High Swartz Attorney Robert E. Gordon Named Trademark Committee Chair for PBA IP Section

High Swartz is pleased to announce that attorney Robert E. Gordon has been named Trademark Committee Chair for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Intellectual Property Section for the 2020-2021 term.

Robert E. Gordon primarily practices in civil litigation matters with an added focus on intellectual property in High Swartz’s Doylestown office. He is admitted to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and has experience in authoring patentability and infringement opinions, as well as drafting and prosecuting patent and trademark applications.

“I am very grateful to have been offered Trademark Committee Chair for the upcoming term. After years of involvement with the IP Law sections of the Montgomery and Bucks County Bar Associations, I am very eager to take the next step as a council member and committee chair at the Pennsylvania Bar Association.” Mr. Gordon said.

About the Pennsylvania Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Section

The Intellectual Property Law Section’s purpose is to promote the development of the Pennsylvania law and educate the community about the dynamic subject of intellectual property. Members participate in monthly virtual meetings that also include presentations by Intellectual Property industry leaders.

The IP Law Section has a number of committee chairs, each for a different legal discipline within the practice area. Each committee chair is to apprise the other chairs and members present at the monthly meeting of new law and developments in their respective discipline. The committee chairs of the IP Law section include:

  • Publicity & Membership
  • Trade Secrets
  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights
  • Patents
  • Newsletter & Writing Contest

A significant event held by the IP Section is its annual writing competition. Established in 2004, it allows second and third-year law students to provide their insight on copyrights, trademarks patents, trade secrets, and other intellectual property-relted fields. Winners receive a cash prize. You can read previous year’s winning submissions here.

College-Bound Kids? Why a Power of Attorney is More Important Than Ever

With the possibility of students returning to school during a pandemic, making sure they make the right decisions regarding their health is paramount.

This blog was edited and updated from a former blog by Estates Attorney Stephanie A. Henrick for the current climate amidst the pandemic.

Colleges and univerisities across the country are releasing their return-to-school plans in an effort to address the uncertainty for students and staff. Will in-class teaching be available? Will every student be able to attend? What about safety practices and social distancing? All of these questions will need to be addressed before any decision can be made. And with the unpredictability of the coronavirus, those plans could change in an instant.

Whether your child is a freshman or returning senior, the most important question you’ll ask yourself is whether it will be a safe place for them. What will happen if my child gets sick or hurt? For this reason, more importantly, it is also time for them to consider a Medical Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney.

Why do I need a medical power of attorney for my college-bound child?

Doctors, hospitals and even the college they are attending are limited in what information can be shared with parents or other adults. Without a Medical Power of Attorney, a parent, even one paying their tuition, covering their health insurance and claiming them as a dependent on their tax return, could be helpless to aid their adult child if an emergency arises. A Power of Attorney for medical and financial matters allows your college-bound child to appoint someone to handle these matters for them if they are unable or unavailable to handle it themselves.

You cannot rely on documents executed through the school since they are limited to accessing school records and in limited circumstances, to medical treatment at the school only. To assist your student or any young adult, a power of attorney, which includes access to medical records and treatment must be executed. It is best to have these documents drafted by an estates attorney and not rely on forms downloaded from the internet as they may not meet all of the necessary legal requirements.

Proper planning can allow your young adult to appoint the person or persons they trust to handle financial and medical matters for them. If they have a serious illness or accident, having these documents in place can save the family time and significant costs by avoiding the immediate need to seek a court appointed guardian. If they are traveling abroad and need assistance with matters at home, a Durable Power of Attorney will allow their agent to handle banking transactions, sign tax returns and many other types of matters for them.

A young adult, or any adult for that matter, should take the time to be sure these documents are in place before they become necessary. Please call one of our estate planning attorneys for more information.

If you have any questions about a Medical Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney, please contact the estate planning attorneys at High Swartz at 610-275-0700 or via our contact form.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

2021 *Updated* Real Estate Tax Appeal Deadlines in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Tax appeal deadlines are approaching for the filing of tax appeals throughout Pennsylvania. Make sure you know when your appeal must be submitted to be considered for the 2021 tax year.

PA County Important Dates

Montgomery County: The official deadline for filing appeals in Montgomery County is August 1 – since that date falls on a Saturday this year, applicants would be advised to submit their application by July 31.

Chester County and Bucks County: Both use the first business day in August as the deadline, which this year will be August 3.

Delaware County has undergone a countywide reassessment for 2021 (read more about that process here) and will allow appeals to be filed until September 1. This deadline was pushed from the original date of August 10 pursuant to an emergency order of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.

