Do I need a patent, a trademark or a copyright?

Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are categories of intellectual property rights, each with its own form of protection:

Patents protect the way a device works (a utility patent would protect for example the mechanism by which your car brakes operate) or the appearance of a useful object (a design patent would protect for example the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle).  Patents are protected through a patent grant from the government, as opposed to trademarks and copyrights which, for the most part, are protected to an extent without the absolute need for a government registration.  Patents confer a negative right, which allows a patent holder to prevent others from making, using, offering for sale, or importing an invention, but does not confer the rights to make or use an invention on the patent holder.

A trademark or service mark protects the association of a mark identifying the source of the good(s) or service(s).  Trademarks occur in a variety of forms, from traditional trademarks such as brand names or designs to non-traditional trademarks such as colors or shapes.  Actual product configurations can be protected as trade dress if the features are non-functional and have come to identify the source of the good.  Trade dress protection can overlap with design patent protection.  Common law trademark protection typically arises from use of a trademark.  However, obtaining a Federal trademark registration serves to perfect the protection and provides a registrant with nationwide constructive priority of use.

A copyright protects an artistic expression of an idea.  Copyright generally means what the name implies–it protects against copying.  For example, a copyright in a photograph of a mountain protects that specific photograph of the mountain.  Copyright does not protect against another going to the exact spot the photograph was taken and trying to take a similar photograph.  Thus copyright protects the individual artistic expression embodied in the first photograph, but not the idea of taking a photograph of the mountain.  A copyright springs into existence whenever copyrightable material is affixed to a tangible medium of expression (for example, when a digital photograph is saved or when a new audio tune is recorded).  However, a copyright registration provides the registrant with the ability to choose statutory damages in lieu of actual damages (which can be difficult and expensive to prove) and with an easier opportunity to collect attorneys fees in the event of a lawsuit.

Resources for Inventors

Inventor Resources

Would you like to be listed in one of these categories? Contact us!

NOTE: The below list contains resources available to Idaho inventors that Shaver & Swanson, LLP is aware of. The services on this list have not been confirmed, endorsed, or guaranteed by Shaver & Swanson, LLP, and the list is merely provided as a courtesy to these resources and Idaho inventors.

Business Development

  • Idaho Small Business Development Center assists people in getting their technology-related business up and running. Contact Rick Ritter at (208) 426-6613.
  • WayPoint Management Group, LLC – According to WayPoint, “Once the product development and patent stages have been completed WayPoint can provide your management team with the strategic and operational support required to create a high performance organization capable of tracking a high growth curve and capturing each product’s full profit potential.” Randy M. Kyrias (208) 841-7080 E-Mail:

Graphic Artists/Designers & Computer Aided Drafting

  • Richard L. Dierks — computer aided design and drafting; solid modeling. E-mail: Richard L. Dierks,
    (208) 378-9635.
  • Gizmos & Gadgets CAD Service–solid modeling and 3D drawings. E-mail: Michael Jones, (208) 344-0435.
  • ProtoQuill — patent graphic compilation. E-mail: Val Johnson
  • Stephanie Inman — graphic design + hand lettering. website
  • Leo Geis ( – Technical Photography: Forensically defensible and extreme grade product imaging. Macrophotography (small objects and details). Time-lapse photography and macrophotography. 360-degree photography and macrophotography. Hyperspectrual (infrared, ultraviolet) imaging. Thermography. (208) 344-7410

Engineering Consulting

  • Tech Help – Idaho Manufacturing Specialists, Provide assistance in design, manufacturing, and new product development. (208) 426-3767. email
  • Rapid Pro – Product Design and Manufacturing, Provide engineering, design, prototyping, and manufacturing assistance. Based in Longmont, Colorado. Free consultation. Phone number: (970) 535-0550.
  • Inventure Engineering, LLC, Tony Senn, PE, Mechanical Engineering, design and prototyping. 3D solid modeling, CNC and manual machining, welding and fabrication. (208) 863-6033,
  • AirTrack Electronics Corp. — Provides services in product development, including design, prototyping, CAD/CAM, reverse engineering, and complete turn-key service, as well as product and process enhancement, including troubleshooting, cost reduction, design for manufacturability, and statistical experimental design. Contact: Cliff Seusy, P.E. PH. (208) 375-4004, Fax (208) 375-5445 or e-mail:
  • Leo Geis – Software Development for Persuasive Applications. Public relations/education campaigns. Litigation presentations & exhibits. Critical instruction (e.g. medical compliance). Mobile device instruction, instructional games, and testing. Mobile device time and/or geographic position-sensitive
    applications. (208) 344-7410
  • Benchmark Research & Safety, Inc. ( is a human factors and ergonomics consulting firm that specializes in providing consulting and professional services in the following areas: product safety; warnings development & evaluation (on-product & manuals); research (design, ethnographic, perceptual); and usability & user-centered design. Contact Eric Shaver at 208-407-2908 or via email.

