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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Welcome to Bold Patent Live Q&A. I’m your host J.D. Houvener with our very first ukulele interlude. I hope you enjoyed that. You might have seen it up there on my shelf. I don’t pick it up too often, so I did practice that little interlude for a bit. I am a patent attorney, believe it or not, and I’m the owner here at Bold Patents Law Firm. I’m your host here every Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. Pacific, noon on the East Coast, and, of course, all those in between the time zones. We welcome everyone – entrepreneurs, business owners, inventors, people just curious about what patent law is all about. I welcome all of that.

I do offer a quick disclaimer. This is not a legal consultation, unfortunately. So, we encourage you not to share confidential personal subject matter on this channel or this live broadcast. I welcome hypotheticals, process-based questions. I want you to bring those on. I’m excited. I’ve got two awesome guests – rockstars within our law firm here at Bold Patents. They volunteered to make time for you and to just share their story about what got them into the law, what it’s like working at Bold Patents, and answer any questions that you’ve got as we move along.

Again, I’m J.D. Houvener, owner here at the law firm, and I’m here every Wednesday. So, know that this is not a legal consult, but we are going to go through live Q&A. So, I will feature those live questions first. We’ve got a bit of an agenda, so I’ll put this up here for you to look at. We did the introduction already. If you missed that, please do rewind – those are my ukulele skills in the making. If you are here from AVO, ava.com, I do have six questions with me. We probably won’t get to all six of those, and I get to those at the very end. So, if you are in a hurry and you want to just fast forward to the segment and you’re watching after the fact, feel free to do that. That’s what we’ll be getting to those available questions.

And then, we’ll offer a free screening session in just a minute here. For those of you that are inventors right out there thinking about inventing, I’m not sure if it’s the right moment, if this is the time to move forward with this new project – you know you’re tired of seeing your ideas you tell friends about show up on the shelves a year later and you want to take action. I’m going to reward you for doing that. I’m going to give you a copy of this book right behind me – Bold Ideas: The Inventor’s Guide to Patents. You’ll get a PDF downloadable version for taking action, and we have a free screening session where we’re going to qualify you and make sure that you’re a good fit, help you think through, “Hey, is this the right time for moving forward with an invention or a brand – whatever it is you’ve got going in your business.” So, that is the link I just put in the comments. Click the link and get scheduled today to speak with one of our non-attorney advisors. They’ll take your information down, and if now is the right time, they will introduce you to one of our patent attorneys that will do the consultation for you and do a deep dive, learn about your invention, and get you some advice moving forward.

Okay, I’m going to skip right ahead to our guests. We have two wonderful guests, and I’m going to feature Huda. Huda Alzheimer is a patent attorney. She’s our managing attorney here at Bold Patents Soho. Welcome to the program.

Huda: Thank you, JD. Happy to be here.

JD: Happy to have you. Thank you for being so brave to come on. You’ve been working together for what – four years, five years now?

Huda: Yes, at least. Since 2017.

JD: Yeah, well, and so first of all, thank you for that and for helping all those inventors. I want to take it back a little bit because some people don’t really understand what goes into becoming a patent attorney. And it seems like, with you for sure, and most patent attorneys, there’s kind of a bit of a meandering path. And it’s what led you to this career choice. Can you walk us through how you got into that and a bit of your background there?

Huda: Absolutely. Yes, well, I was born and raised in Texas, and I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I didn’t really want to stray far for college, so I stayed in Dallas and attended Southern Methodist University. In my undergrad, I studied mechanical engineering with a specialization in environmental engineering. I really enjoyed engineering. It was a very interesting program, but I always had an interest in the law.

Law school is a graduate program, so after graduating from college with my Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, I decided to take that plunge and went to law school. In law school, I became familiar and learned that there actually is a niche area of the law for individuals who have an engineering or a science or a technical background, and that you can combine that with the law to represent individuals who are seeking patents. You can become a patent attorney. You need to have both the engineering and technical and scientific background as well as the legal background.

