IP trends of 2020 — what should businesses know to stay current?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2020 | Blog

Strategies for safeguarding intellectual properties have become priorities for many Arizona businesses. Whether needed to distinguish products from competitors or copyright an algorithmic process, IP protection helps shield a company from infringement. 

A 2020 Supreme Court ruling and an increasing reliance by companies on proprietary programming illustrate two current trends in online branding and data-collection IP protection. 

Adding “.com” turns a generic word into a brand-name IP

Under a recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding an online hotel reservation company’s trademark application, generic brand names that include “.com” can apply for trademark IP protection. Previously, a trademark would only receive an approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office if it did not appear too generic. 

A manufacturer’s trademark application for “Red Cars,” for example, would not receive approval. The name is too generic. If, however, the company wished to trademark “Tempe Red Cars,” the USPTO would honor the request; consumers could then differentiate between other “red car” manufacturers. 

When the online hotel reservation company received its trademark rejection, it appealed the denial. The company asserted it could trademark a generic term if followed by “.com.” As reported by the ABA Journal, the Supreme Court’s favorable ruling determined that by adding “.com” to a generic word, consumers could still differentiate a company’s product or service from its competitors. 

A patent can protect computer-generated processes

A company programming artificial intelligence to build profiles of customer purchasing patterns can apply for patent protection. Businesses create a unique service process through their AI codes, and protecting these processes can help maintain a competitive edge. 

A company may need to protect both its online branding strategies and the algorithms used to build customer profiles. In some cases, a company could require several IP applications to protect its digital assets.