Marketing Resources

    • CuriousMedia — Provides:
        1. Corporate Identity development
        2. Marketing Strategy
        3. Advertising
        4. Concept development
        1. Design for print, web, CD and DVD
        2. Illustration
        3. Animation
        4. Video editing
        5. CD and DVD development
        6. Desktop applications
        7. Web applications
        8. Photography
        9. Packaging design
        10. Print management
        11. Writing: copy
    • Guy Rome and Associates, Inc.–marketing (television, radio and print), design (outdoor, direct mail/marketing, and point-of-sale), media (packaging, corporate identity, and collateral material), and other services (sales promotions, public relations, and strategic planning). (208) 345-4143.
    • Catapult3–displays, fixtures and banners. (208) 384-5220.
  • Applied Marketing Group –provides consulting to businesses and individuals for marketing purposes. (208) 362-6611

Prototypes, Machining & Plastics

  • Quintex Corporation — Plastic molding services. Contact: Michael Dawson. (208) 442-1999.
  • RPM Machine, Inc.–CNC milling & turning, prototype & production, molds & EDM, CAD-CAM system, semiconductor equipment, and circuit board tooling. (208) 887-7770.
  • Adaptive Technologies–a plastic injection molder, who designs and manufactures plastic parts, models, assembly tooling and molds. They can be a turnkey source for entire assemblies or supply raw parts. They offer project management resources as well as sourcing for other types of manufacture. Contact: Bruce LaVassar. PH. (208) 467-1000, Fax (208) 467-1039 or e-mail:
  • RMI-I — Plastic fabrication and finishing. (208) 377-3686
  • AirTrack Electronics Corp. — Provides services in product development, including design, prototyping, CAD/CAM, reverse engineering, and complete turn-key service, as well as product and process enhancement, including troubleshooting, cost reduction, design for manufacturability, and statistical experimenta design. Contact: Cliff Seusy, P.E. PH. (208) 375-4004, Fax (208) 375-5445 or e-mail:


  • Randy M. Kyrias. (208) 841-7080
  • Rick Ritter, Technology Services Consultant, Idaho Small Business Development Center. (208) 426-6613,

Local Organizations

  • Idaho Technology Council – “The Idaho Technology Council exists to connect, inform and promote the technology companies in Idaho and is dedicated to foster the growth of technology companies in the state, primarily in the areas of information technology, agriscience, and energy.  The ITC provides a valuable forum for industry, research, educators, investors, and government throughout the state.  The ITC advocates for creating a strong, innovative technology ecosystem and a high quality, high paid workforce.”

Useful Intellectual Property Resorces

Mr. Shaver’s Bicycle Technology Blog
Mr. Shaver’s Outdoor Technology Blog
Mr. Shaver’s History of Technology Blog

USPTO/Library of Congress

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Home Page
USPTO Patents Home Page
USPTO Trademarks Home Page
U.S. Copyright Office Home Page

Google Patent Search
IBM Intellectual Property Network
Searching Online U.S. Copyright Office Records


FindLaw Case Law Federal Circuit

FindLaw Idaho
Idaho State Bar
Idaho Secretary of State
Idaho Trademark Forms
Boise Public Library
ID State Law Library

U of I Library
BSU Library
Ada Community Library
Law Dictionary
Google Language Translator


U.S. Customs Service Official Web Site

Markets & investing Currencies
Currency Converter


National Inventor Fraud Center

How to keep an inventor’s notebook

If I want to keep an inventor’s notebook (or “log book”), what should be in it?

  • The record of the invention should be sufficiently detailed to allow a person who is of average skill in the art to read it and understand the entire invention. Always relate critical details, such as specific frequencies, dimensions, etc. Include sketches, photos, blueprints, printouts, data plots, and other pertinent information.
  • Make sure that these things are integrated into a notebook and organized.
  • Make the disclosure clear, definite and well organized. It should be easy to read and follow.
  • The record should be made contemporaneously with the activities being recorded.
  • Use a bound notebook with numbered pages, always write in ink, strike mistakes out with a single line, do not leave blank pages, and store the notebook in a safe, dry place. Keep your notebook away from food, drinks and your dog.
  • Include records of failures as well as successes. Explain why you think you failed, as well as why you think you succeeded.
  • Have your records read by two other people who are not co-inventors and preferably who do not have an interest in the invention. Each person should state, in writing, that they have read and understood the foregoing disclosure, then sign and date their statements.
  • The general format of the notebook should include a statement of the problem which you are trying to solve, your proposed solution, all problems encountered, your final solution, possible uses, possible modifications, other possible solutions, and any other areas of interest or significance.
  • Avoid statements such as “I thought the obvious solution was to try X, so that’s why we did.” What you think of as being obvious or simply applying a well known solution in a slightly different manner may not be obvious in the eyes of the patent law. Such a statement might possibly be used to defeat any patent which is subsequently granted.
  • Specific guidelines:
    • Include descriptions of all equipment used;
    • Include results, photos, printouts, charts, plots, etc.;
    • Include conclusions, problems encountered, possible modifications and potential applications;
    • State when and where the experiment was carried out;
    • State the names of all people present and all who contributed and participated; and
    • Include test data sufficient to demonstrate that the invention worked.

Literature Resources for Inventors

Resources for Inventors:

Patent It Yourself, by David Pressman (hyperlink to Amazon)

“From Invention to Innovation” (hyperlink to web address)

“How to Protect and Benefit from Your Ideas” (hyperlink to web address)

The Art of the Start, by Guy Kawasaki (hyperlink to preview of book)

Stand Alone Inventor, Robert G. Merrick (link to Amazon)

The Four Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferris (link