Propeller - a HUGE success!


written by Elizabeth Gearhart, Ph.D., patent agent at Gearhart Law

Propeller – a HUGE success

Aaron Price wanted to hit a home run with Propeller.  He hit the ball out of the stratosphere!   Gearhart Law had a table at the event and our team talked to people for 11 hours straight.  I escaped a couple of times to watch the drones and to check out the other tables and tents and the presentations, all of which were amazing.  I truly think that all 6,000+ people who signed up came to the event, some in the morning, some in the afternoon.  Richard (founder of Gearhart Law) gave a presentation and got some great questions from the audience.   It was delightful to talk to all of the entrepreneurs and others who stopped by our table, and I was intrigued by the many innovative new startups and ideas.  This event reinforced that innovation is alive and well in the Northeast corridor and that we have a thriving community of brilliant people who want to connect.  Way to go Aaron!


Richard Gearhart to Speak at Propeller May 20th

 Join us at the pier in Hoboken for PropellerFest on May 20th! 

To learn more & register click
At 5:20 pm on The Stage of Wisdom Richard Gearhart will discuss:

 "How Intellectual Property Affects Valuations"

IP costs a lot of money - a patent can run between 10K and 50K, and trademarks aren't cheap either. So how do you get back the money you invest in Intellectual Property? Richard will discuss how companies use IP and why investors look for it when investing in a company.

BTW - Which company, worldwide, was issued the most patents in 2015?

Answer: IBM, with 7,355 patents issued in one year alone! Why do they need all of those patents?

Come and find out - Richard's presentation will be on The Stage of Wisdom at 5:20pm. So grab a beer or other drink and meet us at 5:20 for a great presentation.

What is Propeller?

It's where "Innovators of the Northeast Unite" (per the website). It's also a HUGE festival for innovators, entrepreneurs, business people, investors, service providers, basically anyone interested in 'propelling' creativity forward.   All are invited, and virtually anyone and everyone in the Northeast's entrepreneurial world will be there.

On the pier in Hoboken, Propeller is an all day and early evening event, with food trucks, craft beer, wine, rockin' bands, sponsor tables, and of course presentations, with a percentage of all sales going to charity.

We hope to see you there! Stop by the Gearhart Law table to say hi and for a free pen. And, the first 100 to visit us will get a cool gift too.



Richard Gearhart to speak at HealthTech May 19th

To learn more and register, click here.

NJTC is sponsoring the HealthTech conference on May 19th at NJIT.  Along with a number of high powered speakers, the keynote speaker is David Shulkin, MD, Under Secretary for Health Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Gearhart Law's founder, Richard Gearhart, will participate in a panel discussion of Innovation.  Stop by our table for a free gift.


Which company worldwide had the most patents issued in 2015?

written by Elizabeth Gearhart, Ph.D., Patent Agent at Gearhart Law

Can you guess which company of all the companies globally obtained the most patents in 2015?

First hint – its headquarters are in the U.S.

Second hint – it’s a tech company.  Do tech companies need patents? This one finds value in them.  Lots of them.

Third hint – it’s not Microsoft or Apple.

Fourth hint – it’s been around since 1911.

Fifth hint – it shares a nickname with an NFL team.

Sixth hint – the nickname includes the words big and blue.


Yes, it’s Big Blue, or IBM.  They had 7,355 patents issued to them in 2015.  We figure if they spent an average of $10K per patent (it’s probably more, but let’s err on the side of caution), they dropped a cool 73.5 million on patents in one year alone.  GO BIG BLUE!

So who was #2 and where are Microsoft and Apple?  The top 15 are below:

Rank        #Patents   Company                                                           Country




International Business Machines Corp


United States




  Samsung Electronics Co Ltd






  Canon KK






  Qualcomm Inc


United States




  Google Inc


United States




  Toshiba Corp






  Sony Corp






  LG Electronics Inc






  Intel Corp


United States




  Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC


United States




  Apple Inc


United States




  Samsung Display Co Ltd






Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co






  General Electric Co


United States




  Ricoh Co Ltd




This data is from the IFI Claims Patent Services website:


The other side of non-disclosure agreements


Richard Gearhart, Esq., Founder, Gearhart Law

What is the purpose of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)?

