How Can I Determine If a Patent Is Expired?

A common question (or variation) I get asked is "I have an idea that is based on that is based on a product that was patented at one point, how can I tell if the product is still patented so I don't infringe? "

Start-ups ask this question to 1) try to limit their liability even if they are modifying a product, 2) if the start-up is modifying a product they may have to get a license for the assignee of the patent to make their product , and it would be a much cheaper process without having to pay the license fees.

To answer this question, it is important to take a step back and understand the "life cycle" of a patent application. Upon filing an application, a patent is given an application number, these generally are in the form of XX / XXX, XXX. 18 months after the application is filed, the application will publish and be given a publication number in the form of XXXX / XXX, XXXX. Depending on what technology the invention is around 2-3 years after filing the application, the USPTO will look at the application and if the claimed invention is different than what is known a patent will be granted with a patent number in the form of USXXX, XXXX. If a patent has not granted for an invention, that start-up does not have any intellectual property which the can sue under.

Applications that are granted as patents may give the holder protection for 20 years from the date the application was filed. Accordingly, if a start-up filed an application on Jan 1, 2000 they can have intellectual property protection up until Jan 1, 2020, when the patent will expire. However, patents and applications themselves can expire or be abandoned before their full term expires.

Applications can become abandoned for various reasons. Typically, before an application becomes a granted patent, there will be several office actions (correspondences between the USPTO and an attorney). If the startup or attorney fails to respond to an office action, the application will become abandoned. Upon the patent office determining that a patent should be granted on a patent application, an "issue fee" must be paid. This issue fee is pretty steep $ 1,770 for large companies, $ 885 for small entities. Accordingly, after a 3-5 year period from initially filing the application, a startup may determine that the invention disclosed in the application is no longer profitable or may just not want to pay the fee. The application at this point will become abandoned without ever being granted.

If the start-up pays the issue fee the application is granted. However, a patent term MAY be 20 years. Maintenance fees must be paid for the patent at the 3.5 year mark after the patent is granted ($ 1,150), 7.5 year mark after the patent is granted ($ 2,900) and 11.5 year mark after the patent is granted ($ 4,810). As a note, these fees are reduced in …

Debt Vs. Equity

As a hard money lender, I get calls daily from real estate investors wanting help funding their next project. Many of them are so focused on one way to do it, they sometimes miss opportunities to make money. It was a few months ago I spoke with an investor that wanted us to fund a deal in Denver. It was a fix and flip and the deal had merit. It would have likely produced a sizable profit. Unfortunately, we may never know. He lost the deal for lack of funding. What happened? He did not understand the different ways to fund real estate deals and was not willing to listen to advice. The fact is that sometimes an investor needs to get creative which could lead to less profit. But, in this case, a piece of something would have been a lot better than all of nothing.

Debt: Debt is the simplest to understand and the least creative. Debt is just a loan. There are multiple types of loans; bank loans, conventional loans, government loans, private money loans, hard money loans, and several others. Debt generally takes no ownership stake in your deal and you won’t need to give up control. In real estate, loans are typically secured by the project, but sometimes you can use other properties or assets as additional collateral. That is referred to as cross collateralization or blanket financing and is about as creative as it comes with debt. Lenders typically want a set rate of return, so when you borrower money you will likely pay fees and a set interest rate. You will also probably have a set amount of time to return the money. Debt is the cheaper of the two options, but is riskier for two reasons:

  • Debt holders get paid back first. If there is a problem with the project, the lender is the last one to ever take a loss. In fact, it is common in a loss situation that the owners take the loss and the lenders get paid back in full, including all interest and fees. This is why many savvy investors choose to lend money or work with companies that do.
  • Most lenders will also require monthly payments which creates pressure for a project.

Qualifying for debt is typically a bit more challenging than equity. Most banks and conventional lenders base their loan decision on cash flow. That creates a problem with fix and flips because fix and flips have no monthly cash flow. In fact, they have no positive cash flow until the project is done and sold. Other qualifying factors are important too, like credit, reserves, and the collateral. To some lenders, like commercial banks, your credibility is also a factor. Creditability is the lender’s belief you can handle the project, so they will look at experience and possibly want to interview you. Except for a fix and flip or new construction, no lender I know will make a loan on a property with negative cash …

Underpinning a Basement: Is It a a Job?

