USPTO Relaunches “Path to a Patent”

I got this email from the USPTO today, and I pass it along to you.

Path to a Patent quarterly series restarts January 12

Is your New Year’s resolution to file a patent? The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) eight-part recurring Path to a Patent series covers everything from intellectual property (IP) basics, to patent searching, to what you’ll need to draft and submit your patent application. 

This free, virtual series, which is hosted by USPTO regional officesstarts January 12 (2023) with the Path to a Patent, Part I: IP basics and will run through March 16.

Copyright and Public Domain Day 2023 … (Some of) The Best Things in Life Are (Now) Free!

Public Domain Day (which is always January 1) 2023 is the date on which all copyright protection in works that enter the public domain in 2023 expires.

Public domain works are works that have been released into the public domain by the copyright holder or, as with Public Domain Day, by the law of the country in which the work was created. This means that you can use these works without worrying about copyright infringement. Entry into the public domain, however, does not relieve you of the requirement to cite your source; even when that source is in the public domain, if you fail to cite, you plagiarize … and plagiarism gets you into academic honesty troubles.

Works entering the public domain this year include the last of the Sherlock Holmes stories, “The Jazz Singer,” and “The Best Things In Life Are Free” … together with “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!”

Always be sure to get permission from the copyright holder if you plan to use a work in a way that requires their permission.

If you have any questions about copyright law or the public domain, call us at 518-371-4599 or schedule an appointment with us here.

How Do I … Register Copyright?

US copyright registration is done through the US Copyright Office. It is not done through the writers’ groups!! Yes, there is at least one writer’s group out there that you can register your work of authorship with, but that’s not copyright registration.

To actually register your copyright, you need to know a few things. First, you need to know what type of work of authorship this is. Is it a written work? A work of the visual arts? A musical work? A movie? Or is it some combination (movies contain music, for example).

Once you’ve got the type of work, you need to know who the author is. Maybe that’s you. Maybe it’s your employer. Maybe it’s someone else.

Then the Copyright Office’s registration bot leads you through a series of questions about the work and about the author … and about the speed with which you want the registration to process. Fair Warning: Unless you have some VERY specific reason, from a cost basis you do NOT want “special handling.” That raises your registration fee from less than $100 to well over $700. Don’t go there unless this work is on the courthouse steps being litigated.

After you’ve answered all of the Copyright Office’s questions, it’s time to pay them and submit your copies of the copyrighted work. They allow certain works to be electronically submitted; for others, you must mail two best copies to them. Yes, they give you a mailing label … which does not include postage. Also, remember to affix … as in staple or glue … the tracking tag to each copy you submit.

Once you ship the works off to the Copyright Office, you sit back and twiddle your thumbs until either you hear from the Office with questions for you or the registration certificate arrives in the mail. 

Put your registration certificate in a safe place. You’ll need it if you ever need to enforce your copyright.

Canadian Copyright Overhaul

Seems Canada is revamping its copyright laws. This is interesting, especially for visual artists in the collectors’ arena: the artist will be able to receive a portion of the sales proceeds from the sale of their works in some cases.

In most of the world, artists and authors receive royalties only for the first sale of their works or of authorized copies of their works (the “first-sale doctrine”). This means that once a work or authorized copy is sold, the artist or author has gotten his or her compensation for the work or authorized copy; the work is therefore free to be sold on the open market without bothering with paying again the artist or author.

This remains true in Canada (and in the rest of the world) for authors; you can still sell your copy of “Harry Potter” without paying J.K. Rowling a percentage of the sale price. Even a used bookstore can sell a used book without compensating the author, even if that copy of the book is a very collectable copy (a signed first edition, for example). But if artwork gets sold by a gallery or at auction, the artist cashes in if the sale is made in Canada.

