• October 5, 2012

    501(c)(3) Non-Profit Status by Todd Chawansky, Associate Attorney and Rachel A. Hobbs, CLA

    Being a 501(c)(3) corporation means that organization has received a tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.  In order to obtain tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must demonstrate to the IRS that the funds it receives are not-for-profit and are used to support a charitable cause or purpose.  The corporation relies on donations and fundraising in order to carry out the organization’s mission.

    A 501(c)(3) status is a benefit to the corporation and its donors.  Some of those benefits are:

    Tax-exemption.
    A 501(c)(3) organization is exempt from federal income tax for all activities relating to its mission.  Additionally, in Michigan, a 501(c)(3) organization is exempt from state sales tax.

    Credibility.
    The 501(c)(3) status demonstrates to the greater community that the organization is held accountable through its established bylaws, mission statement, corporate records, and financial reporting requirements.  Maintaining the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS encourages the future success of the organization by establishing a foundation of professionalism and legitimacy to generate and encourage membership as well as to entice donors to support the organization.

    Tax Deductible Donations.
    In order for the IRS to recognize that a donation to a charitable organization is tax deductible, the organization must have 501(c)(3) status (or pending application status).  Such status is particularly appealing if you solicit donations for large events like an auction or carnival.  Due to the known tax advantage, some large companies or corporations will donate only to an organization with the 501(c)(3) status.

    Grants.
    Various grant programs require applicants to possess 501(c)(3) status in order to receive funding to benefit the organization’s mission and cause.

    To learn more about obtaining 501(c)(3) status for your organization, contact Ed Pear or Todd Chawansky of Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels, P.C. at (734) 665–4441.

  • August 9, 2012

    United States Patent and Trademark Office Opens First Satellite Office in Detroit by Todd Chawansky, Associate Attorney

    On July 13, 2012, the United States Patent and Trademark Office opened the first-ever satellite office in Detroit, located at 300 River Place Drive.  The building, which is listed on the National Historic Registry, was once home to Parke-Davis Laboratories, as well as the Stroh’s Brewery Headquarters.

    The building is officially named The Elijah J. McCoy Office, after one of the region’s most famed investors.  McCoy was an inventor from Ypsilanti, whose oil-drip lubricating cup was so dependable that it coined the term “the real McCoy.”  The USPTO expects the Office to create about 120 highly-skilled jobs in just the first year.  These positions include administrative judges and support staff, but primarily patent examiners to help reduce the backlog of pending applications and patent appeals.

    “Today’s expansion into Detroit fuels a new 21st-century innovation era for our country,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director David Kappos.  “The USPTO’s Elijah J. McCoy Office brings our nation’s innovation agency to the doorsteps of Michigan’s inventors and entrepreneurs, while also spurring new opportunity, growth, and jobs.  That’s what this Office represents and that’s what the Motor City has always been about.”

    The Detroit Office beat out Denver, Colorado, Silicon Valley, California, and Dallas, Texas, as the first satellite office, but sites in these cities are expected to open within the next three years.

    If you have questions about the patent process or how to register a federal trademark, please contact Todd Chawansky at Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels, P.C.  Mr. Chawansky can be reached at (734) 665-4441 or tchawansky@psedlaw.com.

  • June 11, 2012

    An Introduction to U.S. Patent Protection by Todd Chawansky, Associate Attorney

    Think you have the next great idea?  Have you improved an existing technology by making it easier or more efficient?  If so, then you may be entitled to protect your idea by obtaining a patent.  In the U.S., a patent is a way to prevent others from using, making, selling, offering to sell or importing your invention in the U.S for a limited time.  You are granted this right for 20 years from the date you file your application.

    To begin the process of obtaining a patent, you must file an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  These applications are very technical and must meet several basic requirements.  Among other things, the application includes a specification, which details in very clear, concise and exact terms how to make or use the invention so that someone else will be able to make or use your idea after reading it.  An application must also include drawings to further define and illustrate the invention.  Lastly, an application must include at least one claim.  A claim is what features or elements the inventor regards as entitled to protection.

    Once your application is complete, it is filed with the USPTO where it will be examined by someone with a background that matches the field of your invention.  The examiner will search multiple databases to determine if your invention is new, useful and is not obvious in light of previous inventions.  After the examiner has completed the search, the applicant has an opportunity to respond to any rejections

    or reasons for not allowing the claims.  If the examiner and the applicant agree that some or all of the claims are allowed, then the USPTO will grant you a patent protecting those claims.

    The entire patent process, from filing an application to receiving an issued patent, varies in time according to several factors.  The time a particular application will be pending at the USPTO depends on the complexity of the subject matter of the invention, the backlog and number of examiners at the USPTO, etc.  Applicants will usually receive the first Office Action within 12-15 months and most patents will be granted between 2-6 years from the filing date.

    Patent protection is a very valuable asset and provides the inventor with an enforceable right for a relatively long period of time.  The process is very technical and failing to take the proper precautions can result in a potentially lucrative idea being deprived of some, if not all, of its protection.  Consulting with a registered patent attorney or agent before starting the application process is recommended to give you the best chance of receiving a quality patent.

    The USPTO has announced its first ever satellite office will be opening in Detroit during the summer of 2012.  The high number of engineers and research professionals in the area played a part in the decision to bring the office to Detroit and it is certainly a welcomed addition to Southeastern Michigan.

    If you have any questions about patents or would like to know if you are entitled to patent protection, please contact Todd Chawansky or any other attorney at the offices of Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels, P.C.