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J. Nevin Shaffer, JR. J. Nevin Shaffer, JR.
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Top Ten Mistakes in Intellectual Property Law

By J. Nevin Shaffer, Jr.

Top Ten lists are fun! Unless you are the one who makes them!

Here are the biggest ones I see in the four primary areas of intellectual property law.


  1. Failure to make a written witnessed and dated record of invention.
  2. Failure to keep idea confidential.
  3. Failure to know the commercial viability of the invention.
  4. Failure to know the rules i.e. no prototype required; one year limitation after offer for sale or public disclosure; can go fishing with a raw idea as bait.
  5. Trademarks:

  6. Picking a mark that is the same as or similar to a previously registered mark.
  7. Picking a mark that is descriptive of the goods or services being offered.
  8. Using the mark as a noun or verb.
  9. Copyrights:

  10. Not knowing the effect of the difference between a Work for Hire and an Independent Contractor.
  11. Not getting a written transfer of copyrights and a guaranty of originality from Independent Contractors.
  12. Not having a Trade Secret agreement in an employment contract.

About the Author

Nevin is a licensed patent attorney and has been practicing Intellectual Property law for 25 years. You may contact Nevin at his Gulf Breeze office in the Harbourtown complex, Suite 43, or by phone or email at 850-934-4124 and You can also get information about Nevin and his practice at his website at Nevin is a professional speaker as well. If your organization would like to have him speak about these topics, please contact him! Note: Nevin speaks in plain English and not in unintelligible lawyer gibberish!

© Copyright 2004 JNSJrPA. The material in this article is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a legal opinion nor relied upon in lieu of specific legal advice. Accordingly, readers who require legal services in connection with their specific circumstances should consult an attorney competent in the field of intellectual property.

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