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Nathan speaks to college students about intellectual property

I spoke to a class of upperclassmen at Henderson State University today about intellectual property. These students, all business majors, are preparing business plans for course credit as well as several local and statewide competitions that have cash prizes for the best plans.


Using the Coke bottle analogy, I taught them about the different forms of intellectual property, and I fielded questions from the students about how intellectual property fit into their business plans. The students were curious about the different forms of intellectual property fit together, what type of patent and trademark procurement costs they could expect to report in their business plans, and how to search for software patents using free tools.

Good luck to Professor Lonnie Jackson's students on the upcoming business plan competitions! 

Where do patents and copyrights come from?

Where does intellectual property come from? Different places. Patents and copyrights come from the U.S. Constitution — Article I, section 8, clause 8. It says Congress shall have the power to:
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

“To promote the progress of science and useful arts”

Patents can only be granted for scientific inventions. However, laws of nature and mathematical formulas are discoveries, not inventions, so they can’t be patented. Patents have reasonable terms — 20 years from the date of filing.

Copyrights can granted on most types of artistic works movies, songs, books, magazines, sculptures, and almost any other writing or work of art. Copyrights last much longer than patents — 75 years after death. Why? It sounds silly to say, “because of Mickey Mouse” — but every time Mickey Mouse’s copyright gets close to expiring, a certain company lobbies Congress to get its copyrights extended. Is it constitutional to keep extending copyright terms?

by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

 Owners can exclude others (in court) from making, selling, copying, or otherwise using their inventions and writings. Owners can sell, license, and transfer intellectual property just like other personal property (cars, jewelry, etc.).

Let us know if we can help with your patent and copyright needs.


Nathan speaks to Arkadelphia High School business class


I was invited by Principal David Maxwell and instructor David Gustaveson to speak to several business classes at Arkadelphia High School this morning on the subject of intellectual property. 

I told the students a plastic Coke bottle represents 5 types of intellectual property and asked for their help in naming each one. We walked through (1) the design patent for the shape of the bottle, (2) the utility patent for the tamper-resistant top, (3) the trade secret on the Coke formula, (4) the trademark for Coca-Cola® and Coke®, and (5) the copyright for the label.

The discussion turned to the laws for intellectual property. We discussed the constitutional basis for each type of intellectual property and some basic tensions between protecting intellectual property rights and encouraging free sharing of ideas. iPhone vs. Android helped illustrate some of these principles, and the students were divided in their loyalties to their cell phones.

I appreciate the students being attentive and interactive. Thanks to Mr. G and Principal Maxwell for inviting me out! And, thanks to Paul Sivils for giving me a tour. AHS has changed quite a bit since I was a student!

UPDATE: We've added a page on the site that includes an explanation of how a Coke bottle represents five different types of intellectual property. Check it out here.

Stephen Colbert on Copyright Law

Stephen Colbert weighed in on a current Supreme Court case that will address an important question of copyright law known as the “first sale doctrine.” The case involves the intersection of quick global travel and laws written before the age of cheap international shipping. Here’s the clip:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Judge, Jury & Executioner - Copyright Law
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Nathan talks to high schoolers about IP law

Nathan Chaney was a guest speaker this morning at a class for high school students at Jessieville and Mountain Pine through the distance learning program at Dawson Education Cooperative. Nathan’s presentation was an overview of intellectual property law and how it applies in today’s world.

The outline for Nathan’s presentation is available here.

Thanks to Robert Cooper for inviting Nathan to come speak to his class.