Today (April 26th) is World Intellectual Property (IP) Day

In 2000, WIPO's member states designated April 26 - the day on which the WIPO Convention came into force in 1970 - as World IP Day with the aim of increasing general understanding of IP. 

How patents can support inventors and improve lives

1.    Patents recognize and reward inventors for their commercially-successful inventions. As such they serve as an incentive for inventors to invent. With a patent, an inventor or small business knows there is a good chance that they will get a return on the time, effort and money they invested in developing a technology. In sum, it means they can earn a living from their work.

2.    When a new technology comes onto the marketsociety as a whole stands to benefit – both directly, because it may enable us to do something that was previously not possible, and indirectly in terms of the economic opportunities (business development and employment) that can flow from it.

3.    The revenues generated from commercially successful patent-protected technologies make it possible to finance further technological research and development (R&D), thereby improving the chances of even better technology becoming available in the future.

4.    A patent effectively turns an inventor’s know-how into a commercially tradeable asset, opening up opportunities for business growth and job creation through licensing and joint ventures, for example.

5.    Holding a patent also makes a small business more attractive to investors who play a key role in enabling the commercialization of a technology.

6.    The technical information and business intelligence generated by the patenting process can spark new ideas and promote new inventions from which we can all benefit and which may, in turn, qualify for patent protection.

7.    Patent information can be mapped, offering policy makers useful insights about where technology R&D is taking place and by whom. This information can be useful in shaping policy and regulatory environment that allows innovation to thrive.  Two examples are below:


In addition to recognizing and rewarding inventors for their commercially successful technologies, patents also tell the world about inventions. In order to gain patent protection for their invention, the inventor must provide a detailed explanation of how it works. In fact, every time a patent is granted, the amount of technological information that is freely available to the general public expands (see Using and Exploiting Patent Information tutorial).

WIPO is making this and other IP-related information freely available to the public through its global databases. The largest of these – it is also one of the largest in the world – is PATENTSCOPE. It contains over 50 million patent applications that can be searched free of charge. The aim in making this information widely available is to spark new ideas and promote more innovation, and also to help narrow the knowledge gap which exists in developing and least developed countries.

Other intellectual property rights

Other IP rights can also be used to protect a new technology, product or service. For example:

Copyright protects artistic expressions like music, films, plays, photos, artwork, works of architecture and other creative works. The term “creative works” is defined very broadly for copyright purposes, such that copyright may be used to protect functional texts such as user guides and product packaging as well as works of art.

Design rights protect the shape and form of a product, i.e., what it looks like (whereas the functionality of a product – how it works – is protected by a patent). Companies invest a great deal of time and money in coming up with new and attractive designs that seduce consumers into buying their products. Design is now widely recognized as a key determinant of commercial success.

Trademarks are signs that are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of others. Trademarks are indispensable tools in today’s business world. They help companies expand their market share and they help consumers identify the products they want to buy in a crowded market place. 

Trade secrets can be used to protect the “know-how” of a business. Essentially, laws relating to trade secrets mean that some people (e.g., a company’s employees) may have a legal duty to keep certain information confidential (see Eight steps to secure trade secrets).

An invention can be protected as a trade secret or through a patent. Many businesses use trade secrets to protect their know-how, but there are downsides in doing this. From the company’s point of view it may be risky because once information is disclosed legitimately (e.g., if someone else works out how an invention works), it will no longer be protected. And from a public interest viewpoint, trade secrets are less beneficial than patents because they do not involve any sharing of technical information.

All graphics and content were obtained from the WIPO website, link below:

Record Year for International Patent Applications in 2016, up 7.3% from 2015; Strong Demand Also for Trademark and Industrial Design Protection – WIPO press release

Record Year for International Patent Applications in 2016, up 7.3% from 2015;  Strong Demand Also for Trademark and Industrial Design Protection – WIPO press release

The number of PCT applications is rising, especially from China.  Inventors are filing applications all over the world more than ever before.

