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The HBS Blog offers insight on Delaware corporations and LLCs as well as information about entrepreneurship, start-ups and general business topics.

What is Intellectual Property?
By Haim Factor Friday, December 3, 2010

Very simply put, intellectual property (IP) in the context of a business or even personal matters has the same significance as physical property, whether it is real estate, a vehicle, or a piece of equipment. If you are an intellectual property owner, you should protect your rights.

While most people instinctively know how to lock their car or build a fence around their plot of land, not everyone knows whether and/or how to protect his IP. This multi-part blog series is designed to:  help define IP, give you a better understanding of patents,  introduce some common patent procedures, and provide you with some overall resources regarding patents and patenting.

How is IP defined?

Just like other kinds of property, intellectual property needs to be protected from unauthorized use.  The first step is to define your IP. In the US, there are four definitions and ways to protect different types of intellectual property:

  • PATENTS provide rights for up to 20 years for inventions in three broad categories:

Utility patents protect useful processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter. Some examples: fiber optics, computer hardware, medications.

Design patents guard the unauthorized use of new, original, and ornamental designs for articles of manufacture. The look of an athletic shoe, a bicycle helmet, the Star Wars characters are all protected by design patents.

Plant patents are the way we protect invented or discovered asexually reproduced plant varieties. Hybrid tea roses, Silver Queen corn, Better Boy tomatoes are all types of plant patents.

  • TRADEMARKS protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in business. The roar of the MGM lion, the pink of the Owens-Corning insulation, and the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle are familiar trademarks.
  • COPYRIGHTS protect works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed. The Library of Congress registers copyrights which last the life of the author plus 50 years. Gone With The Wind (the book and the film), Beatles recordings, and video games are all works that are copyrighted.
  • TRADE SECRETS are information that companies keep secret to give them an advantage over their competitors. The formula for Coca-Cola is the most famous trade secret.

A good overview of IP can be found at: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ahrpa/opa/museum/1intell.htm

*Haim Factor is a registered USPTO Patent Agent with nearly a decade of experience in patent drafting, prosecution, and overall IP strategies. His clients take advantage of his rich experience of over 25 years in business development of a wide array of B2B and B2C products and his experience with intellectual property protection both within the US and internationally.

 

He can be contacted at: haim.factor@1st-tech-ideas.com and at 302.200.1424.

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Meet the HBS Team: Heather Garza, Sales Executive
By Carleigh Lowe Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Heather grew up in Orlando, FL where her parents were successful business owners. From an early age her parents taught her the hard work and dedication that it takes to be a thriving entrepreneur. Along with living in Florida, Heather spent several years traveling and living in all parts of the North American continent. She lived in Canada for nearly 2 years and then moved to Mexico where she lived for 6 years.
She moved to Delaware with her husband and worked in the banking industry for several years where she found a passion for helping entrepreneurs. Heather found it to be very rewarding to help new business owners find the funding and point them in the right direction to get their dreams up and running.

When Heather started working at HBS, it was a perfect fit. She really enjoys talking to new people every day from all over the globe and helping them make their business ideas a reality. Her fluency in English, Spanish, and Sign Language and familiarity with various international governments has helped her reach out to international entrepreneurs.

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NYC's Entrepreneurial Culture
By Carleigh Lowe Monday, November 29, 2010

"Start-Up City" is a fascinating piece about the history of NYC's entrepreneurial culture from City Journal. Below is an excerpt:

Like the rest of America, New York City has been buffeted by the recession that began in December 2007. This past August, the city’s unemployment rate stood at 9.6 percent, just over the national rate of 9.5. But New York’s economy will never recover from the downturn by trying to compete with China’s labor costs or with Houston’s housing costs. Nor can the city continue to rely on finance, which came to dominate it over the last 40 years: as the sad history of Detroit illustrates, one-industry towns rarely succeed in the long run. Rather, New York’s success will depend on its ability to produce a steady stream of new products and ideas.

