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Intellectual Property Fundamentals

with Dana Robinson
image's PMI® Program
This course qualifies for 1.50 PDUs towards maintaining PMI® certification. Learn More

Video: Welcome

Discover the basics of intellectual property rights, and how you can best safeguard your ideas and avoid infringement.
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Intellectual Property Fundamentals
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How are you protecting your work? Author and attorney Dana Robinson gives you a high-level overview of intellectual property (IP), including topics such as patents, trademarks, and other protections. Learn the answer to common IP questions and discover an attorney's perspective on how you can best safeguard your ideas, and avoid infringing others' rights.

The information in this course applies only to the United States.

DISCLAIMER: This course is taught by an attorney and addresses US law concepts that may not apply in all countries. Neither LInkedIn nor the attorney teaching the course represents you and they are not giving legal advice. The information conveyed through this course is akin to a college or law school course; it is not intended to give legal advice, but instead to communicate basic information to help viewers understand the basics of intellectual property.

This course qualifies for 1.5 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.

Topics include:
  • What is intellectual property?
  • What is a copyright?
  • How long do copyrights last?
  • Trademarking your brand
  • Trademark infringement
  • Patenting your ideas
  • Defending trade secrets

  • The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.


Intellectual property is one of the hottest subjects in the business and the legal community today and there's good reason for that. 40 years ago, the typical American company had about 20% of its assets in intellectual property or intangible assets. Today that number is more like 80%. That means that almost every company in America is dealing in intellectual property every day. It's their biggest asset. I'm Dana Robinson, I'm an intellectual property attorney; I work with IP clients every day.

In this course, I'd like to share the basics of intellectual property law. I'd like to help you become conversant in this fascinating subject. So let's get started.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Intellectual Property Fundamentals .

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Q: Can a provisional be extended?
A: No. The provisional is only good for one year and it must be followed by a nonprovisional application by the end of that 12 months, or it will not only mean you can't get protection for the idea, but that others will be free to practice it after that. A provisional that is not followed by a nonprovisional effectively makes the subject of the provisional public domain.
Q: If the full utility is "held up" in the patent office and is not secured before the provisional expires, does that make your idea unpatentable?  
A: See the "Can a provisional be extended?" FAQ.  If you file a provisional and then do not file a nonprovisional within a year (what is called a full-utility patent application) then you are done. There is no protection.  
Q: The course mentions that discussing an idea with someone without a signed NDA "starts the 12-month clock" on making your idea public domain. Is this true?  
A: If you have not filed any patent application at all, and you disclose your idea without an NDA (say you show it at a trade show or put it on a website), then you must file a patent within 12 months of that disclosure.  The reason is that the patent must be novel, meaning there's no prior art out there that speaks to your invention.  If you disclose something prior to filing, then your own disclosure makes your later patent NON-novel. You ruin novelty by disclosing the idea.  However, the US gives you a safe harbor of 12 months from your disclosure to get your patent filed; so your disclosure within 12 months is not considered a bar to novelty for that period. But, after 12 months, the disclosure by you (or anyone) of the subject matter will become a bar to your patent insofar as it makes the patent not novel. 
Q: Does disclosure make an idea unpatentable?
A: A disclosure more than 12 months prior (or provisional past 12 months) will present a major obstacle to patentability because it becomes prior art.  It must be disclosed in the patent application, and to the extent that what was disclosed is the same as what you want to patent, it will likely be an obstacle.  In some cases, you can add new inventive features to something that was in an expired provisional patent, or to something that was disclosed ... as long as what is new is novel and is not obvious in light of the prior disclosure or prior expired provisional patent.
A: Could your utility patent be revoked even if the people you discussed your idea with kept it confidential?  (In other words, is an idea you talked about 12+ months ago unpatentable because you talked about it?)  
A: Generally, if the subject has not disclosed, then it is arguably still protectable and patentable.  You don't have have a signed nondisclosure, but a knowledge of the confidentiality and an obligation to keep it confidential.  If you gave an open talk at a trade show about it, and it happens that no one talked about it, you still have a disclosure problem.  If you told your friend about it and she hasn't told anyone, then it is probably still confidential and not disclosed.





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