Join us April 3rd 1pm-6:30pm at NJIT for discussions on global entrepreneurship with investors and business experts


Date: April 3rd, 2017
Time: 1pm-6:30pm
Location: NJIT’s Eberhardt Hall, Newark
Why: Excellent networking and interactive panel discussions
Registration: On Eventbrite, HERE

  • Curious about Cuba or Brexit? 
  • Want to meet Angel Investors?
  • Want to meet a former ambassador? 
  • Wondering how global issues affect entrepreneurship? 
  • Want to showcase your invention or business?
  • Want to network with experts in international business?

If yes, then join us for a great afternoon of interesting discussions and presentations, networking and of course food! 

Find out more at the Global Intellectual Property Law Symposium site HERE

Meet the Angels!  Investors, that is, on April 3rd at NJIT in Newark.  Our investors’ panel has grown.  Alex Biliris, a NY angel, is joining John Ason and Jerry Crighton in an informative panel discussion.  This is your chance to hear about their interests and ask them questions relevant to your project.  Listen to their success stories and learn strategies to grow your company. 

Afterward, stay for our keynote speaker, Mark Entwistle, as he fields questions about his past experiences as the Canadian ambassador to Cuba, Canadian attaché to Israel and the USSR, and his work now with Cuba-based projects through Acasta Capital. 

Our complete agenda (click here) includes panels and presentations on entrepreneurship here at home and internationally, with discussions on the effect of the new administration on entrepreneurs and small businesses, Brexit and its effects, Cuba as a place to expand your business, inventorship and global concerns, an inventors’ showcase, and of course networking and refreshments. 

We hope to see you at our 3rd global business/IP event, this year at NJIT’s beautiful Eberhardt Hall.


Producing Fan Fiction in the Digital Age

Photo from Wikipedia: By NBC Television - eBay itemphoto front photo backpress release, Public Domain,

Post written by Anthony J. Noonan, Esq., Patent Attorney at Gearhart Law

               Fan fiction, the creation of derivative works by fans of an original work that incorporates elements of the original work and/or continues or expands upon a story described in the original work, has been around and published for many decades with little to no interference from the owners of the original work’s intellectual property.  However, over the last decade, there has been an expansion in the creation and widespread knowledge of fan fiction.  What was once only known by the most ardent of fans is now widely read, watched, or listened to by many people all across the globe.  This is partially due to the dawn of the internet age.  Fan-created books, movies, and audio recordings no longer need to be disseminated in physical form.  These fan-creations can now be cheaply uploaded online, becoming available to the entire globe nearly instantaneously.  With these derivative works now becoming mainstream, the owners of the original work’s intellectual property have begun to take notice and take steps to protect their intellectual property.

               One franchise that, for decades, has had a history of fans producing fan fiction is Star Trek.  With the dawn of YouTube, fan-made Star Trek series and movies have spawned, with ever increasing production values.  These fan-made series and movies have amassed a cult following and have occasionally starred actors reprising their roles from officially licensed series and movies. 

The popularity of these fan-made films eventually led to the production of a crowdfunded fan-made film with higher-than-normal production values and reprisals from actors from officially licensed Star Trek series and movies.  This led CBS and Paramount Pictures to file a lawsuit for violation of intellectual property rights (December 2015) and eventually release a set of guidelines (in 2016) for acceptable fan-made films based on their Star Trek intellectual property.  Their announcement reads, in part, “CBS and Paramount Pictures will not object to, or take legal action against, Star Trek fan productions that are non-professional and amateur and meet the following guidelines.”  (  In January 2017, the above-mentioned lawsuit was settled out of court.

               Although these guidelines provide reasonable rules describing what can and cannot be done when producing a fan-made film and enable fans to continue to make fan-made films without having to pay royalties to the intellectual property owners, the guidelines are often met with disdain from the fan base for preventing many of them from producing the fan-made films that they so wished without repercussions. 

               As the popularity of fan fiction of every medium continues to grow, it is likely that more intellectual property owners will institute similar guidelines in attempts to appease fan bases while still maintaining control over the intellectual property.  It is also likely that further litigation will result from the production of fan fiction.


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