The Trademark Application Process

I know it has been a while. Things have been a little hectic here at Hurchalla Law, and as such I have neglected my blog. Well, I’m back! And recently, I’ve had A LOT of inquiries about trademarks. So I’d like to veer a little bit away from patents for now, and dip our toes into the world of trademarks.

I don’t want to talk about what a trademark is – I’ve discussed that here. Instead, I want to tell you a little bit about the trademark process and what to expect along the way.

Compared to obtaining a patent, the trademark process is usually easier. Once you’ve decided on your mark, thorough research is done by your attorney to determine if the mark is already in use. If your mark is not in use by someone else, or is determined to not be substantially similar to a mark already in use, an application can begin.

There are two different types of trademark applications, one for marks already being used and one for marks that wish to be used, but have not yet been used (this is called an intent-to-use application). The intent-to-use application is much more involved, lengthy and expensive. This is to prevent people from snatching up catchy names and sitting on them to eventually sell them to someone who wants to actually use it for their business. An intent-to-use application is considered pending until the mark is actually used in commerce and then is converted to an in-use application before it can actually proceed with the registration process. Additionally, an intent-to-use application must be renewed every six months, along with a fee and a statement as to why the mark has not yet been used in commerce. Even after filing your fee and statement, the USPTO may deem that your excuse for not using the mark is unacceptable and refuse to keep your application alive.

So, what does use in commerce actually mean? To the USPTO, this means you are using the mark to advertise/market/identify your goods or services across state lines. This can include product packaging and labeling, brochures, and websites (just to name a few). As part of the application process, for a mark already in use, the USPTO requires that you submit a specimen. A specimen is an example of your mark being used in commerce.

Once your application is submitted, it typically sits in the USPTO office three to four months before being examined. Like a patent, the trademark examiner may reject your application for many reasons – the most common including: it is deemed offensive, deceptive, disparaging or false, OR because the mark is likely to be confused with a mark already registered. If your application is rejected for one of these reasons, your attorney will be given an opportunity to argue why the mark should continue to registration.

If there is no objection from the trademark examiner, however, your mark will move to publication. The mark will publish in the Official Gazette, where people will have a 30-day window in which to object to the mark registering. If no objection is made within that window, the mark will continue to registration – which typically takes 6 to 8 weeks after the publication window has closed. Overall the average time from the submission of your trademark application to your trademark registration is about 6 months to a year.

Did you know? You can obtain a state trademark if your service or goods have not yet crossed state lines!

Do you have a mark for your business, services, or goods that you think needs protection? Call me today to find out and get started with the application process! Hurchalla Law offers flat fees on all trademark applications and stages in trademark prosecution. Until next time, be kind and promote progress!

Tackling Gender Bias

So, I know this seems way off topic from Intellectual Property, but I was asked in August to write an article for the Florida Association of Women Lawyers' Fall and Winter Edition Journal. If you don't know already, I am very active in volunteer bar associations and with the young lawyers' division. In 2016, the Florida Bar YLD released a survey that highlighted gender discrimination that many people did not realize existed in our profession. This year, the Florida Bar has done many things to try to bring awareness to this issue and help move forward with solving this problem. I played a small part by looking at how gender bias is prevalent and dealt with across other professions and drew comparisons to what women lawyers are faced with everyday. 

I'd like to thank the many, many ladies who agreed to be interviewed for this article. Your continued help and support means we move forward and succeed together. 

Please read take the time to read the article below: 

GENDER BIAS ACROSS PROFESSIONS

By: Megan Hurchalla & Ingrid Osborn

2016 is quickly coming to a close, and yet, gender bias, one of the biggest issues we as lawyers have tried to tackle, is still rearing its ugly head.  The Fair Labor Standards Act, which was enacted in 1938, was amended in 1963 to extend to gender – prohibiting unequal pay based on gender.  So why, 53 years later, are we still debating this issue?  Lawyers created the law, but not all seem to be abiding by it.  That begs the question, if we don’t respect our own law, how can other professions?  This article takes a look at how gender bias affects not only the legal profession, but other professions as well.

