This summer I participated in Stanford Law School's summer program on understanding U.S. intellectual property law. This certificate-granting course is primarily targeted at international (non-U.S.) intellectual property lawyers, as an overview of U.S. IP law. In fact, among the 40 or so students from around the world, I was the only non-attorney, and one of two Americans, to participate in the week-long program at Stanford's campus.
As a survey course, a broad range of information is covered including utility patents, copyrights, trademarks, design patents, and data-driven litigation. In addition, classes on trade secrets, and on the venture capital process, provided valuable and interesting information from the tech business perspective. The majority of instructors were very good, although I would highly recommend that participants first review a self-paced primer on U.S. IP law, such as the the Michelson Institute videos that I have previously reviewed. This pre-work will make concepts and term much clearer, especially for those who are not native English speakers - but really for everyone.
What I found more valuable than the class time were the field trips we took to meet with in-house IP teams at Google and Twitter. Twitter requested that we sign a non-disclosure agreement, while Google was more open (even letting us wander around a bit of the campus). The Google presentation included representative from key IP areas (copyright, patent, and trademark) and included a useful Q&A session.
One delight from the week occurred during Lixian Hantover's class on design patents. In going through examples of design patents, D753,683 came up on the screen. Coincidentally, I'm a co-inventor on that patent for a graphical user interface on an oven display - resulting in the photo above. Additionally, wandering around Stanford's beautiful campus was a nice experience, I particularly recommend the cactus garden.
Last, but not least, I'd like to than my employer, EY, for generously funding my participation in the program.
I recently viewed a largely excellent online video series covering the fundamentals and history of intellectual property in the United States. Published by the Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, the 3+ hrs of content covers patents, copyrights, trademarks, and even trade secrets. Design patents are given a relatively small section, understandably, but the history and recent context of patenting software is presented more thoroughly.
The presentation is highly visual and approachable, using dynamic animation and graphics. Aimed at novices, and more specifically, business people who don't necessarily have an IP background, it is still sufficiently broad and detailed enough to serve as refresher for those with some knowledge in the field.
Not to say there isn't room for criticism - there are a remarkable number of glaring spelling errors throughout the videos. At first I noticed one or two, but as I got later into the series they seemed more frequent, as if an editor had grown tired of making corrections. While not catastrophic, the typos leave a mark of unprofessionalism on an otherwise highly refined, and well narrated series.
In addition to the Michelson site, the videos are available through YouTube, and offered as a free course offering by Udemy.
I've co-authored a thought piece for EY's Better Working World site around the need for organizations to effectively define and implement an internal intellectual property strategy. Is the best idea the one that protects the rest of your ideas?discusses the need to thoughtfully balance more visible protections, such as patents, with trade secrets.
Tracking the progress of patents through the application process can be like watching paint dry (note, I like watching paint dry). While the USPTO has been relatively consistent in hitting two-to-three year timelines, sometimes the process can drag out. But at other times, when it rains, it pours...