Once I completed law school, I took two bars. It’s an added level of challenge for attorneys because I took the Texas State Bar – unfortunately, that was fine and passed and everything, and then also studied for the patent bar, which is a separate type of bar to show that you understand the complexities and the ins and outs of patent law and what’s required to represent individuals who are seeking patents.

So, I have been practicing patent law for 14 years. In addition, I went back to law school because I wanted to get even a broader understanding of intellectual property, not just patents. I have a Master’s in Law called an LLM in Intellectual Property Law from the University of Houston. I was fortunate to be able to delve also into the world of trademarks significantly and get a better understanding also of copyright law and trade secrets and some other elements that make up intellectual property law. Intellectual property law covers a myriad of topics. Patent law is one section of that whole group of intellectual property law. So, patents are a type of property. They are an asset to our clients, and just like real estate is a type of property that you can buy and sell and license or rent out as needed, you can do that with patents.

It’s really fascinating that the U.S. Constitution has had it since it was first written that inventors should be rewarded for their time and effort, and they should be granted a patent if they have something that’s new and significant. So, it’s great that our system embraces innovation and contributing in such a positive way. I’ve always just been a very curious person. I love learning a little bit about everything. I think that explains my trajectory going into engineering, then law, and then doing another master’s. I’m just that way. And so, I think that’s what’s fascinating about this area – that it also promotes innovation and improving in as many different areas as possible.

So, that’s just a brief snapshot. I currently, as you mentioned, am managing the office here in New York City, which covers the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut areas. We have a great team of attorneys. I enjoy being able to help our clients and learning about their various inventions, their projects, what their aspirations are, and being able to provide them with the best advice and representation to meet those goals.

JD: That’s awesome. Thanks, Huda. I was curious – did you ever want to be an astronaut? Because environmental engineering and mechanical engineering, I mean, were you going that route?

Huda: It’s funny you mentioned that. When I was growing up, I always had an interest in the space program. It was very fascinating. I think a lot of kids grow up thinking about, “Oh, what would be cool to do?” And of course, the concept of being an astronaut would be amazing. That would be a dream job. But I was not really as focused on that as I was just on enjoying learning about the space program and seeing how it’s evolved over the years.

JD: That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. I have one more question for you. It’s just curious to me – after working in this field for so long, is there a type of invention or a category that you find most interesting, or does it just keep changing for you?

Huda: It’s hard to say. I’ve worked in many different areas – mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing, but I really enjoy working with innovators who have a passion for what they’re doing, who really have an interest in their invention and have worked to solve a problem, to address a need. I find it fascinating when our clients are able to provide us with those details and those insights into what they’ve done and what they’ve been able to accomplish. And so, it’s really hard to say, “Oh, I like one type of invention over another.” I really enjoy just meeting our clients, learning about what they’re doing, and then being able to help them.

JD: That’s awesome. Thanks so much for sharing. We’ll have more with Huda here in a bit. I do want to introduce you to Brian Latimer. He is a patent attorney as well. We’ve been working together for what – four or five years now?

Brian: Yeah, since 2017.

JD: Awesome. Thanks so much for joining. Tell us a bit about your story and how you got into this. I know it’s a bit different from Huda’s.

Brian: Definitely. Well, I grew up in the Midwest. I’m from the Indianapolis, Indiana area. So, I’m a Midwesterner. But as I was growing up, I was always interested in technology. I always enjoyed taking things apart. My dad would buy me electronic kits and things like that to put together. So, it was always just a natural progression for me to go into engineering. I went to Purdue University. I studied electrical engineering there. And like Huda, I also – once I got into engineering, I really enjoyed it. I liked learning about technology, how things worked. But I always kind of had a bit of an eye towards the business side of things as well.

