luther, Esq.

Change is in the wind for the protection of intellectual property rights in China-due in no small part to the Olympic Games in Beijing. To protect government owned Olympic Intellectual Property rights, the Chinese have started a program to educate the public on counterfeits.

Olympic Intellectual Property rights include Olympic symbol exclusive rights, trademark rights, and copyrights. All Beijing Olympic licensed products are authorized to be sold by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, or BOCOG. In November 2005, the BOCOG licensing program was launched. The program included 70 manufacturing and 80 retail companies. During the games, there will be approximately 10,000 licensed stores throughout China. These stores sell, among others, pins, stationary, toys, bags, arts and crafts, daily use products, audio and video products, sport utilities, food and more. In all, the products incorporate 600 designs, spanning 11 categories of licensed products. It would be no surprise to learn that thousands of vendors in China are actively selling from unauthorized commercial use of the Olympic Symbols. The products they’re selling illegally depict the Olympic Symbols along with Fuwa, the Beijing Olympic mascots. The Chinese government has started to realize the amount of money they stand to lose, after witnessing the 2004 Athens Games generate $61.5 million in revenues from the sale of licensed Olympics merchandise.

As a consequence, IP protection activity by the Chinese government has picked up recently and is proceeding along multiple fronts. Enforcement has included investigations by the authorities uncovering over 1,500 cases of violations
involving Beijing Olympic slogans, logos, and other trademarks. As a result,BOCOG, together with the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department, are determined to crack-down on unlicensed vendors who are pirating CDs, DVDs, and counterfeit Olympic products. Public education, including an anti-counterfeiting hotline promoted everywhere from TV to bumper stickers, has made the protection of Olympic IP a community cause. With the public tuned in, the authorities have begun receiving much needed help in cracking down on illegal goods bearing Olympic trademarks.

The Olympics Games bring the countries of the world together, to compete, to showcase their pride, and to enrich us all with their culture. Beijing 2008 will be an important test for the Chinese to lay to rest allegations and concerns from other countries. The Chinese government has had a sophisticated awareness of these issues for some time and has been quietly, patiently, laying the foundation for effective detection, adjudication, and application of legal remedies in protecting intellectual property rights. Finally, this is their chance to enforce respect of Intellectual Property rights and encourage acknowledgement of the unique products of others.
What do we recommend for protecting your Intellectual Property in China? Because the Chinese government is educating its citizens to reject fakes and is applying IP law against infringers, we are more optimistic for coverage. Keep in mind also that the rapid growth of the Chinese economy, combined with improvements in the IP enforcement regime, will in the coming years compound the value of patents, trademarks, and copyrights covering Chinese territory.
Finally, one thing is certain: if you don’t file in China, you’ll have no Chinese intellectual property rights to protect!

Call us to discuss your particular situation.
The Luther Law Firm, PLC © 2008 All Rights Reserved
10575 N 114th Street, Suite 103 Scottsdale, AZ 85259
Phone 480.344.7745 Fax 480.344.7748

The Luther Law Firm makes available this information for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended as legal advice. Moreover, no attorney-client relationship is created through your receipt or use of this information. Do not act upon them without first seeking legal counsel. Further, the information is general and may not apply to particular factual or

Monday, August 18, 2008

Still on Patents

There is so much to talk about and consider on this topic, you could probably blog on this subject alone!

So what did you come up with? Will you patent or not? I learned something else on this in terms of getting your product to market. Let's just assume you have a good idea and you choose not to get a patent. I'm certain you plan to put out a product that's the highest quality, best you can produce. In your plans, provide for a product that's a little less in terms of quality, make some minor changes, maybe not so many color choices, and produce and sell it for less. Yes! Knock yourself off! You heard me right, don't leave it to the Asians (meaning China), or even Wal Mart, make a less superior product, get it in the discount stores and collect your money for both the high and low end of your market!

The reality is, someone will do what you are doing. They will do it quickly, and they will have markets who will sell for them even though they may not have the rights to your intellectual property. You know that your patent is only as strong as your wallet is thick to protect it. My thoughts are do it first, do it best, do it twice, and have people think of you as the original. That way, even when someone is asking for the generic, they will ask for a "Coke." See what I'm saying?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Let's Take a Break!

So in reading back through the last couple of weeks, it feels to me like my posts have all be very matter of fact. I guess I want to share as much with you as I can, and it's hard to do that in a chit-chatty sort of way.

I went to a meeting Wednesday evening for a group called Parent Innovators. This is a group of women who are at all stages of ideas, development, licensing, manufacturing, and sales. The thing I thought was so wonderful about these women is that they're taking action to make their lives better. What more can I say? So many women, and people in general, want more out of life, but they're not willing to do the hard work. I hear all day long about people who don't have time or money, or both! Whatever you think, you're right!

There were two women at this meeting who are single moms (maybe more, but two I'm sure of), that want to take control of their lives, their finances, and do what they love. I applaud them. That's the point I'm getting to, if you find something that's born from your creative energy, you'll love to work on it. Making the extra hours in the day happen will be what you look forward to, instead of one more thing on your to-do list. I have sometimes thought, how can there be anything out there left to invent? In fact, there are so many things you could create to make life easier, fix a problem, fill a need, or even just do something better than it's currently being done.

So, chime in with some questions. Tell me what you think of what I'm learning & sharing and if its interesting and of use to you. I can't wait until the day that I'm really the expert, and can share what I know to empower men and women to make the time to chase their dreams. It's certainly not the easy road, but I suspect the most rewarding!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

To Patent or Not To Patent?

Do I need a patent? It's not always necessary to pay for a patent. You have to honestly evaluate your idea or product and decide how protectable it is. In reality, anyone who creates something new is going to be copied. Isn't that the highest form of flattery? Yes and no. It's not when their taking cash out of your retirement fund!

The number one rule with patents is, patents are only as enforceable as you have a bank roll to enforce them. Also, you have to know that someone is producing your product. You will be the police for your patent(s).

In the case of our gloves, we've determined that we do need patent protection. Think about it, we've honed in on making a measurement on the human hand intellectual property as it relates to gloves. That means, once we're fully patent protected, no one can make a glove that fits a child's hand without paying us a royalty. Think about that for a second (I know I am!). That's huge! So yes, we needed to go get us a patent.

The flip side is with a gadget, of some kind. I'm not belittling gadgets, I love them, you just have to look at where you want to spend your cash. Do you want to pay big bucks and big time getting a patent, only to be knocked off anyway, and now you have no money left to go after the people who knocked you up, I mean off! Laughing! Only a woman will really find that funny. In many cases, it pays to be the first to get your product to market, then take it to the biggest guy likely to knock you off, and see if you can license (I'll explain this in my next post) your idea to them. In many cases, they will pay you a royalty for everyone they sell, and you can just collect the checks. You were first, they bought your position, now you can get to the next thing.

Another piece of info that seems to be floating around out there, is that you need to write down your idea on a plain piece of paper, seal it in an envelope, and mail it to yourself. When you get it, don't open it. Save it for if you ever need to prove this was you idea, the postmark will be legal tender. In fact, what you really need to do, is file a provisional patent application with the United States Patent and Trade Mark Office ( and this will give you a full year to test drive your idea with the proper protection. You need to file your full patent application within one year of the filing date of the provisional, but this is the safer way to go. It costs $105. What happens is, the USPTO logs your idea, doesn't even look at it, and gives you a registration number. If someone tries to steal it, you can reference your registration number, at this time they will look at the idea, and determine that you had rights first. This is also a gray area, because is someone filed a provisional before you, there would be no way to know. In that case, should you find each other in the marketplace, the one who filed first, wins.

So to recap:

  • Determine if you need a patent

  • If you want to test drive your product, apply for a provisional patent.

  • If you don't need a patent, get to creating, prototyping, testing, and producing your product.

  • If you do need a patent, find a good attorney. I don't advise doing this on your own unless you've done it before, or know someone who has.

  • My attorney is Barbara Luther, The Luther Law Firm, 480-344-7745, I highly recommend her!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Create a Prototype

So now you have your idea, you've googled it until you can't google it anymore, it's not in a store near you, and it doesn't seem to exist. What now?
Figure out what you need to make it yourself. Yes, I said make it yourself! I know, there are some things that maybe you have no idea how to make. You know you need it, but you don't have the expertise to create it on your own. Here's where I think most people fall out of the game. They think they can't make a prototype, and are sure they can't afford to pay someone to make one for them, and even if they could afford to, if they tell anyone about it, it'll be stolen. You all know by now what I'm going to say, "Whatever you think, you're right!"

In my experience, I was able to make a prototype at my kitchen table using a pair of scissors, duct tape, a zipper, a needle and some thread, and a used snow glove from a thrift store. As far as textiles and wood products, you can go on line and search "rapid prototyping," or "rapid manufacturing." There are companies that knock off designers sometimes even before the designers themselves get their product out! You can also visit colleges to find students and professors who can help you. Post an ad for some help on There are many options if you're just willing to seek them out. It takes time, it may take some money, but if you don't do the work, you'll never experience the reward.

My best advice about this is to do whatever you can to make something on your own. You know what your idea is, what problem it's solving, and how you want it to work. Nobody will make your product like you will.

