229: The Frameworks of Patenting for Hardware Startups

229: Overview of Patenting for Hardware Startups

June 7, 2024

With Tom Dunlap, Managing Partner at Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig

Hosted by Kevin Mako, President of MAKO Design + Invent

229: Overview of Patenting for Hardware Startups
229: Overview of Patenting for Hardware Startups

Are you looking to secure a patent or curious about what kind of intellectual property protection will best protect your brilliant ideas? Tom Dunlap has all the answers you’re looking for and more. For 22 years, Tom has been the driving force behind Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig. He also imparts his expertise in patent law at Lafayette College and has developed numerous books on the frameworks of IP protection. Today, Tom is set to share his insight into this important topic with inventors, startups, and small manufacturers. He will detail the distinctions between provisional patents, utility patents, design patents, copyrights, and trademarks, as well as best practices for ensuring optimal IP protection for your new physical product invention.

Here are the key takeaways from the episode:

  • Securing patent protection for your invention product as a hardware startup is absolutely critical!
  • A utility patent protects the product’s function, essentially how it works.
  • A design patent protects the physical design of a product, essentially how it looks.
  • Trademarks are another form of intellectual property protection that protects your brand, for example, McDonald’s and its gold arches.
  • Copyright protection protects a range of supportive items, such as code, instruction manuals, and text pertinent to the product.
  • Trade Secrets refer to pieces of information you want to keep private about your product or brand so other companies cannot replicate your success.
  • A provisional patent is not really a patent. It is more like a temporary bookmark you have to file within a year of developing your novel product.
  • Provisional patents are only good if you are in a hurry or budget-constrained.
  • One patent application can be submitted for protection in several countries through certain platforms. This makes it easy to file in multiple countries.
  • What is the difference between independent claims and dependent claims?
  • All you own by securing a patent is what you have claimed.
  • Is it better to submit a narrow or broad claim – especially if your product will improve greatly in the next year or so?

Tom Dunlap Links:

LinkedIn | Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig

The Product Startup Podcast Links:


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MAKO Design + Invent Links:


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Kevin Mako Links:

Instagram | LinkedIn | Quora | Facebook | Twitter

Producer: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to the above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories.