Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Entrepreneurship hosted a discussion Wednesday at its CSUF Startup Incubator overviewing what up-and-coming entrepreneurs should know before pursuing a patent for their inventions.
The event featured David Jafari, a patent attorney licensed in Orange County who has been involved in intellectual property, business law and employment matters. With 17 years of experience, Jafari offered insight on patents and how to avoid making mistakes with them.
“It’s a property right that the government grants to the inventor of the idea that’s memorialized and claimed in that document. It’s a contract between the state and the inventor,” Jafari said.
Jafari said one of the most important rules in getting an idea patented is first actually understanding what is considered non-patentable subject matter.
“You cannot patent laws of nature. That has to be available to everybody. That’s a discovery, that’s not an invention,” Jafari said. “With an abstract idea, you come up with a formula for example or a way of solving of a mathematical equation. Those kinds of things cannot be monopolized.”
After an entrepreneur files a registration application with the patent office, Jafari said the trademark cannot be confusingly similar to products or businesses that already exist.
“If I come up with a coffee shop and call it Starducks, do you think Starbucks is going to have a problem with that? It’s not Starbucks, it’s Starducks. It’s confusingly similar,” Jafari said. “The law says that ‘Yes, you can own it and all you have to do is choose it, and you will own it but please, make sure it’s arbitrary.’”
Phillip Stinis, who graduated with a master’s degree in business from Cal State Fullerton in 2011, continues to be a key part of the CSUF Startup Incubator and the events they offer business students.
Stinis said he was impressed with Jafari’s presentation and was constantly taking notes throughout on how to improve his craft.
“I thought that it was really interesting to see that you can have an improvement on a patent and actually file for a new patent application,” Stinis said. “You can also license ideas as well.”
Luke Daley, an entrepreneurship major who transferred to CSUF from Orange Coast College, was immediately attracted to the events that Fullerton’s entrepreneurship program offered.
“The entrepreneurship program was a really positive one for me. It was one of those things where it takes you away from just theory and normal schoolwork, which is kind of boring,” Daley said. “It sticks you in real-world scenarios and situations. You kind of just run with it and get to figure things out as you go.”
The CSUF Center of Entrepreneurship will host another round table event for students and faculty Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. on what it takes to start a successful business.
Priscilla Bui contributed to this report