Megan Hurchalla, one of the co-authors of this article, is a patent and intellectual property attorney, with a previous career in pharmaceutical research and development.  Ingrid Osborn, the other co-author, is a transactional attorney with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Megan was interested in seeing how gender bias was perceived and addressed across different professions. For this article, Megan reached out to several women of varying ages and professions – from teachers and engineers to entertainers at one of the world’s largest amusement parks.  What she found was shocking, to say the least.  The common, underlying thread between all of these women was fear. Many women wished to remain anonymous for the article because of the fear of repercussions from their employers and coworkers.  Fear to stand up and demand that employers follow the law- a law which is supposed to provide protection to women in the workplace.  The results clearly show that as far as we think we have come, we still have so much farther to go.

What exactly is gender bias?

When you mention gender bias, many people think the discussion begins and ends with unequal pay.  However, gender bias extends to so much more than unequal pay.  Before we can understand gender bias, we need to know what bias is.  Merriam-Webster defines bias as “a tendency to believe that some people or ideas are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly.”  The free legal dictionary defines gender bias as, “unequal treatment in employment opportunity (such as promotion, pay, benefits and privileges), and expectations due to attitudes based on the sex of an employee or group of employees.” The McMillan Dictionary defines it as “unfair difference in the treatment of men or women because of their sex.”  As you can see, gender bias focuses on the unequal treatment of an individual as well as attitudes and behavior.

The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyer’s Division (YLD) recently covered gender bias in a survey that sparked outrage and shock in many in the legal community, and thrust this issue into the national spotlight.  It is common knowledge that in most professions, women are paid on average 79 cents on the dollar compared to men.  But as noted above, there is so much more to gender bias than just pay.  Indeed, the YLD survey included almost 90 pages of examples of women lawyers describing discrimination they had experienced. Some of these examples included: discrimination based on being a mother, not being given the same advancement opportunities as men, being drunk dialed or propositioned by male associates and partners, assumptions by clients or opposing counsel that the female in the room is the secretary or court reporter – not an associate or partner on the case. And the list goes on, and on… and on.

 

Does gender bias play a role in non-legal professions?

An example of bias in non-legal professions can be seen in a recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.   In Ernst v. Chicago, Nos. 14-3783, 15-2030, 2016 WL 4978377, *1 (7th Cir. Sept. 19, 2016), Stacy Ernst and four other women applied unsuccessfully to work as Chicago paramedics.  Each of the women was an experienced paramedic from public and private providers of emergency medical services.  All five women were denied jobs because they failed Chicago’s physical-skills entrance exam, after which they commenced a Title VII gender-discrimination lawsuit against the City of Chicago.  See Ernst,  2016 WL 4978377 at *1.  After losing a bench trial on their disparate impact claims, and a jury trial on their disparate treatment claims, they appealed. See id. at *2.  On appeal, the court considered statistics relating to the physical skills test used by the Chicago Fire Department which showed that 98% of men passed the test, while only 60% of women passed.  After a thorough discussion of the validity of the tests, the court ultimately determined that the various skills tested were not related to any actual skills needed to perform paramedic duties.  See id. at *5-*13.  As a result, the court held that the plaintiffs should have prevailed on their disparate impact claims, and that the district court erred in its jury instructions on the disparate treatment claims.  The court remanded the disparate treatment claims for a new trial, and reversed the disparate impact trial verdict with instructions to enter judgment in the plaintiffs’ favor.  See id. at *13-14.

Some less obvious examples are also evident in the teaching profession as well as the entertainment industry.  Although most parents respect their children’s teachers, some view them as a step above a babysitter in the earlier grades.  Teaching is a high skilled profession dominated by women.  However, teaching is not compensated as a high skill job.  Teachers’ salaries are at least 40% lower than other professions requiring college degrees.[1]  Is this because IT IS dominated by women?  Research seems to say yes.  Studies show that pre-school teachers earn less than elementary school teachers; while elementary school teachers earn less than high school teachers.[2]  The percentage of male teachers increases at the high school level.[3]

Additionally, an interview with several teachers for this article revealed several disturbing facts about gender bias.  All of the teachers interviewed for this article commented, separately, that the male teachers’ opinions were given greater weight even if the male teacher had less experience or was in a lower level position.  At the supervisory level, a female administrator with purchasing power has stated that she often runs into issues when she attends sales presentations.  If she brings along a few of the male teachers that she oversees, the salesperson pitches to the men and ignores her altogether.  This should be unacceptable.  With the vast majority of the teaching profession dominated by females, it should not be a surprise that many supervisors are female.  They should be acknowledged and treated with the respect owed to that position, regardless of gender.

Similar to female teachers, female teacher-coaches are often not recognized for their effort with their teams the same way male coaches are. One surveyed female teacher-coach indicated the male teachers and administrators in her school did not even acknowledge her, or the players on her team after going undefeated for an entire season.  This behavior reinforces to the young female generation that no matter how well they excel in a certain area, they should not be surprised or disappointed that their contributions are not going to be recognized. 

Just as with the legal, paramedic and teaching professions, men also dominate the media.  According to a San Diego State University study, men hold 85% of film director positions, 80% of writer positions, and 33% of producer positions.[4]These numbers do not even include female speaking roles and female screen presence.  In 2014, out of the top 100 films, only 21 had a female lead or co-lead. This trend is not due to a lack of women interested in the TV industry. Indeed, research shows that men and women graduate from the top U.S. film schools at nearly equal rates. However, there appears to be a lack of people willing to give female directors a chance. According to a University of California 2015 study, the top executives at major Hollywood film studios are 94 % white, and 100% male.[5]

Are women worth more in non-legal professions?

The most widely recognized gender bias issue is pay parity. This year, Equal Pay Day was recognized on April 12, 2016. This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.  In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed, amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which allows unfair pay complaints to be filed within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck.  It is unfortunate that we still need laws like this. However, not only are women paid less for the same positions, but they are also less likely to be promoted.  A recent study by Cass Business school found that when men and women ask for pay raises, 25% more men than women actually get them.[6]  Another study by the Cass Business school found that 40% more men are likely to be promoted than women eligible for the same promotion.  This study concluded by saying that it will take us 118 years to close the wage gap between men and women.[7]  That is simply too long.

Some companies are trying to pave the way and set an example by making sure they provide equal pay.  A Wall Street Journal article indicated that tech companies such as Apple (99.6%), Microsoft (99.8%), Amazon (99.9%), Intel (100%), and Facebook (100%) pay their male and female employees equally, or very close to the same.[8]  Salesforce.com Inc., spent about $3 million in 2015 raising salaries of female employees to reach pay equality.[9]  These companies recognize that women possess as much potential and talent as men, and, in order to attract and retain these talented individuals, the company needs to provide equal pay.  

Apple, however, has worked on closing the gender gap not only by assessing pay, but they have also looked at the number of women and other minorities so that new hires help to close the gender and diversity gaps.  Additionally, last year, Apple analyzed the salaries of their U.S. employees and made a point to close any gaps in pay that they found. This included looking at salary, bonuses, and other forms of compensation.  Apple has released a statement that they will be looking to close the same gaps in their company worldwide this upcoming year.

Women are not necessarily worth more in non-legal professions.  Some professions have simply started to close the gap faster and sooner than the legal profession.  This is a great start, and Apple and all the other companies should be commended for their work in trying to close the gender gap and maintaining pay equity.  Unfortunately, that is just the start of what we need. We can’t just stop at equal pay; we need to demand equal treatment.  We need to address issues of how women are actually treated in the work place, and other issues such as maternity and family leave.  We don’t want to celebrate Equal Pay Day.  We don’t want to have to enforce our rights under the Lilly Ledbetter Act.  We don’t want to need the services of the National Equal Pay Task Force.  Women deserve equal treatment. Together, we must rid our society of injustice…one step at a time.

