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New database could help new companies avoid intellectual property disputes

New business owners have a lot to think about when starting a company: what should the company be called? What product will be sold? What sort of slogan will be used to grab the attention of consumers?

About a hundred questions later you realize that just about everything you need in order to make your business or company legitimate, you need copyrights and patents. Though patent data is supposed to be public knowledge, many new business owners are finding themselves in the middle of lawsuits over patent infringement and intellectual property theft when it's all said and done.

But why? If patents are public knowledge, how are these new companies being sued?

The answer to this question, experts say, is because there are hidden landmines in the process. According to experts, there are many companies, such as Intellectual Ventures, that buy patents under the guise of shell companies then sue new companies for patent infringement and intellectual property disputes.

In an attempt to stop practices like this from happening, a company called IP Checkups Inc. intends on starting up a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced project aimed at revealing Intellectual Ventures' patent portfolio and make it freely available to the public. It is the company's hope that this will give new companies more of a heads-up when creating products so that they don't fall victim to what some call "patent trolling."

Protecting small and new businesses will not be the only target market, in fact, IP Checkups Inc. hopes to help larger companies as well. Many people in Texas and beyond are familiar with the recent lawsuit between Apple and Samsung that deal with the same matter of intellectual property theft and patent infringement.

Creators of IP Checkups Inc. hope to have a working database by sometime next year.

Source: Bloomberg.com, "Intellectual Ventures, Renault: Intellectual Property," Victoria Slind-Flor, Oct. 15, 2012

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