Every week, we are exposed to many trademarked brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Google and AT&T. And, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), there were 629,000 patent and 504,000 trademark applications filed in 2015.
Recent patents have launched well-known, billion-dollar enterprises. For example, Dropbox patented the ability for multiple clients to share and synchronize folders and their contents across a network in 2010. That same year, Square Systems patented the method of swiping credit cards using a mobile phone. And FireEye patented a method of detecting computer viruses in 2005.
The challenge for tech entrepreneurs is determining if a patent is worth the investment. The USPTO defines a patent as “a grant of a property right to the inventor … the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale or selling” an invention. After a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent at his or her own expense.