Indeed, studies have shown that all over the country, entrepreneurship—along with January temperature and education—is one of the three great predictors of urban success. But nowhere is that more the case than in Gotham, whose very history is a tale of entrepreneurship. To survive, New York must continue to bring forth innovators who will reinvent the city—with luck, making it more economically diverse. If they succeed, it will change as much between 2010 and 2050 as it did between 1970 and today.

Entrepreneurs have played a key role in every stage of New York’s development. During the early nineteenth century, when waterways were the lifelines of commerce, New York owed its expanding sea trade partly to natural advantages: a safe, centrally located harbor and a deep river that cut far into the American hinterland. But those advantages became important because of the vision and energy of entrepreneurs like Jeremiah Thompson, the gambling Quaker. Thompson immigrated to New York at 17 to work in the American branch of his family’s wool business. By the 1820s, he had established himself as America’s largest importer of English clothing, its largest exporter of raw cotton, and its third-largest issuer of bills of exchange.

As a global trader, Thompson was acutely aware of the shortcomings of the transatlantic ships of the time, which would stay in port until their hulls were filled with goods. (Imagine showing up at LaGuardia and having to sit around until the airline sold enough tickets to fill the entire flight to Frankfurt.) Thompson saw an opening and created the Black Ball packet line, whose ships set sail on a scheduled day every month, no matter how light their cargoes were. His innovation was a gamble, since sometimes his ships sailed with relatively empty hulls, which meant less income from the merchants who bought the space. But a virtuous circle developed: fixed schedules attracted more cargo, and more cargo made ships sailing on fixed schedules more profitable. Once Thompson was turning a profit, other packet lines, like the Yellow Ball and Swallowtail lines, entered the market. An 1827 letter to the New England Palladium described the significance of Thompson’s invention: “I consider Commerce by lines of ships, on fixed days, an invention of the age nearly as important as Steam Navigation and in its results as beneficial to New York, which has chiefly adopted it, as the Grand [Erie] Canal.”

Thanks to such innovation, the city grew great during the first half of the nineteenth century, its population rising from 33,000 in 1790 to 814,000 on the eve of the Civil War. In 1821, New York’s exports, measured in dollars, were less than 10 percent higher than Boston’s. By 1860, New York was exporting over 700 percent more than the city on the Charles.

 

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Meet the HBS Team: Brett Melson, Director of U.S. Sales
By HBS Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brett MelsonBrett is a graduate of Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, Delaware. Brett's career at Harvard Business Services started where many well-known success stories through the years originated: the mail room. Brett excelled at managing and organizing what is a very mail-intensive business, receiving and routing many thousands of pieces of mail in a timely manner, not just for Harvard Business Services, but important documents on behalf of clients. Once Brett had the opportunity to interact personally with those clients, however, another talent came to the fore. With a natural feel for the issues and concerns clients face, Brett created sales opportunities across a whole new spectrum of business owners. Since then Brett's knowledge of Delaware business entities has become encyclopedic. In addition to managing and training other members of the company's sales staff, he is able to help customers across a broad range of business and professional fields, including accountants, attorneys, Tenant-in-Common groups, consultants, trade people, and those in the transportation industry just to name a few.

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The Tax Man is No Longer Going Postal
By Paul Sponaugle Monday, November 22, 2010

In an announcement on October 27, the Internal Revenue Service revealed that individual and business taxpayers will no longer receive tax packets in the mail.  The cost savings benefits are obvious, but the move comes after continued growth in electronic filing. It is estimated that 96 million individual tax returns were e-filed in 2010.  In contrast, only 8 percent of individuals who filed tax returns last year received tax packages in the mail.

At the beginning of October 2010, the IRS sent postcards announcing this change to individuals who filed paper returns last year and did not use a tax preparer or tax software.  The postcards explain how to get forms and instructions for a 2010 tax return, which will be available online in early January 2011 at www.IRS.gov

Here are some useful links to help you find your way around IRS.gov

 

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