Is this a good thing? That’s a “duh…yeah…” for the artist, especially for the collectable artist whose work sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the collectors’ market. If the artist is to receive a percentage of the sale (the Canadian group that represents artists, CARFAC, is pushing for a 5% royalty), the artist can end up profiting nicely from that work. But others may see this as the top of what can become a slippery slope. Why should artists and not authors benefit from this change? And, if authors also start to benefit, what happens when the law expands to the rare book collectors? Will they also have to pay a percentage to the author or the author’s estate until copyright expires?

Where does it end?

Understand, I’m all for artists and authors getting paid, and paid fairly, for their works of authorship; I’m just not convinced that this new law is the means by which to do that. Do I have another suggestion? Not really.

So we’ll wait and see what happens.

Copyright Claims Board Opens

The new Copyright Claims Board, or CCB, will hear certain copyright disputes involving claims of up to $30,000. Parties can now file a claim, opt out of a proceeding, reference CCB Handbook materials, and contact the CCB with questions on

No one is required to argue a dispute before the CCB; If you have a copyright claim, you can choose to go to federal court instead, and your respondent, should you choose the CCB, can opt out of the CCB proceeding. If the respondent chooses to opt out, you can still bring a lawsuit against that respondent in federal court.

You don’t need a lawyer to appear before the CCB; they take pro se matters. However, as in any legal matter, you know the old adage about the lawyer representing him- or herself… The Board hears claims related to infringement, declarations of non-infringement, and claims of misrepresentation in notices sent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Further, even if your claims fall within one or more of the categories the CCB can hear, if the claim is more than $30,000, the CCB cannot hear it; the case, if it cannot be resolved, must go to federal court.

All CCB matters are conducted online; you do not need to travel to Washington, DC (the home of the Copyright Office) to have your matter heard. Hearings are handled through video conferencing.

If you have a copyright dispute that falls within the parameters of what the CCB can hear, this three-member tribunal, whose members have extensive expertise in copyright matters, gives you a streamlined alternative to federal court proceedings. It is designed to be less expensive and faster than bringing a case in a federal court. However, like all arbitration-like processes, the CCB’s decision is final. Except for abuse of discretion claims (where the CCB tribunal members abuse their power in deciding a case), once the case is decided at the CCB, that’s the end of it. You cannot bring the matter in federal court.

This is a useful device the Copyright Office has established. It will help to lessen the caseloads on the civil dockets of the federal courts. It will lessen the expense of settling disputes. And it gives some consistency to copyright arbitration, which is currently conducted under the rules of each of the 13 federal court circuits … and yes, those rules differ.

For more information about copyright and other intellectual property matters, visit Delain Law Office’s website.

Competition Is Good…Even For Government Service Providers

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has FINALLY expanded the vendor pool to meet its patent production requirements. The agency believes that the added competition will lower prices. Those lower prices may save the agency an estimated $150 million over the next ten years. Who knows? Maybe some of that savings will dribble down to the inventors who use the agency to receive patent protection.

Lower prices engendered by competition may save the USPTO an estimated $150 million over the next ten years. 

The protection of intellectual property is the main goal of the USPTO. They are responsible for examining, issuing and maintaining the registrations of patents and trademarks in the United States. Sadly, they as a government agency have been … ahem … a bit lagging in encouraging free-market competition. They are historically not good at encouraging free market competition amongst their own providers.

Delain Law Office, PLLC is a boutique law firm that concentrates in helping inventors, authors and businesses navigate the intellectual property landscape. Thus, the USPTO’s use of only one vendor for any of its mission-critical work is a concern.

For the last 50 years, the USPTO knew of only one vendor capable of meeting the specified requirements for capturing patent data. After a thorough and exhaustive competition process and the execution of a new contract, the USPTO now says they are “…confident that the addition of a new vendor will provide USPTO with the added support it needs to continue to meet or exceed the quality and quantity requirements while also removing the risk of a single point of failure for mission critical work.”

This transition from a single vendor to a dual vendor environment, the USPTO claims, will result in agency cost savings per patent, thus allowing them to advance their work throughout the agency to better serve stakeholders. 