Many inventors and investors alike think an NDA exists solely to protect an idea or invention from thievery.  Based on that, the investor may balk at signing it.  Why would an investor steal your idea when he or she is funding it, after all? 

BUT – Although the NDA does guard against theft of your intellectual property, it has another, and, I would argue, almost more important function in the patent world.

How could that be?  First let’s talk about what a public disclosure is and how an NDA prevents this, then we’ll discuss why it means so much for patents.   A public disclosure happens when you tell another person about your invention (unless they’re a co-inventor).   But, if you have a signed NDA from the person with whom you’re discussing the invention, then it’s not public, so no public disclosure has taken place.

Who cares about a public disclosure?  The US patent office does, and foreign patent offices too, but they’re much more strict.  In the US, you have one year in which to file a patent after a public disclosure.  In legalese it’s called a ‘one year bar’.  If you don’t file within that year, you can NEVER get a patent on your invention as disclosed.  If you make significant changes to your invention you may be able to patent the modified version, but that’s not even a sure bet. 

How can foreign countries be more strict than that?  They don’t even give you that year.  Once you’ve made a public disclosure of your invention, you can NEVER get a patent in Europe or in a number of other countries either.  In legalese that’s called an ‘absolute bar’.

So what is a public disclosure?  It’s telling anyone about your idea or invention if they’re not a co-inventor and they haven’t signed an NDA.  You may do this, for instance, if you present a detailed description of your invention at a conference, during a pitch presentation, display it at a trade show, or even sell just one item or tell one investor.  If you do that, you’d better have a patent on file already or you’ve just lost all of your patent rights in Europe and other countries for that invention.

Please note – you can tell your patent professional about your invention without its being a public disclosure.  Most patent professionals (and certainly the team here at Gearhart Law) have a blanket NDA covering everything they discuss with clients.  If you’re using a law firm, you also have attorney/client privilege, and your attorney won’t discuss your idea with anyone else without your permission.

So yes, the NDA protects against thievery, and unfortunately thievery does happen.  But if you’re working with an investor who doesn’t want to sign an NDA because he or she isn’t a thief and expects you to trust them, please tactfully remind them of the importance of the NDA for preserving your patent rights in Europe and elsewhere.


Israel and Innovation - a Good Match

written by David Postolski, Patent Attorney at Gearhart Law

Having been invited to present at the AIPLA and AIPPI Conference March 20-22, 2016, in Tel Aviv to speak about Post Grant Review proceedings for patents, I was honored to travel to Israel. I must admit that my trip to Israel was one filled with doubt and fear of the unknown, having not been there for almost 15 years, and never having gone as a professional Intellectual Property attorney.

However now my trip to the Holy Land of Israel is complete. Wow! To sum it up: Having traveled there before because my father is in fact Israeli the surprise had more to do with my first time being in Israel as a professional, in a suit, with cufflinks, and as part of the AIPLA (American Intellectual Property Law Association) delegation of 13 U.S. Intellectual Property and patent lawyers and as a speaker at the AIPPI (International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property) Conference on the economy of innovation. 

Israel takes its IP seriously both in high tech and life sciences and rightfully so, as it is the startup nation and is now known as the scale up nation. Israel has the highest per capita of Ph.D.s and the technology and Pharma research to back it up.  Speaking on post grant review proceedings was an honor and experiencing Israel through the eyes of their patent attorneys (equivalent to U.S. patent agents) was rather eye opening for me.  

The delegation tour started with a visit to Israel’s Ministry of Justice IP division where we met with advocate Howard Poliner and then continued to the Israel patent office where we met with the commissioner of patents Asa Kling.  The discussion was not only exciting but eye opening to learn of Israel’s high ranking place in the world of innovation and international patent filings.  We then visited the first of two technology transfer offices of Israel’s largest universities. First, we visited Yissum Research and Development Hebrew University in Jerusalem (responsible for diverse inventions ranging from the seedless cherry tomato, Mobileye technology for automobiles and their dementia drug Exelon). A few days later we visited the technology transfer office of Ben Gurion University, a world leader in agricultural innovations. The university is located in a cyber park in the city of Be'er Sheva, which is fast becoming and is appropriately named Israelis hi-tech park. Companies from all over the world have opened offices there and the energy is frenetic and exciting to be around. 

At the Conference we heard from many dignitaries including but not limited to Israel’s Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, Israel Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer,  India Supreme Court Justice AK Sikri, Director General of the World IP Law Organization (WIPO) and members of Israel’s Chief Scientist Office (CSO). The CSO mission is to match and fund businesses that want to move into world markets as well as assist U.S. businesses to move into and break into markets.   Due to its size it's very easy to see that the key innovation players in Israel have put the country in a strategic place among the top five countries for IP (U.S., Europe, China, Japan, and Korea).   

When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, Israel was referred to as a "good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey..."  Scholars have said that the key word is "flowing." Fruit trees grow in many different terrains, but their produce only overflows with nectar or honey when the land is especially fertile.  Similarly, animals survive in many habitats, but only overflow with milk when they are in particularly fertile pastures.  Thus, Israel is often referred to as a "land flowing with milk and honey" as it is indicative and symptomatic of a greater good—the fertility of the Promised Land.  Israel is now known as the startup nation or in more recent years the scale up nation. Innovation is in their DNA. Invention is what built Israel as the startup nation and invention will take this fertile nation of entrepreneurs and lead them into the future as the scale up nation. 



Michele Logan, CEO of CompoSecure to speak at FDU on April 1st



                               Michele Logan, CEO of CompoSecure

written by Elizabeth Gearhart, Ph.D., patent agent at Gearhart Law

We all use them.  Credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, etc.  But have you ever thought about how they’re made?  Maybe you have a new ‘chip’ card.  How do they encrypt the cards to keep your bank account safe? 

Michele Logan, CEO of CompoSecure will tell all (well, probably not ALL!).

Michele will be presenting the 13th Annual Female Entrepreneur Lecture at Fairleigh Dickinson University on April 1st at 7pm in Lenfell Hall at The Mansion. 

                  RSVP at
             The cost of $35.00 includes hors d'oeuvres and refreshments.

Michele, who has an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson U., started the business in 2000 with partners John Herslow and Luis Dasilva, who had all worked together at Sillcocks Plastics.  Their combined talents resulted in tremendous innovation and business growth that led them to move their plant to Somerset in 2014. 

This event is presented by the Silberman School of Business and The Rothman Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at FDU. This truly is a New Jersey success story, so please join us for an interesting evening this Friday.  We’re all sure to learn something new!


IP protection in Cuba


written by Elizabeth Gearhart, Ph.D., patent agent at Gearhart Law

I want to do business in Cuba – can I get patent and trademark protection there?
Short answer – yes!

Let’s start with patents.
In order to file patent applications in other countries, a U.S. inventor must first file in the U.S., then they may file, or ‘nationalize’ in other countries.  There is a way to hold your filing date in a number of foreign countries (148 as of today) while you decide which ones are the best to pursue nationalization in for your product, and that is to file a ‘PCT’ application once your U.S. patent application is filed.  Once the PCT application is on file, you have 18 months to decide which countries you want to do business in.   

PCT is short for Patent Cooperation Treaty, which is a treaty that countries sign on to, with a set of rules for filing in each others’ countries.   The U.S. joined the PCT in 1978.  For a list of member countries, click here.  Using the PCT saves entrepreneurs a lot of money.

Is Cuba part of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)?
Yes, Cuba joined the PCT in 1996.  That means that if you’ve filed a PCT application for your patent, you can choose to nationalize the patent in Cuba and keep your original filing date (very important for ‘first to file’ countries such as Cuba!).   Nationalization means that you go through all the steps in Cuba that you would in the U.S., with a patent examiner, office actions, etc.  It’s expensive, so most people choose their nationalization countries after having tested their product in the markets there while their product has ‘patent pending’ status.

What about Trademarks?
A system similar to the PCT exists for trademarks.  It’s called the ‘Madrid Protocol’ and has 97 contracting countries.  You can see the list here.

Is Cuba part of the Madrid Protocol?
Yes, Cuba joined the Madrid Protocol in 1995, and is a ‘first to file’ country for trademarks as well as patents.

