A Primer on Patents

Everything you needed to know about patents but were afraid to ask…

By Pin Tan, Patent Attorney and Managing Partner of Lightbulb IP

Protection for New and Useful Inventions

Patents provide broad protection over inventions or discoveries that are both new and useful by giving patent holders the exclusive right to make, use, sell, or offer to sell their patented inventions. This means a patent holder can exclude third parties from making, using, or selling his or her patented invention. Unlike other forms of intellectual property protection, a patent holder’s exclusive rights extend to third parties who independently develop or discover the invention.

Types of Patents and Patent Applications

There are three types of patents and patent applications, namely, utility, design, and plant patents. Utility patents protect the

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Clark County Cracking Down on Unlicensed Businesses

August 28, 2012

A little birdie just told me that Clark County is cracking down on unlicensed businesses, especially real estate brokers, real estate salespersons, and professional promoters.

To see whether your business is in the county’s jurisdiction, check the Jurisdiction Locater.  Look at what appears next to “Jurisdiction.”  If it says Clark County, check the status of your business license in their Database.

If your license isn’t in Active status, you can pay your license fees online.  However, you need the information from the bill they send you. 

If you don’t have the bill, you should probably pay their office a visit or mail in your payment to:

Clark County Business License – Billing and Payments 500 S. Grand Central Pkwy, 3rd

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Small Business Horror Story #6: Not Properly Closing Your Business

Today I received a call from a potential client who was called before the Nevada Department of Taxation about $60,000 in taxes, penalties, and interest he owes from a business he stopped operating in 2009.  Apparently he simply closed the doors of the business and changed his address.  Three years later he’s on the hook for this money partly because he failed to request the Department of Taxation cancel his tax permit.

When you’re closing up shop, it involves far more than just closing the doors.  Here are just some of the things to consider when shutting down your business in order to avoid personal liability…

Follow any termination or dissolution protocol outlined in an owners’ agreement, Make sure all your debts are paid or that arrangements have

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Small Business Horror Story #5: Trademark Denied

The first step in starting a business is to choose a name.  In my article on How to Start a Business in Las Vegas, I say, simply, “make sure no one else has it.”  Maybe I need to elaborate.

In addition to ensuring no one else has the entity name by checking with the Secretary of State, making sure no one else has licensed the name with local business license bureaus, and making sure you can reserve a domain with your company name, you want to check the federal trademark database.  

Whether you go to all this trouble really depends on the type of company you have and its potential for growth.  If you are Joe’s Mobile Detailing, chances are you’ll stick within

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Trademark Basics

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website is incredibly helpful in educating people about the trademark process.  However, there are some pitfalls not covered by the site that I’ve encountered in helping my clients.  And because I’m all about warning my clients about pitfalls, I am writing this article.    First, you don’t necessarily need to file a formal application for a trademark.  Simply by using the mark in commerce, whether it be a name, a logo design, or both, you get some degree of protection as long as you can prove you were using it first.  You can even use the little “TM” or “SM” next to your logo without having filed a formal registration with the USPTO.  Getting an official trademark from

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Leaving a Business

I just got a call from someone who wants to resign from his company, leaving his partner behind. He was surprised to learn there is far more to this process than simply filing the resignation paperwork with the Secretary of State.

First, is there an operating agreement (for an LLC) or a shareholder agreement (for a corporation)? If so, that document should dictate how one owner can terminate his or her interest in the business. A good owner’s agreement will also spell out a formula for calculating how much money the remaining partner must pay the leaving partner for his interest in the business.

Even if the leaving partner doesn’t want any money and just wants out, chances are he is tied to the business in more ways

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Beware Unofficial Trademark Solicitations

One of my clients recently called in a panic because she had just received a notice that the trademarks I’d filed on her behalf were cancelled.  As it turns out, the notice was a fake.  It looked official and made reference to the USPTO, but tried to deceive her into paying the company that sent it extra money to revive the applications.

The USPTO enclosed a notice about these deceptive solicitations with a trademark I recently received.  An article on their website describes the types of notices to watch out for and what to do if you receive one.  In short, if you suspect a solicitation is deceptive, file a complaint with the FTC at www.FTC.gov.

Also, e-mail the USPTO at TMFeedback@uspto.gov, preferably including a copy of the

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Streamlined Business Licenses for Contractors

Yay!   Believe it or not, Clark County and the Cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas have agreed on something.  I know, right?

A June 21, 2012 press release announces the first phase of multijurisdictional licensing for contractors!  

The insanely maddening process of having to go to each jurisdiction to secure a separate license and pay separate fees has been simplified.  I’ll wait while you pick your chin up off the floor.

Thanks to the implementation of a central database that the jurisdictions share, now contractors can go to one place and pay their fees and submit their applications and…wait for it…the office will forward the application and fees to the proper jurisdiction.  No more bureau-hopping, which is like club-hopping except with elevator music

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Why Do I Need a Business Plan?

“Why do I need a business plan? Writing one is so difficult and I don’t have time!”

A business plan is the blue print for your business. It tells others the projected course of action for your business over a period of time.

If you are in need of OPM (Other People’s Money) for your business, a business plan is critical. Banks, lenders, and investors will thoroughly examine your plan in order to decide whether or not to finance your business venture.

A well-executed plan will describe your business including: the market conditions, the industry, your competition, plan of operations, marketing strategies, problem-solving strategies, and management policies.

The financial projections may be the most important component of the plan. Institutional lenders and sophisticated investors will expect to see the following

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What is a Series LLC?

Now, if you are a loyal reader of my blog, and I’m sure you are (wink, wink)…you read my article on the benefits of incorporating. And if you’ve done some homework, you’ve discovered that Nevada is a pretty friendly place to incorporate your business. In addition to having no state income tax, and relatively low business licensing fees, along with a Secretary of State who’s not only a total badass but also highly motivated to make Nevada the next Delaware, Nevada continues to improve the business climate with developments such as the Series LLC.

With our tragically depressed housing market, investors are swooping in and buying multiple properties at once. Traditionally, in order for a landlord to protect those investments, each parcel would have to be

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