On the subject of someone stealing your idea. Yes, it can happen, but so can a serious car accident on your way to work. Are you not going to drive to work today? In reality, you can protect your idea with a very simple Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), and your inventor's log. You can also apply for a Provisional Patent that is a super simple process, only $110, and gives you a year of patent pending protection to really get out there and test drive your idea. The same way you drive safely and wear a seat belt to help ensure a safe trip in to work.

I'll talk more about what I know about patents and should or shouldn't you apply for a patent for your idea on Wednesday!

Friday, August 8, 2008

I Need a book

For those of you just joining us, I'm spending this month sharing my journey of bringing an idea to fruition, and then a product to market. It's still early in the story, so curl up with your computer and get motivated to know if I can do it, so can you!

So, I have this great idea, I know it will work, it seems at this point there's nothing else like it, but what do I do with it? I need a book. There has to be a book written by a mom, for a mom. There is, it's called The Mom Inventor's Handbook written by mom Tamara Monosoff.

The Mom Inventors Handbook: How to Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing

Frankly, I couldn't find any other books like this one and even as I searched again today, there are very few. If you have an idea, BUY THIS BOOK!

In any case, I needed a book and this was a good one. I read it from cover to cover and one of the great pieces of advice I got was to start and inventors log. This is basically a notebook, with pages that are bound, not loose leaf (very important), that is a journal of how you thought of your idea, when, where, why, how, and every step you took afterward. The reason this is so important is that this book could potentially be a legal document. If someone were to try to steal your idea and get it to market before you, you would likely take them to court. In a court of law, an inventors notebook could prove to be the one piece of evidence that wins your case. Some people advise to have your book notarized, but that's one of those things you have to decide to do or not to do. I didn't. My book starts going back to 2006 when Dave and I first realized Mason wanted gloves, not mittens. Gloves were extremely hard to come by in small sizes, and when we did find them, they didn't fit. I told the whole story, in long hand. Here is why I didn't have my book notarized; as I enter new information, I'm using different pens, my penmanship varies based on where I am (in the car, at a restaurant, in my bed, etc), and it's very clear that I did not sit down and create this log in haste to prove something. I also document who I speak with about it and why I was speaking with them. This is also proof that they took this idea from me.

The other thing I got from the book was to search the Internet extensively. Search it for an hour a day to make sure what you think you've created doesn't exist. Go online and search the USPTO website to see if you can find any patents or applications for what you want to do. If you can't find it, it may not exist. I searched and searched, and my friend Alice found a glove that seemed to be similar. I immediately bought it and found that though it was created to address my problem, it wasn't doing it. I poked all the holes in it I could and moved on with creating a better prototype. I enlisted my Aunt Jeannette to sew zippers in several pair of kids gloves I bought at thrift stores.

My next question was, do I need a patent?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

When Opportunity Knocks

I'm going to get a little ahead of myself here because this is a time sensitive issue. I'm a firm believer in the Universe providing for us what we need and when. In a way I could have never predicted, I was introduced to Amilya Antonetti ( For those of you who know her, you know why I was so excited. And for those of you who don't, well, you should! Smiling!

Amilya is the woman responsible for bringing the concept of "green" to household cleaners more than fifteen years ago. Go to her web site to read her story. What I want to share with you, is how Amilya has made it her mission to help people like me get our ideas off the ground without all the trials and tribulations that most have to go through just to realize they were given bad advice, or worse, taken for thousands of dollars needlessly.

I was fortunate enough to spend a day with Amilya and her team where I met Barb Luther, my patent attorney, and Bob Warden from QVC, just to name a few. In that single day, I got enough good, sound advice to take my idea and my kitchen table prototype and run like a mad woman. The day I spent with Amilya was in March of this year. In less than four months, I was patent pending, and in communication with two large manufactures of snow gloves. Both manufactures are creating real prototypes for me to review, and we are discussing how we want to do business. Do I want to strictly license the idea, or do Dave and I want to work with the company we chose to work with to promote the "mom invented" idea around the country? All of this came from one business day with Amilya!

Here's my question to you, do you want to spend your money trying this, and implementing that, or do you think enough of your idea to invest in the contacts you could make in a single day? What if I told you you could spend a weekend in this kind of company? It's a small investment to attend Amilya's Mind to Market weekend, and frankly, worth every penny and more! The weekend is $1295.00 and you will come away with everything you need to know to get your product to market. As a favor to me, for inviting you, you can do the whole weekend for $995! Yet again, another reason I love this group of people.

I haven't even told you the really good news (sounds like, "But wait! There's more!). There's an application process to attend. There won't be any two products or ideas the same, and if your product is not something that Amilya feels she can help you make happen, you won't ever spend a penny! Go to for complete information on the M2M weekend in Oakland.