So, after I graduated from Purdue, I actually went to law school. I attended Indiana University for law school. So, I graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, then I went to law school, and during law school, I focused more on intellectual property. I worked for a few years at a law firm in Indianapolis, working with inventors, helping them to protect their inventions through patents and trademarks and other forms of intellectual property. And during that time, I also went back to school and got my Master’s in Business Administration.

So, I have an MBA as well. I always had an interest in business, and so I wanted to further my education in that area too. After that, I worked in-house for a large manufacturing company for several years. I handled all of their intellectual property matters – so patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, all of that. It was really enjoyable, but I always had that itch to work more closely with inventors and entrepreneurs. So, I eventually made my way to Bold Patents. I started working with JD and Huda. And I love it. I love working with inventors, hearing about all the different types of inventions and innovations that are out there. It’s always something different. It’s always something new. And so, it’s just really enjoyable.

JD: Awesome. Thanks, Brian. I do want to give a shoutout to you. You actually are in our patent accelerator program. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but you’re the first attorney in our firm to get a patent through that program. Is that right?

Brian: That’s correct. Yeah, that’s correct. I am a client too.

JD: You’re a client too, exactly. Well, thank you for that. That’s awesome. So, it just shows that we’ve got to take our own medicine, right? But thank you for that. I know you’re also in the Atlanta, Georgia area. You help service the Georgia area. Any shoutouts for your clients or inventors in the Georgia area that might be watching?

Brian: Yeah, absolutely. Hello to all of our clients and potential clients in Georgia. If you have any questions about patents or trademarks or any type of intellectual property, feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to help and answer your questions.

JD: Awesome. Thanks so much, Brian. And we’ll have more with Brian and Huda here in a bit. We’re going to go through a bit more of our agenda. I do want to offer a shoutout to our non-attorney advisors, who are probably helping those watching this video right now. I want to give a shoutout to Zack and Daniel. Thanks for all that you do. You probably, if you’re watching this, have talked to them on the phone already. They’re here to help guide you through the process, help you think through, “Hey, is this the right time for me to move forward with an invention or a brand? What are my next steps?” So, they’re here to help qualify you, and if you’re a good fit, introduce you to one of our patent attorneys.

And we also offer a free screening session. It’s an hour-long session where we’ll go over your invention, learn about your goals and what you’re looking to accomplish, and help guide you with some advice on what the next steps might be. If you decide to move forward with a patent or a trademark application, we’ll be there to help you with that as well.

So, that’s the link I just put in the comments. Feel free to click that link, schedule that free screening session, and get your copy of the book. That’s kind of our gift to you for taking action and scheduling that free screening session today.

And we’re going to jump into some of the live questions here in a bit. If you’re just joining, this is Bold Patent Live Q&A. I’m your host J.D. Houvener. I’m the owner here at Bold Patents Law Firm. I’m here with Huda Alzheimer and Brian Latimer, two patent attorneys. And we are here to answer your questions about patents, trademarks, intellectual property, or anything related to inventions and innovation. Feel free to drop your questions in the comments, and we’ll get to as many as we can.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the live questions that we have. All right, here’s a question from Kim. Kim is asking, “What advice do you have for inventors who are just starting the patent process?”

Huda: That’s a great question. I would say the first thing is to reach out to a patent professional, whether it’s an attorney or a patent agent, to get some advice on the patentability of your invention. They can provide you with insights into whether your invention is likely to meet the requirements for obtaining a patent. That’s a very important first step.

Brian: Absolutely. I would also add that it’s important to keep your invention confidential before you file a patent application. Once you disclose your invention to the public, you have a limited amount of time to file a patent application. So, it’s important to keep it under wraps until you’ve had a chance to discuss it with a patent professional.

JD: Great advice. Thank you both. We have another question here from Mike. Mike is asking, “How long does it take to get a patent?”