What can you do when faced with gender bias?

A study conducted by LeanIn.org indicates that the workforce has nearly equal number of men and women at the entry level, but the gap widens as workers are promoted.[10] The study uncovered some of the reasons why women aren't advancing as quickly as men:

·         They are more likely to be ignored at meetings, with 74% of men "able to participate meaningfully" compared to 67% of women.

·         They are less likely to get challenging assignments. While 68% of men have taken on the toughest tasks, only 62% of women get that opportunity.

·         They are less likely to be consulted for input on important decisions.  While 63% of men are asked to share their thoughts, only 56% of women are.

The LeanIn study also showed that inequality at home is another subtle factor at play.  For women who share housework equally with a partner, 43% aspire to become a senior executive at their job.  But only 34% of women who do a majority of the housework aspire to be a senior executive.

There is also an ambition gap.  According to the LeanIn study, while 80% of men desire a promotion, only 74% of women do.  Overall, 56% of men say they aspire to become a top executive, while only 40% of women desire the same goal.

Unfortunately, it is not a matter of if, but of when you will be faced with gender bias.  In fact, we shouldn’t wait to address the issue until it happens (or after you realize it has been happening to you!), as it is clear that women face an uneven playing field.  Although progress has been made in the past couple of years, there’s still a lot more to do. We need to take action now.

Whether in a legal or non-legal profession, education is important.  It is important too that supervisors are educated on this issue. Examples should be set from the top down. Supervisors need to encourage change in their own firms, practices, and schools.  Additionally, women need to be able to set their fears aside and be able to address gender bias when they are faced with it.

As Florida Bar’s immediate past President Ramon Abadin indicated in a presentation last fall, we should elevate, promote and encourage each other.  We need to close our own ambition gap.  But how? According to Laura Rosenbury, the Dean of the University of Florida’s Law School, there are at least three things you can do to overcome and still succeed with sometimes subtle implicit bias.

First, understand the role of a sponsor.  Get one and/or be one when the opportunity presents. A sponsor is more than just a mentor.  It is someone that puts their reputation on the line to advocate for you and to support you in your endeavors to get ahead.  This can be in the form of a client referral, a suggestion that the next big work assignment is given to you, a great employment reference, or simply letting someone else know of your accomplishments.

Second, increase your ability to think creativelyabout gender and the role it plays in negotiations, self-promotion, and gaining influence in your organization.  When negotiating a promotion or a salary in your new job, show the organization why they should pay you more. Not just because you are worth it and you are a woman, but because it is beneficial to the organization if they want to stay at the top of the list, i.e. in order to compete with the top 10 firms they should pay you what those firms pay.

Finally, understand the unwritten rules of your organization and learn to navigate them and ultimately lead them.  Don’t sit back and think you are not ready or well prepared to move up the ranks.  Believe in yourself.  Sit at the head of the table in the boardroom.

Although the days of overt sexism are largely over, gender bias is still alive and well, and it exists in every profession.  Although we’ve made great strides, the studies discussed in this article show we still have a ways to go.  Until we’ve closed the gender gap, we will have to keep forging ahead, and, as Dory would say “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

To obtain copies of the studies discussed in this article, please reach out to Megan Hurchalla  at megan@hurchallalaw.com, and Ingrid Osborn at ingrid.osborn@hud.gov.

