The Business Mentoring Center
The Business Mentoring Center

Corporate Cranium Mentor Articles

Geographical Limitations On Trademark Rights

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | May 3, 2015

A trademark is any word, design, scent, name, sound, or other thing that is capable of distinguishing one person’s or company’s goods from another’s, and indicating that such “branded” goods come from a single source – even if that source is unknown. A service mark is the same as a trademark; the only difference is that a trademark is used upon goods while a service mark is used in connection with services. Examples are Proctor and Gamble’s Crest® mark for toothpaste and Supervalu Inc.’s Cub Foods® mark for retail food...

Read More

The United States Moves to a First to File Patent System

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | February 1, 2015

The Federal Government instituted sweeping changes to United States Patent Law with enactment of the “America Invents Act” a few years back.  One of the most significant changes is a change from a First to Invent system to a First to File system. The old First to Invent system awarded inventors who were first to invent (i.e., conceive of an operable embodiment and diligently work towards a reduction to practice) with the right to seek patent protection for an invention over any and all subsequent inventors who independently invented the...

Read More

Trademarks: Geographical Limitations on Trademark Rights

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | January 1, 2014

A trademark is any word, design, scent, name, sound, or other thing that is capable of distinguishing one person’s or company’s goods from another’s, and indicating that such “branded” goods come from a single source – even if that source is unknown.  A service mark is the same as a trademark; the only difference is that a trademark is used upon goods while a service mark is used in connection with services.  Examples are Proctor and Gamble’s Crest® mark for toothpaste and Supervalu Inc.’s Cub Foods® mark for retail food...

Read More

Changes to United States Patent Law Fees

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | March 1, 2012

The Federal Government instituted sweeping changes to United States Patent Law this past fall with enactment of the “America Invents Act” (“The Act”).  The ten aspects of The Act which will likely have the biggest impact upon small and startup businesses were listed in the January issue of Corporate Cranium.  The first of these aspects is Fees. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a self-funded governmental entity, meaning it operates on the fees charged for its services without use of taxpayer dollars.  Since 1992, the Federal Government...

Read More

Changes to United States Patent Law: Win, Lose or Draw for Small and Startup Businesses

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | January 1, 2012

The Federal Government instituted sweeping changes to United States Patent Law this past fall with enactment of the “America Invents Act”.  While many of the substantive changes do not take effect until fall of 2012, it is important to understand the likely consequences, both intended and unintended, of these changes in order to avoid costly and potentially disastrous surprises in the future. The ten aspects of the America Invents Act which will likely have the biggest impact upon small and startup businesses are listed below.  These enumerated topics will be...

Read More

Chapter 4: When to Patent

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | November 1, 2011

You’ve just come up with an idea for a new product or process or an improvement on an existing product or process.  You’re convinced that if this invention works the way you think it will, you’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams.  You know that you need to patent this invention to prevent competitors from simply copying the idea as soon as it hits the market, but you’ve heard that patenting is expensive – very expensive – and you’ve got a limited R&D budget.  What do you do now? First,...

Read More

Trademarks: How to Establish Secondary Meaning for a Descriptive Term

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | July 1, 2011

To establish trademark rights in a descriptive term the user must be able to prove that in addition to its normal meaning, consumers have come to also recognize the term as a designation of source (i.e., the term has acquired secondary meaning or distinctiveness).  Specifically, it must be shown that the consuming public primarily thinks of the term in association with a single source of the product. The amount and type of evidence necessary to prove secondary meaning varies.  The less descriptive the term, the less evidence needed.  There are...

Read More

Trademarks: When is a Designation a Trademark?

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | May 1, 2011

Trademarks can take many forms, including words, designs, slogans, scents, names, sounds, colors, etc. However, not every such designation is entitled to the status of a trademark and the rights appurtenant to such status.  Such designations, to be entitled to the status of a trademark, must be used in connection with goods or services, must be capable of distinguishing one person’s or company’s goods from another’s, and must be used in such a manner that they indicate that such “branded” goods come from a single source – even if that...

Read More

Chapter 3: Why Patent

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | March 1, 2011

Most business owners are well aware that a United States utility patent is an expensive proposition, costing anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 per invention with no promise or guarantee that a patent will issue on the invention.  However, in many fields, it is virtually impossible to start and maintain a competitive business without them. The United States economy is built upon the principles of a free market system, in which the attainment of high quality, low cost goods and services is driven by competition.  Under such a system, legal monopolies...

Read More

Chapter 2: What is Patentable

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | November 1, 2010

The United States allows inventors to patent “anything under the sun made by man that is useful, novel, and non-obvious.” Made by Man Patent protection can be secured only for subject matter that involves the hand of man.  Discovery of something that exists in nature – while perhaps an important and valuable discovery – cannot be patented.  For example – a chemical compound found in nature is not patentable by the persons who discovered the compound as man was not involved in creating the compound.  However, a concentrated extract of...

Read More

Trademarks: What They Are and Why Would I Need One

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | July 1, 2010

A trademark is any word, design, scent, name, sound, or other thing that is capable of distinguishing one person’s or company’s goods from another’s, and indicating that such “branded” goods come from a single source – even if that source is unknown.  An example is the word Crest® for toothpaste.  Any toothpaste bearing the word Crest® comes from a single source – Proctor and Gamble. A service mark is the same as a trademark, the only difference is that a trademark is used upon goods while a service mark is...

Read More

A Primer on Patents

By Michael Sherrill, Sherrill Law Offices | May 1, 2010

Most Americans are well aware of the existence of a patent system in the United States that “protects” inventions.  It is the nature of that “protection” that is widely misunderstood.  My intent, over the course of these articles, is to provide you with the information necessary to allow you to make an informed decision on whether you should seek a competitive advantage by investing in the patenting of your inventions, or forgo the cost and expense of patenting and compete on price, quality and/or service. Chapter 1:  What is a...

Read More


Sherrill Law Ofice
4756 Banning Ave Ste 212
White Bear Lake, MN 55110-3206
651 426-2400
Email Mark
Website

Mentor Articles by Category