Brian: The timeline for obtaining a patent can vary, but generally, it takes about two to three years from the filing date to receive a patent. It involves a back-and-forth process with the patent office, where they may issue rejections or requests for additional information, and then we respond to those. So, it’s a bit of a process.

Huda: And it’s worth noting that there are expedited options available for those who want to accelerate the process.

JD: That’s a good point. Thank you both. Let’s see if we have another question here. All right, we have a question from Lisa. Lisa is asking, “Can I get a patent for a business idea or a method of doing business?”

Huda: That’s a great question. Generally, business methods are not eligible for patent protection. However, there are some cases where a business method can be part of a larger system or apparatus that includes a technical aspect, and in those cases, it might be eligible. It’s best to consult with a patent professional to discuss the specific details of your idea.

Brian: Right. It’s important to focus on the technical aspects and innovations that are involved in the business method.

JD: Excellent. Thank you for clarifying that. We have another question from Tom. Tom is asking, “Can I file a patent application myself, or do I need an attorney?”

Brian: You can file a patent application yourself, but it’s highly recommended to seek the assistance of a qualified patent professional. The patent process is complex, and there are many nuances and legal requirements. Having an experienced patent attorney or agent can significantly increase the likelihood of success and help you navigate the process more effectively.

Huda: Absolutely. DIY patent filings can lead to mistakes that may be difficult or impossible to correct later on.

JD: Great advice. Thank you both. We have another question here from Sarah. Sarah is asking, “What is the difference between a utility patent and a design patent?”

Huda: Good question. A utility patent protects the functional aspects of an invention – how it works and what it does. On the other hand, a design patent protects the ornamental or aesthetic design of an object. It’s focused on the visual appearance rather than the functionality.

Brian: Right. So, if you have a new and useful invention, you would typically apply for a utility patent. If it’s more about the design or appearance of the invention, then a design patent would be appropriate.

JD: Excellent explanation. Thank you both. Let’s see if we have another question here. All right, here’s a question from Jake. Jake is asking, “What happens after a patent is granted?”

Brian: Once a patent is granted, the inventor or the patent owner has the exclusive right to make, use, sell, and import the patented invention for a limited period, generally 20 years from the filing date. It’s the patent owner’s responsibility to enforce those rights, and they can take legal action against anyone who infringes on the patent.

Huda: That’s correct. It’s important for patent owners to monitor the market and take action if they believe someone is infringing on their patent.

JD: Thank you for clarifying that. We have another question here from Chris. Chris is asking, “How much does it cost to get a patent?”

Huda: The cost of obtaining a patent can vary based on various factors, including the complexity of the invention, the type of patent, and the level of detail required in the application. It’s best to consult with a patent professional to get a more accurate estimate based on your specific situation.

Brian: Right. It’s important to consider not only the filing fees but also the attorney or agent fees and any additional costs that may arise during the prosecution process.

JD: Good point. Thank you both for providing insights on these questions. We appreciate it. If you have more questions, feel free to drop them in the comments, and we’ll get to as many as we can. Now, before we wrap up, I want to give our guests an opportunity to share any final thoughts or advice for our viewers. Huda, any final thoughts?

Huda: I would just encourage inventors to reach out to a patent professional early in the process to get the guidance they need. It’s an important step to determine the patentability of the invention and to navigate the complexities of the patent system.

Brian: Absolutely. I would echo that sentiment. Seeking professional advice early on can save you time and increase the chances of success in obtaining a patent.

JD: Well said. Thank you both, Huda and Brian, for joining us today and sharing your insights. And thank you to all the viewers for your questions. Remember, if you’re considering moving forward with an invention or a brand, schedule a free screening session with one of our non-attorney advisors, and you’ll also receive a free copy of the book “Bold Ideas: The Inventor’s Guide to Patents.”

That’s all for today’s Bold Patent Live Q&A. We’ll be back next Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. Pacific, noon on the East Coast. Until then, take care, and we’ll see you next time.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at https://boldip.com/contact/