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Last Update: Sunday July 25, 2021

Key Idea: Learn The Difference Between Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights

The Millers invented a word and logo so that it would be easy to get a trademark.

Key Question:


No. You can do it yourself.  If you have plenty of money and want to move quickly though, hire an attorney.

Ruth Ellen said, "Patents protect your product. They keep competitors from copying you and from making exactly what you're making. The copyright protect your literature. This includes your catalogs, instruction manuals, ads and photographs. Your trademark is your name. It is the thing that identifies you."

Q:  What is important about a trademark?

A: Create something unique. NoUVIR made up a word which is easy to protect. If they had named their company "New Light," it would be hard to protect because both words are so common. If they had chosen "New Light" then had a special logo designed, that design which include the words can be protected.

Also, use your trademark by putting it on everything. Usage is part of what a court would look at if you were forced to defend your trademark.

Protecting your ideas requires paperwork and patience. It takes up to seven years to become fully registered.

Think about it

Do you place a copyright symbol on your print materials?  On your web site?  Is your company name unique enough to win trademark protection?

Clip from: NoUVIR: Lighting Is Big Business

Seaford, Delaware: The bold among us take on the giants of industry.  This episode of the show is a classic David & Goliath story. Their slingshot is the US Patent & Trademark Office and Goliath looks like GE, Osram Sylvania, and Phillips.

Meet two small business owners who have slain the giants. Their advice for inventors is timeless.

Ruth Ellen Miller and her ever-inventive father and business partner, Jack Miller,  are  two of the brainiest people we've gotten to know and we've met lots of geniuses since the first episode back in 1994. They hold over 100 patents; they're expert witnesses on patent infringement lawsuits. And, they truly understand the heart and soul of intellectual capital. Their lighting business is the working evidence. Museums around the world come to them to provide the type of lighting that does not damage physical artifacts.

Their company is NoUVIR.  They create pure light -- no UltraViolet and no InfraRed. UV and IR found in typical lighting will destroy art and artifacts over time. 


Ruth Ellen Miller, Co-founder

Highway 13
RR4 Box 748
Seaford, DE 19973

Visit our web site:

Office: 3026289933

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1990

Learn The Difference Between Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights

HATTIE: Why are trademarks, copyrights and patents so important? And what's the difference in the three?

RUTH ELLEN: Patents protect your product. They keep competitors from copying you. And making exactly what you're making. The copyrights--that protects your literature. That protects what you write--your catalogs, your instruction manuals, your ads, your photographs of your products.

HATTIE: But why do we need to copyright what we write about our products if our products are patented?

RUTH ELLEN: Because people will imitate your literature, and you should protect your ideas.

HATTIE: OK. So your competitors could take your catalogs and steal your words and describe their products...

RUTH ELLEN: Exactly.

HATTIE: ...because we're talking about fiber optics, lighting, and they're doing some of that, too.

RUTH ELLEN: Sure. And then the final thing is your trademark, which is your name. And that's what your company is called. That's the thing that identifies you. Now for us, it's NoUVIR. And the first thing we did is we trademarked the words: N-O-U-V-I-R. But as you use it more and more, and the public knows you by that name, it gets stronger and stronger. And if you add a logo to it, the way it's written, the colors that you use for it, always being the same, it gets stronger yet. And that's why you'll find our name and our logo on every catalog page.

HATTIE: On every page.

RUTH ELLEN: And then to expand it, we put it on shirts, caps, the lab coats. And we give these to customers.

HATTIE: Right. So the more this is used, the more powerful it is.

RUTH ELLEN: Exactly.

HATTIE: What are the steps I have to go through to get an official trademark?

RUTH ELLEN: First thing is to be creative and get something unique. Then what you do is you start using it with your specific colors, and you just put a little T-M up there. OK. Now if it's a service, it's S-M. So if you're a travel agency or something like that...but a trademark is for products. Then what you do is you write or get on their Web site and talk to the Patent and Trademark Office and get the forms. You fill out the forms. You send them examples of you using your trademark.

HATTIE: They say on there, `Give us your mechanical drawings.' When I saw that, I went, `Mechanical drawings?' But that's just a picture or an example of what it is you're trying trademark.

RUTH ELLEN: Well, not quite. The mechanical drawing is basically your artwork so that they can reproduce it in the Gazette and say, `Hey, anybody out there got something similar to this?'

HATTIE: Right.

RUTH ELLEN: `Let us know and we'll refuse this trademark. We won't register it.'

HATTIE: So how long does the process take from when they've got my artwork and they put it in the Gazette--when will they...

RUTH ELLEN: And they've got your samples. It takes about two years. And then what'll happen is they'll register it and you'll start using an R that shows that it's registered. You go another five years, you send more paperwork through the Patent and Trademark Office and they say, `Yeah, nobody's talked to us about this for five years. Looks like you're still using it because you've sent us samples of it in usage. So we will assume that somebody can't fight it and say that you're stomping on their ideas. We'll assume that they're your ideas.' So you're fully registered then.

HATTIE: Did we just add up to seven years?

RUTH ELLEN: Seven years. But the good news about a trademark is unlike a patent that's only got a seven-year or 20-year life, a trademark lasts for as long as your company lasts as long as you keep using it. And the more you use it, the stronger it gets.


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