Pandemic Downtime: What a Great Time to Solve Problems!
Miller & Martin PLLC Blog | March 25, 2020
Author: Stephen John Stark
The Coronavirus is certainly creating difficulties for those unfortunate to have complications from contracting the disease. It is also causing business mayhem including at least temporarily closing certain businesses or drastically affecting the way that business is conducted. Many employees are currently working remotely to practice social distancing.
Some people are utilizing this time of isolation to assist others by developing new products and services. The American Radio Relay League (the national association for Amateur Radio operators) reports that it has members assisting a University of Florida Professor in developing an inexpensive ventilator that can be built from readily available materials, such as PVC pipe, lawn sprinkler valves and an Arduino microcomputer - an open-source computer board. Locally, in Chattanooga, Dr. Dawn Richards, Dr. Mary Loveless and Dr. Elizabeth Forrester have perfected a four-hour Coronavirus test protocol to be implemented at the Baylor School.
While addressing the virus itself will certainly benefit our country, it is likely that at least some employees may have capacity to contemplate how to improve their business when they return to the office. It may be that these employees can focus on improving aspects of the company and its products or services. This may be a great time to ask customers what features they would like to see included with the next release of products or services. It may also be a great time to see how certain goods or services may be provided at a higher quality and/or more efficiently to the marketplace. What can you do better than your competition? Or, for the more adventurous, what do competitors do better than you, and how can you make up the difference?
If new products or services are developed, remember, the United States is a first-to-file country. In most instances, the company that files a patent application first will be the party that receives patent rights, if any are available. Also, if no application is filed within the first year of the very first offer for sale or a first use in public, then patent protection probably will not be an option for your company. This may also be an excellent time to review whether your company released a new product or service within the last year that still may be protectable.
We would be happy to assist you in evaluating whether patent protection might be advantageous for your company. Contact a Miller & Martin Intellectual Property attorney for more information.