Endnotes:

 

 

[1] Carnevale, Anthony, Cheah, Ban & Hanson, Andrew (2015). Value of College Majors.  https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/valueofcollegemajors/#full-report

[2] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm

[3] How Gender Bias Affects Teachers’ Salaries. http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/08/16/how-gender-bias-affects-teachers-salaries/

[4] Lauzen, Martha M. (2016). Boxed In 201516: Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes in Television. http://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/files/2015-16-Boxed-In-Report.pdf

[5] 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report: Flipping the Script. http://www.bunchecenter.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015-Hollywood-Diversity-Report-2-25-15.pdf

[6] Artz, Benjamin, Goodall, Amanda & Oswald. Andrew J. (2016). Do Women Ask? http://www.cassknowledge.com/sites/default/files/article-attachments/gender-women-ask2016.pdf

[7] The World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2015, http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2015/

[8] Wells, Georgia (2016). Facebook, Microsoft Say They Offer Equal Pay to Women, Men http://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-microsoft-say-they-offer-equal-pay-to-women-men-1460466005

[9] Fortune Global Forum, http://fortune.com/2016/03/08/salesforce-equal-pay/

[10] LeanIn.org, (2015). Women in the Workplace 2015, http://leanin.org/news-inspiration/women-in-the-workplace-2015/

Starting the Patent Application Process

At this point you may have decided that your idea is probably patentable, and you would like to move forward with obtaining a patent. So, what’s next? A patent application. Okay, great! Pretty straightforward… Well, not really. Let’s explore what actually goes into the application process.

Now, before I go on, I want to caution you. Hiring a patent attorney may seem expensive, overwhelming, or daunting; however, we have years of training and even have to sit for a special bar examination before the United States Patent and Trademark Office to demonstrate our understanding and application of the various, nuanced patent laws. A recent article, published in April, demonstrates the low success rate of someone filing an application on their own behalf, versus hiring a patent attorney (read that article here).

Not intimidated yet? Ok, the first thing that goes into a patent application is a simple search. Typically, the first thing a patent attorney will do is a simple google search to see if your invention or idea is already out there. It is highly unusual to not find something at least related to your idea or invention. Next, what is called a prior art search will be performed. This involves searching for specialty keywords and classifications which can be found through the USPTO, to lead the practitioner to patents and any other publications that may be related to your idea or invention. Patents can be searched directly through the USPTO, as well as various other patent related sites. Additionally, there are companies that specialize in prior art searches. Beware, the cheaper the cost these companies are, the less quality results you should expect to receive. Not to say that paying $5,000 is going to find you more or better information than a $2,000 search would return. But, if you plan to hire a company, you should budget for at least $1,000 and expect to pay closer to $1,500 or $2,000 for a good quality search.

After your searches have been completed, the next step is acquiring drawings. The USPTO requires drawings as part of the patent application, and these drawings have to meet certain specifications outlined in their manual. Again, you will find several companies that specialize in only patent drawings. As far as budgeting for patent drawings, well that depends. It depends on how involved the drawings need to be, how many drawings you need, and what kind of information you’re already able to provide the company with.  Most companies will give you an estimate of the cost before they perform the work. It is also advisable to find a company that will work with you over the phone and not charge you for reworking the drawings. This way you can more accurately explain what you need shown in your drawings, as well as if something isn’t quite precise when you receive the drawings back, they will fix it for you as a part of your overall payment. Make sure, if you hire a company, that you have them number your drawings according to USPTO specifications. This is important in the application process because you will be required to reference your drawings and various elements of your invention by number in the actual specification portion of the application.

 

Only once these steps have been completed are you then ready to proceed with putting together your actual application. In our next installment, I will discuss that actual pieces of a patent application and how everything I’ve talked about today fits in to what you will need to file in the USPTO. Feeling overwhelmed or have questions about anything in today’s post? Contact me! Until next time, be kind and promote progress, don’t stifle it! 

Is my idea or invention patentable?

So you have an idea, or perhaps you’ve already created something. Awesome! But now you may be wondering, “Is my idea patentable?”

Whether or not your invention is patentable is governed by 35 U.S.C. §101 (Chapter 35 of the United States Code, Section 101). In essence if you invent or discover a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter than you may be entitled to a patent.