How do I get started doing business in Cuba?
There are already some big businesses operating in Cuba, and more ready to go.  Airbnb is ready to help American Tourists visit the country as soon as possible, and cruise ships are adding Cuba as a port of call.  There are people who are experts in dealing with business in Cuba, I would contact one of them if I were considering doing business there, after I got my PCT and Madrid Protocol applications filed.   And I’d brush up on my Spanish!


Behind the Scenes at The NJ Devils & Hockey too! April 9th starting at 5pm


New Jersey Devils Behind the Scenes Panel Discussion:
The Technology, Social Marketing & Operations of the only major professional sports team to embrace the NJ name
Last regular season game immediately after - fan appreciation night!
Saturday April 9th 5pm at The Prudential Center in Newark

Hosted by Morris Tech Meetup in conjunction with New Jersey's other Top Tech Meetups - sign up here:  NJ Devils/Tech Meetup - families welcome!

Technology – From senior technology executives and engineers, possibly including the President and CTO, on how the NJ Devils use technology in their everyday operations, how technology has changed professional sports organizations over the last 20 years and innovations planned for the future.

Social Media, Marketing & Communications – How do the Devils communicate with fans, sponsors and the community? How have they harnessed current technology to increase attendance and involvement? How do they interact with fans during the game day experience?

Game Day Operations & Scoreboard – What goes into hosting up to 20,000 people on game day? How does staff (security, vendors, executives) communicate and ensure a quality experience for fans? What systems and logistics go into the scoreboard, PA and arena mounted displays during a game?

Ice Surface Maintenance – How do they switch from hockey to concerts and how fast? How is the symbols and ads painted on the surface? How do they melt and bring back the ice surface?

Hosting at The Prudential Center in Newark NJ
SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 2016 at 5:00 PM
Our group will enter at the VIP EAST entrance and will be directed or escorted to the private meetup space from there
$45 for the entire event includes:
* Meetup featuring a panel discussion of NJ Devils executives which may include the President, CTO, Chief Engineer of the Prudential Center and other technology and marketing staff. Cash bar available
* Enjoy Fan Appreciation Night at the last game of the season vs Toronto Maple Leafs. Puck drops at 7:00pm. Fireworks outside the arena about a half hour after the game.
* Price of ticket includes a $10 meal voucher!!!
* Depending on size of group, after game activities may include: Group photo on the game ice or using NHL hockey sticks to shoot pucks into a net from the blue line

Sign up at Event Bright here: NJ Devils/Tech Meetup

Patents by State - how does your state stack up?


written by Elizabeth Gearhart, Ph.D., Patent Agent at Gearhart Law

Which state had the most patents granted in 2014?  Who came in second?  Which foreign country had the most US patents granted in 2014?  The answers may surprise you, or not!  The USPTO keeps tracks of these stats and lists them here.

In brief, the 5 states with the highest numbers were:
California - 40,661
Texas - 10,022
New York - 8904
Massachusetts - 6,725
Washington - 6,448

New Jersey wasn't too far behind with 5,036.

Apple, Microsoft and IBM, to name a few, had a lot to do with those numbers.  But a host of innovation comes from small enterprises, people like you, smart inventors with great ideas who don't have the backing of a giant corporation.

Which foreign country was the highest?  I was a little surprised to see that Japan led the pack with 53,849 US patents granted in 2014. 

The top 5 were:
Japan - 53,849
Germany - 16,550
South Korea - 16,469
Taiwan - 11,332
China - 7236
Total US patents granted in 2014, both for US and foreign applications?  300,678. 

For 2014 there were 144,621 US patents granted to US inventors, and 156,057 US patents granted to inventors from foreign countries.  

Ten years before in 2004 it was just 164,290, about half. The breakdown between US and foreign inventors tracked about the same.

What does this mean for you?  If you've got an idea, you're in good company!  Do you absolutely need to get a patent?  No, but it's a good idea.  There are different types of patents that cost varying amounts and offer differing levels of protection, and there are also trade secrets, trade marks and copyrights, all of which fall under the Intellectual Property umbrella.  If you're serious about taking your idea to the next level, talk to an Intellectual Property professional to see what strategy is best for you. 

Happy inventing!