The USPTO claims they encourage competition in business. And, slowly, they are moving toward putting their money where their mouth is. This addition of a competing vendor for patent data capture is one small step; I’d like to see more vendors admitted to the Club.

And I can point to at least one other instance where the USPTO favored one private company to the exclusion of all others, in violation of any government encouragement of free-market competition I’ve ever heard of. Specifically, when they first started their online portal for patent document filing, they REQUIRED a Windows interface on the client (user … my) end. This went on for several years. I, however, was and remain a Mac shop. I therefore was REQUIRED to go out and get a Windows machine (Windows running on Mac did NOT work for this) so I could file patent documents. You better believe I complained about the government favoring one private enterprise over another … and, lo and behold, the USPTO now allows both Windows and Mac to talk to the patent filing system. I do not know whether they allow any other operating system to talk to their filing system; I hope they do.

Upcoming Copyright Office Event on 2/17/2021 to Honor RBG

This should be well worth attending. Sadly, I will miss the live stream, but I look forward to the YouTube event.

From the Copyright Office’s blog post:

“To celebrate Justice Ginsburg’s impact on copyright, join the Copyright Office on February 17 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. eastern time for “Copyright Office Presents: The Enduring Legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” This virtual event will feature a conversation between Paul Goldstein of Stanford Law School and Jane Ginsburg of Columbia Law School on Justice Ginsburg’s jurisprudence. Cohen, West, and Wang will also discuss how Justice Ginsburg inspired their own copyright-protected works. While the advanced registration to attend the Zoom event has closed, the Copyright Office will also live stream the event on its YouTube Channel. No registration is required to view the live stream. If you miss the event, the video will later be available on the Office’s YouTube Channel.”

Inventions are Either Dogs or Cats

Some inventions actually are dogs. You’ve met the dog I’m talking about. It’s that big, friendly, in-your-face, social charmer who wants — nay, needs — to be the center of attention. They wear their hearts on their shoulders (dogs don’t generally wear sleeves) and you know exactly what this dog … of whatever breed … is thinking.

A dog-invention is one that, once introduced, you can reverse engineer. You know what it’s made of, and you know what it does. It becomes clear from tinkering with the invention just exactly how the invention works.

Dog Interacting
Dogs Love to Interact


A dog-invention is something you need a patent to protect. You cannot protect a dog-invention in any other way. For a patent to issue, the best mode of making and using the invention must be disclosed at the time of filing the application for patent. No problem! The dog-invention’s best mode is disclosed when you publish the dog-invention to the world. You can’t hide it; its very nature is to be a big, friendly, in-your-face invention.

Some inventions are cats. You’ve met the cat I’m talking about. It’s that shy, skittish kitty that hides from the world and watches with distrustful eyes as you try to tease it out of its spot. The very last thing it wants in the world is to be the center of attention. It is the diametric opposite of a friendly dog. It is secretive.

Cat In Box
Cats LOVE to hide…


A cat-invention can also be protected by patent, but we need to remember that a patent is an exercise in disclosure, which is the diametric opposite of this cat-invention’s nature; for a patent to issue, the best mode of making and using the invention must be disclosed in the application … which is then published to the public. We also need to remember that a patent’s enforceability is finite; it expires, at most, 20 years from the date you file the application. This cat-invention might be happier, and its profitability could potentially last much longer, if you simply keep it as a trade secret and let it do what cat-inventions do — hide from the world, watching with distrustful eyes as others try to tease it out.

ATTRIBUTION: The dog photo is a free download from (since I don’t have a dog); the original filename is pexels-pixabay-97082.jpg. The cat is a photo of of my class-clown-cat, Linus.


USPTO’s Invention-Con 2020 Is Happening Now

If you’ve invented something, or are even thinking about inventing something, the US Patent and Trademark Office’s 2020 Invention-Con is The Place To Be. It started yesterday (8/20/2020) and continues through tomorrow (8/22/2020). This year’s theme is Your IP: A power tool for building success.

Click one, click all and get your FREE tickets to this premier USPTO event now!