San Antonio Business Journal Quotes Daniel Moffett on IP Issues for Tech Startups

Daniel Moffett, counsel in the intellectual property practice at Akin Gump has been quoted by the San Antonio Business Journal in an article addressing the importance of intellectual property for tech startups.

Moffett noted, in “SA attorney: Computer code can’t be patented, but tech startups can still protect themselves,” that early decisions can have long-term consequences. “Code itself, when you are making something work software-wise, traditionally has not been patentable at all. It’s more akin to copyright, (because) you’ve written something in a novel unique way.”

Tech startups, Moffett said, and ultimately any inventor can hurt their chances for getting a U.S. patent by disclosing a product to the public — even through an investor pitch — without a nondisclosure agreement. To avoid this, an inventor should file a provisional patent that “holds the place in line” for the idea at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a one-year grace period. Failure to do so could mean a patent may never be issued, for there may be someone “that is right on top of you,” he added.

Once things like software products or licensing are offered for sale, the one-year clock starts ticking on potential patent consideration, though even those with a patent in hand should stay vigilant, Moffett said. “The patent office does all of this work, and all you get out of it is the presumption that you were entitled to it, and that it might be valid. Once you go assert it, it’s still vulnerable to being invalidated by whoever you are trying to sue. But once you have the patent, people will be reluctant to challenge it because the standard is high.”