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Chapter 5. A Primer on Intellectual Property > Protecting Your Assets - Pg. 158

A Primer on Intellectual Property Competing Claims 158 Where two inventors independently create the same invention, the USPTO generally awards own- ership to the "first to invent," not the "first to file." Therefore, documentation of invention processes becomes very valuable. Ongoing records of research and development progress should be kept and need to be signed and dated by the inventor as well as a witness not involved in the invention process. One exception to the "first to invent" rule is that if an inventor does not attempt to reduce his invention to practice within a reasonable amount of time after the invention, the patent may be awarded to the other party. "Reducing to practice" means either producing a working prototype or filing a patent application describing the invention in enough detail that a third party could reproduce it. Enforcing Patents Patent infringement is punishable by injunctions (forcing the infringer to do or not do something) and money damages in cases of innocent infringement, and attorney's fees and tripled damages if the infringement was willful. Strengths and Weaknesses of Patents Strengths of the patent are · The ability to protect ideas, methods, and concepts as well as their embodiments · The ability to prevent others from using the patented property, even if they developed it inde- pendently Weaknesses of the patent are · It is a long, expensive, uncertain process. · There are pitfalls attached to the application process that require close monitoring by an expe- rienced attorney. · The practice is controversial within the game development community. What Assets can a Patent Protect? Patents may protect many different aspects of a technology: program algorithms, display presen- tation, menu arrangement, editing functions, control functions, user interface features, compiling techniques, program languages, translation methods, utilities, formulae to control program execu- tion or process data, and more. Protecting Your Assets Now that you understanding the basics of intellectual property law, here are some important appli- cations of those principles: Identify Eligible Assets The first step of a strong intellectual property protection program is to identify company assets eligible for protection, such as: · Name and Logo. Your name and logo, if applicable, should be federally trademarked as early as possible. Table 5.4. Protections Available for DeveloperAssets by Category of Rights Trade Secret