If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.

It is the age of Do-It-Yourself or DIY. If you believe the internet, every job under the sun is a DIY job. You may have noticed home improvement websites claiming that underpinning a basement is a DIY job. It can be completed successfully with step-by-step procedure mentioned on the websites. But, is it true? Before putting on your work boots, consider the following things:


Today, the internet is the primary source of information for everything. You may have researched for several hours and read everything related to underpinning a basement. But, do you have the experience to undertake such a complex engineering process?

If you work in the construction industry and have knowledge about underpinning a basement, you can decide to undertake the underpinning process on your own. But, remember that it will require your dedicated efforts.

Structural Engineer

A structural engineer is required to make sure that your home can sustain the underpinning process. If you decide to start the work without consulting an expert, you may harm the structural integrity of your home.

Permit from the Local Government

Before starting the underpinning process, you will have to follow different types of laws and regulations such as building permits and zoning regulations. Obtaining a permit from the local government is a complicated procedure because it involves several documents. Are you ready for it?

Permission from the Neighbor

If you share a wall with a neighbor, the foundation of his home will be affected by the underpinning process. You will have to assure him of the safety of his home. Underpinning contractors have experience of dealing with neighbors on a regular basis. So, it is ideal to hire a contractor and let him / her undertake the task of convincing your neighbor.

Find Equipment and Handyman

Underpinning a basement requires specific equipment for excavating earth under the foundation. Even if you rent the equipment, you might not have the experience to use it. In such a situation, you will have to spend a lot of your time in finding handyman with experience of using the equipment. So, it is wise to hire an underpinning contractor because his team of talented handyman will take care of the underpinning work efficiently.

Underpinning a basement is different from building a kitchen cabinet. It is a complicated engineering process. There are chances of things going wrong quickly. If you start the underpinning process on your own, you may end up making a grave mistake such as damaging the foundation structure of your home. So, it is better to let the experts do their work.

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The Art of Locksmiths (Various Types of Locksmith)

When thinking of a locksmith, most people tend to think of a person whose job is to just make and repair locks. This is because in becoming a locksmith requires no formal education. But with the introduction of technology and gadgets, comes a wide array of locks, which has also lead to a widened scope of work for the locksmiths. This article looks into the various types of locksmiths and the services that they provide.

Residential Locksmith

This is the most common form of locksmith that is reachable within the neighborhood. They efficiently provide services that deal with cases where the homeowner forgets his keys at home or somehow loses it. Usual clients of this type are often those residing in apartments, private homes, or condos. Their task usually consists of modifying the locking system of the main door of the house and a new set of keys to go with it. These locksmiths can also provide assistance in recommending home security locking systems to customers.

Commercial Locksmith

In business, office or school situations, the commercial locksmith is the one for the job. They help the company in establishing the security of the premises and in providing their employees with authorized access. One good example is the biometrics currently used in most offices these days.

Institutional Locksmith

Though this may be similar to the commercial locksmith, they are not the same. Commercial locksmiths are often hired to do contractual based work or may also be hired on an hourly rate. On the other hand, institutional locksmiths are hired to become part of the employee network. Most institutions that require this are colleges, universities, hospitals and government facilities. Not only ate they given the typical job of a locksmith but they are also expected to perform other duties and responsibilities as an employee.

Forensic Locksmith

This is the most exciting and challenging field for a locksmith. It combines the persona of an investigator and the skill of a locksmith. Forensic locksmiths help in criminal investigations by using a special set of tools. These tools help them in determining how a lock, security system or key system was hacked. They possess the ability of providing evidences of a crime scene, as well as facts that may be gathered which may help in identifying suspects.

Auto Locksmith

The auto locksmith or also known as a car locksmith, are the lifesavers of those who forget their keys inside their car. In situations like this, auto locksmiths efficiently open the vehicle without having to compromise the car door’s lock or even its windows. They also use a set of specialized tools in order to perform these services.