When applying for a patent, the first thing the examiner will look at is if you have met the requirement for 35 U.S.C. §101 – it is also known as the utility requirement. Typically, this is the easiest element to meet.  Additionally, 35 U.S.C. §101 has been expanded in the law through 35 U.S.C. §102 and 35 U.S.C. §103. The latter two sections expand on the language “new” mentioned in 35 U.S.C. §101. 35 U.S.C. §102 requires that your invention be new/novel, while 35 U.S.C. §103 requires an invention to be nonobvious.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking, “That’s an awfully lot of law that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.” But that’s ok! As long as you think you have invented something that has a use, it is new (has never been invented or discovered before) and is not obvious (you have found a unique solution to your problem that other people also seeking solutions to the same problem probably would not have thought of) – then your idea may be patentable, and it’s time to give me a call!

Don’t forget, that just because an idea or invention may not be patentable does not mean that it might not be able to be protected by another form of intellectual property such as a trademark, copyright or trade secret. Contact me so we can explore other ways to protect your idea or invention! Additionally, many people believe that they cannot bring their item to market because they don’t have a patent. Just because your idea may not be patentable does not mean you can’t still market and sell it, and in some cases be extremely profitable. Finally, just because you have a patent on your item doesn’t guarantee that your patented product will make you a millionaire either. A patent is simply a means of protecting your property, not a way to make money with your invention.

Now that I’ve figured out my idea or invention may qualify for a patent how do I go about the patent application process? Well, stay tuned for our next installment! Until then – be kind, and promote progress, don’t stifle it. 

What is a patent?

There are 4 areas of intellectual property: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. We will work our way through the logistics of each, so that you understand the differences and similarities and can figure out which area is best suited for your needs. So let’s begin with patents.

Patents are probably the most talked about, most focused on area of intellectual property. But, what exactly is a patent? A patent is a federally granted and recognized right to exclude others from making and using your invention without your consent. Essentially the federal government grants the patent holder a limited monopoly right in exchange for information. The federal government requires the patent applicant to describe in detail exactly what the invention is and the best way to make and/or use the invention.

There are several types of patents; utility, design, and plant. The utility patent is the most common. In 2015, the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) received 629.647 patent applications – of those 589,410, or roughly 93.6%, were utility applications. Design applications made up 6.2%, and plant applications made up the remaining 0.2%.

The requirements for a utility patent are that it must be useful, novel/new, nonobvious, and include a full disclosure on how to make and use the invention. Each of these requirements will be discussed more in depth in a later blog post, so stay tuned for that information! A utility patent protects an invention that has some sort of use whether that use is something like holding your hair out of your face (a hair-tie or barrette) or to provide entertainment (such as a television or even a slot machine) and anything in between. A utility patent has a length of protection of 20 years from the filing date.

A design patent, on the other hand, only has a length of protection of 14-15 years (depending on when the application was filed). A design patent protects the aesthetic aspects of an article of manufacture. For example, the specific design of a sofa, or the aesthetic aspects of a piece of jewelry. Finally, a plant patent has a length of 20 years – just like a utility patent. The requirements of a plant patent include: it must be a new plant that can be asexually reproduced, must not be a tuber (essentially an underground stem of a plant – the most commonly known type is a potato). Additionally, though not technically required by the USPTO, but required in actual practice are colored drawings of the plant.

More about drawings will be discussed in the upcoming blog post about the patent application process. Until then, be kind and promote progress – don’t stifle it.www.hurchallalaw.com

 

An Introduction to Intellectual Property

I don’t know about you, but I’m not great with understanding abstract concepts. I need something tangible to grasp on to. Well, that’s the aim of intellectual property law. Intellectual property law is designed to protect abstract things like ideas, expressions, and the like by making sure they are in a tangible form.

Still a little complicated right? Let me break it down for you. One of my first intellectual property professors gave my class this hypothetical, which put intellectual property and its protection into a means I could understand, and I hope it does the same for you.

