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QUESTION: I have an innovative method for testing the speech abilities of students learning English as a second language. It has never been used by another organization or individual according to my research, and it is very effective for both assessing and teaching non-native speakers.
It will be used in several Asian countries, if plans go well.
Am I able to patent the test design and assessment technique?  
Should I aim for a patent, or just register the trademark?  
Thank you in advance.

ANSWER: I recomend a "belts & suspenders approach.

Go for a patent. Usually you have to file first in your country of residence before  you file elsewhere.

After the patent is filed, get copyright protection, which is relatively inexpensive & can be easier to enforce.

Trademark is something you establish by use or intend to use. If you are intending to sell the development & not do it yourself, your customer or licensee will probably want to use his own trademark. Remember, the purpose of a trademark is different from those of a patent or a copyright.

The patent, as well as the copyright, is to protect your intellectual property.

The trademark is to garuntee the purchaser intending to use your product that he is getting the real McCoy, and not some knock-off product.

I hope that helps.

George H. Morgan
www.morganandassociates.net


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for the reply.
The role of a TM and benefits of a patent were clear and very helpful.
May I follow-up?
What would be some factors to determine whether I can get approved for a patent for a speaking test design and assessment method?  What should I emphasize, generally speaking?
Lastly, about how much would lawyer and application fees be for that in the US?

Answer
The basic requirements for a patent is novelty (i.e. it is new) and creativity. By creative is meant what the patent office deems to be creative.

Emphasize what is new and different about your approach.

Total costs, as an estimate, is from approx. $8,000 going through a patent agent to $30,000  through a patent attorney.  

I suggest you visit my web site and check out the book review page of helpful texts. I highly recommend you read "Patent It Yourself" by David Pressman" to get a handle on the U.S. Patent system. Amazon.com has a surplus of 13th editions, which are out of date, but quite adequate for a basic orientation for $7.50.  Or, you can try to get one through your library that is the latest edition, probably the 15th.  Best wishes on your project. George H. Morgan, Patent Agent  

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George H. Morgan, P.E., Patent Agent

Expertise

U.S. Patent Law only, no copyright or trademark qualification. I was a volunteer in the past, but my homeland defense activities pulled me away at times, and I was dropped. If you want me back, I am willing to come back.

Experience

Thirty one years as a Registered U.S. Patent Agent and a lifetime in product and manufacturing process and methods development as well as sales and marketing of new products with a number of blue chip corporations.

Organizations
Rotary, Society of Automotive Engineers, American Army Aviation Association, Registered Professional Engineer, St. Vincent De Paul Society, Indiana Guard Reserve Officer

Publications
Various Society of Manufacturing Engineers & Society of Automotive Engineers technical publications. Ref. my web site: http://www.evansville.net/biz/patagent

Education/Credentials
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Machine Design Option), L.S.U., Baton Rouge, Louisiana; M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Heat Transfer and Thermodynamics Option), University of Missouri at Rolla, Missouri, Helicopter Maintenance Course, 18 weeks, Ft. Sill Army Aviation School, Troop Information and Education Leadership Course, Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, Numerous Society of Automotive Engineers Seminars, Dale Carnegie Management Training Instructors Course.

Awards and Honors
Bausch & Lomb Science Award, Indiana Homeland Defense Service Ribbon, 2003.

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