Emergency Locksmith

Locksmiths of this type are available 24/7, and may be called upon in situations where an intruder has broken into the house. Regardless of the time and place they are always ready to provide assistance. Emergency locksmiths are skilled at repairing the lock system that is likely destroyed by burglars. They are also called mobile locksmiths.…

Free Government Grants – How to Apply For Free Government Grants

Government grants are available to most person living in the United States. Most people do not know that even as an individual, you stand a chance of being granted by the government. You can use the money to fund your property or car purchase, to get out of debt and to finance your daily expenses.

In this article, you are going to learn the steps to apply for free government grants online. You will find that after reading this article, applying for government grants is not that hard after all.

Step #1 Find the Right Grants

Proceed to Once there, you will find a huge database of information on various types of grants. Slowly scroll through the site and jot down all the Opportunity Number of the grants that are necessary to you. The Opportunity Number will be needed in your grant application later on so jotting down on a piece of paper will save you a lot of time and effort referring back to the list.

Step #2 Registration

Before you are able to apply for free government grants, you must register for an account with On the registration page, you must apply for at least one government grant to get started. Key in one of the Opportunity Numbers that you have jotted down earlier.

After that, you will arrive at an authorization site where you should be able to verify your registration details and provide your digital signature. During the course of registration, you will be prompted for your details such as name, address, phone number, e-mail address and your birth date. Your desired username and password will be required for the registration as well.

Step #3 Authorization

After the registration process, you will be receiving an authorization e-mail or letter via snail mail. You should be given some steps needed in order to complete your free government grants application. More information may be needed for certain types of grants and approval may take two weeks to one month.

Step #4 Rinse and Repeat

There might be more than one government grants that you can apply. Look through the list of grants on again. You might have fulfilled the criteria needed for some of the grants. Apply for each and one of them. You have nothing to lose. All these can be done while you have a pending application. You will be surprised later on when you got multiple grants approval.

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What Self Image Will You Choose Today?

Back in the dark ages, when I was in school, we were given IQ tests. If you scored high on them, you were declared a genius. If you scored low, you were shipped off to a technical school where hopefully you would be taught something that would allow you to make money. As I have grown older, I have come to realize that what we become in life has nothing to do with your IQ and everything to do with our SI (self-image).

Let’s do a Dr. Maltz here and look at a tale of two images. Before I start to tell you these stories, I want to let you know that you can hear them for yourselves on the “Zero Resistance Living” CD that is distributed by the Psycho Cybernetics foundation. Developing your self image is at the core of psycho cybernetics.

A young woman finally hears the words that she has been waiting for and marries the man of her dreams. Both she and her husband are employed in high paying jobs and soon purchase their dream home. In order to bolster their self image they are constantly buying new cars and indulging in all of the fine things that life can offer, on credit.

Then one morning, she wakes up to find a “Dear John” letter waiting for her on the kitchen counter. The dream husband has left her and taken all of their money. To add insult to injury, a week later she is terminated from her position and given a compensation package of only 30 days pay. She has no money in the bank, way more credit than she can afford to liquidate, and now she has no job. Her self image is decimated.

She files for bankruptcy and walks away with only a few minor possessions. She is interviews a couple of months later while living in a van in a state park. The news person is anxious to know how she could have fallen so far. She tells them that it is only temporary and that she is working on things that will soon have her back on her feet.

Then, her self image takes a nose dive into failure mode. When the news crew comes back a couple of months later, it is to find that she has committed suicide.

Now, let’s take a look at someone who used a positive self image to create a life that is successful.

Dr. Maltz tells the story of a man who came to one of his speaking engagements. He noticed that the man had difficulty with tasks, such as removing his suit jacket. After the jacket had been removed, he noticed that the man had no hands.

After his speech, Dr. Maltz spoke with the man. The gentleman told him that he had lost both of his hands in an accident several years prior. He, also, told Dr. Maltz that for a while after the accident he thought about taking his own life. Then, …

Free Trade Magazines

Free trade magazines or we can say a best way to understand adopting career change and earn good money, are the baits thrown by the magazine owners to lure customers at once. All the online users must be familiar with such luring offers which often come across. Free trade magazines can prove to be of great importance to the small and medium scale industrialists too, as they provide necessary information about the marketers and government policies affecting the particular industries.