Now just follow me for a minute and it will all come together. Let’s say you have a plot of land and on this land you want to grow something. In my hypothetical we plant an orange grove (Hey! We are in Florida, after all!). Well, from the trees we get oranges. But this land is open and not protected. Anybody can come onto my land and steal the oranges, the trees, or even the nutrient dense dirt used to grow my trees. So how should we protect it? Well there are several options, some offer better protection than others, while others are less expensive but may not afford our land as much protection. The first thing I think of is, let’s put up a fence. Well, that could get expensive. We want a tall fence that won’t have any holes or gaps in it. Something strong enough to keep people out for a good long time. This is a lot of protection and may have a price tag. Another option would be to hire a rent-a-cop. Maybe not as expensive, but people could slip through the gaps as he’s making his rounds. I’ll discuss both of these protection scenarios in a later post, so remember these!

So how does this tie into Intellectual Property, you ask. Well, think of the land as your idea, and from your idea you get something tangible to trade in commerce – your oranges or your trees. Intellectual Property Law is the fence that you put up around your idea to keep it safe. Intellectual Property aims to protect your idea by keeping others from being able to use it without your consent. Intellectual Property Law requires a tangible form of your idea (the oranges) to protect and not just the idea itself (the land). Intellectual property protects your idea by protecting the tangible form of your idea.

I hope this gives you clarity on what exactly intellectual property law is and how to better understand the basic policy behind it. Next, we will dive into the different areas of intellectual property. Until then – be kind and promote progress, don’t stifle it!

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! Here I’ll walk you through all aspects of Intellectual Property law and how it applies to your situation. But first! A little bit about myself and my firm. My name is Megan, and ten years ago, if you had told me I’d not only end up as an attorney but I’d also own my own firm I’d have you Baker Acted (a little legal humor, lol) – or tell you that you were crazy.

My dream as a child was to become a doctor, so I went to a small liberal arts college in Western Maryland, McDaniel College. This school has a higher rate of students into John’s Hopkins Medical Program than John’s Hopkins own undergrads! Perfect! Well, all my life I had wanted this – I put the blinders on and just went for it. When I graduated from undergrad and the reality of medical school was upon me, I realized that maybe that wasn’t what I wanted at all. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

So what happens when you realize you have no idea what you want to do? You cling to the one thing you WANT to do – and I wanted to move to Florida. So, I packed my things, moved, and have never looked back. Living in my area of Florida is like being on vacation every day. We are close to the beach and the bay. It’s always sunny and warm, and there are palm trees everywhere! I never get tired of admiring the palm trees.

But now I’m in Florida, so then what? I landed a job in a small pharmaceutical company heading up their microbiology department. I slowly worked my way into quality control and research and development, as well. It was there that I realized my passion for creating things and learning how to protect what we were creating. I was also putting in extremely long hours and not necessarily loving what I was doing. Luckily for me, there is a law school in my town – Stetson University College of Law. I thought “What the heck? I’ll apply, see what happens.”

I decided when I applied to Stetson that would be the only school I applied to. If I didn’t get in then law school wasn’t meant to be, but I did get in! And I was able to pursue my passion for helping creative people protect what’s rightfully theirs even though it may be abstract – Intellectual Property. I took every intellectual property class Stetson had to offer and sat for the Patent bar exam to be registered to practice patent law before the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

When I graduated and passed the bar (on the first try, YAY!), I realized that no one in my area practiced the type of law I wanted to practice – Intellectual Property with a focus on medical and pharmaceutical applications.  I didn’t want to settle and end up in the same position I was in while I was working for the pharmaceutical company – doing something I enjoyed but not necessarily passionate about to justify the long hours. So, I decided that I’d start my own firm, and Hurchalla Law was born! While I prefer to focus on medical and pharmaceutical applications, I don’t hesitate to take on any intellectual property matter a client has – so if you’re seeking help in another field, I can still help!

But first you’re probably wondering, well ok – we’ve heard enough about you; what is intellectual property already, and why should I care? Well, I’m going to have to leave you in suspense for the moment, as that is a different post for a different day. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know me, and I look forward to getting to know you, dear reader. Until next time, be kind and promote progress, don’t stifle it!