I don't believe there's a more ethical and honest person out there to help you. Okay, so now you know how I feel about Amilya. You can certainly make your own choices about how to invest in your product and yourself, but let me wrap up by telling you, I'm working the M2M weekend in Oakland on August 22, 23, and 24th. I'm working it as a volunteer because I want to give back to the group that sent me on my way via a shooting star with a sling-shot!

From Amilya:


Thanks for putting this out there! I enjoy working with you and I look forward to meeting anyone you send my way.

If you have any friends that think they have what it takes and have an idea that is ready to launch, than tell them to come meet me. I want to know who they are and what great things we can do together.

One idea can change the world…don’t keep it to yourself!


Monday, August 4, 2008

Here's Why Golves Don't Fit Little Hands

For children (ages 1-6, possibly up to age 12) the placement of the thumb on existing kid's gloves is in the wrong place. It's apparent that manufacturers are making children’s gloves using the same pattern as adult gloves, only smaller. In fact, children’s hands are not simply smaller. They are different in that the space between the thumb and forefinger is not as long therefore, the thumb of the glove needs to be moved up toward the finger holes. You can easily see this when you put a glove on a child’s hand, they get their thumb in first and then their little fingers do not reach the proper placement through the finger holes. They usually go about half way, and the little finger does not get that far. This is of course, comes after the struggle to get their fingers in each hole at all, and we know because we struggled getting our little ones fingers in gloves because his fingers simply do not reach the holes!

The next big piece of this puzzle is that as parents, we can't see that our little one's fingers aren't reaching, so we keep trying to funnel them into those four little holes. Being able to completely open the back of the glove will do so many things!
  • It will give our young children a visual, they can now see right where to put their fingers.
  • With the thumb properly placed on the glove, their fingers will reach the holes they can see.
  • Being able to open the back will alleviate the frustration of pulling the lining out of the glove when they take it off.
  • We'll be able to properly clean the inside of the glove and also allow for sufficient air-flow for thorough drying.
  • Finally, we will eliminate the emotional heartache that both parent and child feel when we have to struggle every single time we have to wear gloves (that one for me is worth the whole price of admission!).

Finally, we have opted to move the little finger on the glove down to properly fit a human hand. Most all snow gloves have all of our fingers entering the holes at the same time. Look at the the inside of your hand and tell me that your pinky finger is in a perfect line with your other three fingers. Likely not.

This idea was certainly born out of a need for toddlers, but the truth is everyone needs a cold weather glove that properly fits them. Men's hands and not all "big," and women's hands are not men's hands simply smaller. We plan to create real sizes in gloves for real human hands. The zipper in the back of the glove will provide for a more snug fit, thus being safer, more functional, and certainly more comfortable.

So, I now know why, and know from making my kitchen table prototype that the zipper will work, what do I do now?

Crazy Comparison

The gloves in the photo are a ladies large and a toddler extra small. They both measure 1 1/2 inches from thumb to forefinger entry. This is a picture of a toddler's glove on top of an adult ladies glove, showing this measurement is the same.

To read more, go to

Go to the Contact Us page ( and send me your e-mail address. I'm building a database of interested parties as leverage to get our glvoes in the larger retail stores. I figure I have a better chance if I have a long list of people who want to buy1

Friday, August 1, 2008

I have an Idea!

Back in 2006, Dave and I were in Truckee, CA with Mason and wanted to share with him our love of the snow. We love to ski, sled, make snowmen, and just play. All I could find for Mason were mittens, but that seemed okay. It seemed okay until we got outside and within 5 minutes, he took them off. Thirty seconds later he was crying with cold hands.

What we found that day, little known to us at the time, is that little kids need functional gloves, not mittens. We also learned in the coming two years that there are no gloves that fit little kids hands. We thought Mason might be behind the curve since we couldn't get his fingers in the holes, and I certainly thought in 2006 and 2007, there had to be an innovative product in snow gear, specifically gloves, for little kids. In 2008, planning our annual trip to Truckee, the mom of one of Mason's friends informed me that her daughter hated the snow because they couldn't find gloves to fit her hands. She was 6 years old at the time! Certainly old enough to put a youth sized glove on. It was then that I recalled Dave struggling to get gloves on Mason's hands and at the time he said, "They should put a zipper in the back of these things." That recollection led to the invention of the WarmEase Zipperback Gloves for kids (

January 24, 2008 I embarked on the mission to first see if a zipper would make the hard turn on the back of a glove, and then to see if something like it existed. On my thrift store glove, with some duct tape, a zipper, a needle and thread, sitting and sewing at my kitchen table, I learned the zipper worked. Hours of Internet searches turned up nothing that a child could easily put on, certainly nothing with a zipper. This is how I invented the WarmEase Zipperback Glove.

Could it be that in 2008 a snow glove for kids doesn't exist? No. They do exist, but they don't fit. I discovered why they don't fit and I will explain that on Monday!