Subscribing a free trade magazine seems to be a very economic affair but, after doing it you will realize the truth lying behind such a sumptuous offer. Companies offering trade magazines for free know the ideal psychology of the people, which is the reason why they claim to provide their products for free initially. Once you subscribe it, you will be asked to pay a particular amount to continue the subscription. The first few editions might be given for free, but gradually you will realize that it was no different than subscribing any other trade magazine with genuine payments.

Paid subscriptions on the other hand are rather transparent in their working. Magazine providers ask for amount initially and do not mislead the customers by proposing unrealistic offers like free trade magazines. Those who like toying with fresh ideas would try using such lucrative offers like free trade magazines at least once. People who want to make it big and require information about how to initiate their business and other related things like to subscribe to trade magazines in general. Trade magazines will provide them with all the essential information and tips to attain their goals. If you are too keen to work out something in a commercially viable way, you might get struck in the beginning even.

Those who like to switch careers need appropriate information to plan their actions. To know what the new line of work entails you need to understand the basics and pre requisites to establish the one of your choice. For all that, you can subscribe to some relevant magazines. There are cases when people with already established career get a feeling to switch to another career where their interest lies. To follow your interests you need to get trained relevantly, so that you could commercialize your services and earn handsome money from it.

To know what remuneration you could attain by opting a new career, and the mode through which you could hone your skills to fit in the industry well, you need perfect and to the point information from a reliable source. For this purpose subscribing to a free magazine seems to be a very beneficial option. Free magazines may ask you about your credit card information initially, but won’t ask you to pay for the trial subscription at that time. Later on to continue the subscription you will have to make the payments as per the magazine provider’s rules.

Some magazines can be used as a part of continuing professional education in …

Save Money on Taxes

Want to strike fear in people hearts? Just mention the IRS! It's one of the most misunderstood government agencies. Our taxes support government operations, and social programs. Indeed without income taxes our health, education, national security and public welfare would be severely compromised or fail. Income taxes are the largest source of federal income and through transfers are a significant supplement to states, counties and municipalities. According to the US Government, income taxes represent approximately one third of all tax revenue collected in United States in 2010. Taxes affect many different aspects of business, government, personal and political decisions. A solid understanding of tax functions is fundamental and extremely useful for taxpayers. It's important to pay your taxes, but it's even more important to not pay too much.

A Tale of Three Accountants

Once upon a time there were 3 accountants. Each was successful and ethical. Our hero, John Taxpayer goes to the first one, and the result is he owes $ 1,000. He decides to get a second opinion, and the result is a $ 500 overpayment. His friend recommends yet another tax preparer, and the outcome is a $ 2,500 refund. How can this happen? The answer is, it happens every day, although the taxpayer does not have the benefit of comparison, because he will typically go to one accountant and not know if his return was filed accurate, and to his benefit. In our example, each return was legally prepared and fully in compliance with the tax code.

Who cares about taxes?

Every taxpayer should care about taxes because they influence everyday decisions including all kinds of investments, estate planning, educational commitments, amount and timing of expenses and even prospective job offers. Moreover, the role of taxes is not only limited to personal financial decisions; taxes play an extremely important role in business world. For example: if the taxpayer considers opening a business. The organizational form of the business should be decided at least partially, on the tax implications, because taxes represent significant transaction costs and can have a significant impact on reported profits. Individuals and businesses should factor potential tax implications into their individual and business economic and financial decision-making processes. Decisions should consider costs and benefits from tax strategy and tax implementation in everyday life or the business cycle.

Complicated Laws and Rules

The tax codes are intentionally complicated. This is the result of congressional actions to benefit certain categories of individuals and businesses. The tax laws reflect a patchwork of special interests; they're more political than business-like or fair. Your task is to use every exemption, deduction, and rule to your advantage so that you will minimize your tax liability. The government job is to make sure you comply with the law and pay your "fair share." Every taxpayer should be aware that tax laws in United States are based on the all-inclusive income concept. The all-inclusive income concept means that every taxpayer is obligated to include as taxable income all realized income from …

The High-Performing Government Agency: Using A Marketing Mindset In The Public Sector

