Phase 12: Intellectual Property

Paragon Innovations’ Series:

12-Stage Product Development Process

From Start to Success

In Stage 11 of Paragon Innovation’s 12-Phase Product Development Course, developers were provided with key insights on what needs to be addressed in post-production. In Phase 12, the final stage of a product’s development, Paragon is joined by Joel Justiss to provide inventors with everything they need to know about establishing intellectual property (IP). As a partner at Parker Justiss Intellectual Property Law Firm, Joel is uniquely positioned to offer developers key insights on how they can protect their inventions.

What is Intellectual Property?

A large portion of the research phase is identifying the intellectual property of your product design. “There’s different types of intellectual property that you can use to protect your invention or idea,” says Joel.  In the scope of product development, intellectual property surrounds Patents, Copyrights, Trade Secrets, and Trade Dress. Trade secrets are defined as information that is kept internally within your company that is never to be released as public knowledge. In other words, trade secrets are secret formula for your spaghetti sauce.


Joel clarifies that there are two main types of patents; utility patents and design patents. Utility patents protect the functionality of your product. Design patents protect what your design visually looks like. “The cost for patents can range greatly depending on what type of patent you are getting,” says Joel. “In the United States, you can get a provisional patent which essentially preserves your date with the patent office. Now, obtaining a provisional patent costs less money than obtaining a non-provisional patent.” Joel also advises that costs may significantly increase if developers plan on filing overseas or in other countries.

Additionally, developers should be advised that establishing a non-provisional patent is a two to four year process. If you plan on patenting your product design, you must disclose this information to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Regardless if your submission is approved or denied, the application is made public on, google, and many other patent sites. It’s extremely difficult to keep trade secrets classified while patenting an idea. It’s important to note that:

  • Patenting a product or idea is expensive
  • Inventors and companies need to be prepared for the ramifications of a party violating patents.
  • Patenting is time-intensive and the approval process is difficult

While items like trademarking and patenting happen further into a product’s development process, an important aspect of the research phase is to identify what your project’s intellectual property is and what you intend to do with it.


Trademarking a product or service is a relatively simple process. Technically, anything can be trademarked by adding a TM or SM symbol. However, in order to receive the full protection of trademarking, inventors must register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Upon applying for trademark registration, inventors will be required to provide proof of use through a published source like a magazine or product literature.

Trade Secrets:

Depending on the type of product you have, keeping a trade secret may be advantageous route of establishing intellectual property rights. Inventors do not have to file anything with patent or copyright offices, but they still get to protect their product. “One of the best examples of trade secret is Coca-Cola,” say Joel. “They did not patent their formula and they’ve protected [it] all these years. In comparison, if they patented their formula they would have to publicly disclose it.”


The cost for copyrighting an invention is much lower than patenting a product. “The cost for copyrights is roughly thirty to fifity dollars for the filing fee,” Joel says. Inventors can file the copyright application themselves or have an IP attorney assist with the application. Both options are still much more cost-effective than the patent process and copyrights still provide your product with some level of protection.

How Do I Establish My Invention’s Intellectual Property?

The road to protecting your invention through establishing intellectual property can seem daunting. Establishing IP will take time, money, and resources. The cost of establishing IP fluctuates depending on a product’s complexity. “For a non-provisional patent application, you could easily be looking at a cosr from five thousand to ten thousand dollars depending on the complexity,” advises Joel.

Luckily, Paragon Innovations is here to assist you through the IP phase of your product’s development. Paragon has the expertise and the network required to guide developers through IP’s confusing path. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with establishing the intellectual property behind your invention, contact Paragon Innovations today!