What Are Citizens Getting From Public Agencies?
All too often we hear of government programs that cause inefficient and wasteful allocation of goods and resources. Consider the example of the Australian government home insulation program (HIP), which was designed to prop up business in the wake of the global financial crisis, providing rebates to insulate the ceilings of 2.2 million houses at a cost of (AUS) $ 2.7 billion. As well as claiming that the scheme would create jobs, the government sought to boost its "green" credentials, insisting that home energy bills would be cut dramatically. Countless problems plagued the HIP; houses caught fire, thousands of cases of fraud were claimed, numerous installation companies went bankrupt, and a number of deaths and injuries occurred (despite multiple safety warnings from regulatory agencies). A lack of effectiveness in the program design, administration, and delivery arrangements and a poor management structure for dealing with the risks associated with a rapid program rollout (along with making the program instantly available to millions of household owners and suppliers without first piloting the offering ) were cited by an independent review as the main contributors to the failure of the HIP program. After sustained media pressure, and in an effort to exercise damage control, the program was scrapped in early 2010.

With dwindling budgets and mounting expectations on government agencies to act in the best interests of their customers (the public), a new view about how to best develop and implement such ambitious government programs must be undertaken.

Learning From the Private Sector
Most citizens expect government agencies to develop and run programs that are relevant, efficient, effective, sustainable, and impactful to theirs and the nation's welfare. With their activities under increasing scrutiny by the public, governments need to adopt practices and proven methods that facilitate the successful implementation of public programs. One solution is to adopt the best practice marketing tools that are routinely deployed within the private sector.

When a government department develops a "product" – be it a physical product such as running water in a poor village, an idea such as "don't drink and drive", or the provision of a service such as the upkeep of a national park for visitors – and then prices, distributes, and promotes it to a targeted audience to promote an exchange, marketing is taking place. By providing focus, marketing helps avoid the "knee-jerk reactions" that usually result in wasted time and resources.

Philip Kotler is one of the world's foremost experts on the strategic practice of marketing. In his book, Marketing in the Public Sector, Kotler claims that marketing has been most overlooked and misunderstood by the public sector.

When applying a marketing mindset, Kotler and others would stress that there are obvious differences between public and private sector organizations. They typically have different mandates (citizen interests vs. maximization of shareholder wealth), competitive environments (monopolies vs. competitive markets), and focus (usage levels and cost savings vs. sales and profits).

Moreover, many of the perceptions and behavior …

The Evil of Bloodshed of Innocent People

Numbers 35:33

“So you shall not pollute the land in which you live; for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the bloodshed in it, but by the blood of him who shed it.”

Dear people of God, you can see from today’s lead Holy Bible text that a country’s land is defiled when there is bloodshed of innocent lives in it. Bloodshed is a very offensive act as far as God is concerned.

See what God says in Ezekiel 36:18, “So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land and for their idols with which they had defiled it.”

Drawing from the above verses, it is therefore horrendous to see a nation like Nigeria treat with kid gloves people who shed innocent blood of people who have not committed any crime.

In almost every part of the nation, people are kidnapped and murdered almost on a daily basis. Ritual killers operate freely, terrorists are having a field day, kidnappers are rampaging and collecting ransom from their victims.

Women are raped and killed, spouses are killing each other over very flimsy reasons and no one is arrested or brought to book for these crimes.

To make matters worse, the government does not show any concern, neither are the security agencies bothered about investigating and bringing the culprits to justice.

Every one of them is only busy chasing money, money, money and power, power, power. Many at times, I just wonder what the workers of government and security agencies do when they resume at work from Monday to Friday, every month, all year round.

How exactly does the minds of these people work? Why aren’t they just bothered about these avoidable incidents? Has it occurred to them that there is a spiritual implication to all these unchecked calamities befalling the land?

Why do they carry on as if it is not human lives that are being wasted day in day out almost on a daily basis? How do they sleep at night with these happenings that are within their authority to check?

How can a person receive salary every single month for work he never does and his conscience never bothers him?

Everyone is first a human being before belonging to any other group or association by whatever name. Human life is sacred to God.

This is a wakeup call to Christians of Nigeria descent living within and outside the country. Let us go on our knees sincerely and ask God to have mercy on this nation called Nigeria.

Let us ask God to intervene to put an end to the bloodshed. Let us sincerely repent of sin and evil. Let us as Christians amend our own ways and determine to conform to the standards of the Holy Bible. Let us stop bribery and corruption.

Let Christians wake up to their responsibilities and be the light of Christ wherever we find ourselves. Let us stop …