Philadelphia County: appeals are due no later than the first Monday in October, which falls on October 5.

Deadlines in most other counties throughout Pennsylvania are between August 1 and October 1.

Property assessments – and the tax bills that are calculated from them – are often very difficult for property owners to interpret and fully understand. Assessments are often some percentage of actual fair market value, and determining your property’s actual fair market value can be a bit complex.

A challenge to your property’s assessment is usually best supported for residential properties by evidence such as an appraisal, recent sales data for comparable properties, or other sources of information and support. Several other factors might be considered for commercial or investment properties, like the cost approach or income approach to valuation, each of which can involve compiling significant amounts of data and applying nuanced analysis and legal arguments. Real estate attorney Bill Kerr addresses the questions some commercial property owners may have here.

At High Swartz, our attorneys have many years of experience representing property owners in counties all across the state in appeals on properties ranging from single family homes to high-value commercial properties to multi-million dollar affordable or market rate apartment complexes. In many counties, the reduced assessment we are able to achieve will remain in place for many years, resulting in savings year after year.

We recommend consulting with a tax assessment attorney to discuss your property’s value and analyze the potential to realize significant tax savings by filing an assessment appeal. Call 610.275.0700 or email szaffuto@highswartz.com or wkerr@highswartz.com.

Don’t File for a Patent Application Before Reading This

Determining whether or not your idea (or portions of your idea) has already been made public by another inventor is a critical first step in the process of obtaining a patent.

What is a patent?

A patent is the legal right, provided by the United States government, to exclude others from making, using, selling, or offering to sell your invention for a limited amount of time.

How do you get a patent?

Patents in the United States are granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”). The first formal step in obtaining a patent is to file a patent application with the USPTO.

What can you apply for in a patent application?

Under the federal patent laws, the USPTO will only consider patent applications if the invention sought to be patented is a new and useful machine, manufacture, process, or composition of matter. Each of these categories is further defined in federal case law. Typically, most inventions conceived by individual inventors fit into one of those categories.

A Patent Examiner is a person at the USPTO who reviews filed patent applications. A Patent Examiner also inspects the application to ensure it meets dozens of other requirements mandated by federal law. For example, a Patent Examiner will check the invention disclosed in the application against existing granted patents, filed patent applications, or any other publicly known information in any form. If Patent Examiners find that the invention overlaps with any reference in this seemingly limitless base of information (known as prior art), they will reject the patent application.

How different does my patent application need to be to get around prior art?

Patent Examiners don’t even need to locate a single reference which matches your invention to issue a rejection. Rather, they can select certain components from multiple patents, patent applications, and other publicly known things, and combine them. If this combination resembles your invention, the Patent Examiner will deny part or all of the application.

Is it expensive to get a patent?

The preparation and filing a patent application can, at times, be prohibitively expensive. An ill-prepared applicant can spend hundreds of dollars in filing fees, only to file an application for an invention which partially, or even completely, overlaps with the prior art. Being unaware of your application’s vulnerabilities can cost the inventor time and money. Therefore, an inventor should have some idea of whether his invention is known in the prior art before contemplating the filing of a patent application.

How can I determine if my idea has already been patented?

The best means of determining where your invention stands in comparison to the prior art is to conduct a patent search prior to drafting a patent application. A thorough search of existing patents, patent applications, and other public information related to an invention will give the inventor a better idea whether his invention is susceptible to rejection.

Unlike other scavenger hunts, a patent search may be the one search in which you don’t want to find what you’re looking for. The more references identified in a patent search, the greater the chance that your invention is already known, and the greater the likelihood that a Patent Examiner will reject your patent application.

Patent searches will also help the inventor (and his patent attorney) to anticipate future pitfalls in the application process. Knowing what prior art exists provides the inventor with an idea of what rejections a Patent Examiner might assert after examining a patent application.

How will I know if my patent is worth pursuing?

After conducting a patent search, collect and review all the located references. If only a few patents, patent applications, and other publicly known references match the novel features of your invention, your invention may be suitable for a formal patent application. Be advised, though, that no patent search is completely exhaustive, and many applicable references will exist despite your best search efforts.

Again, Patent Examiners will conduct their own prior art searches and identify references you may not be aware of. Evaluating your options with a patent attorney and ascertaining the chances of a Patent Examiner successfully granting your application—called a patentability opinion—is the next logical step before filing with the USPTO. Though not required, obtaining a patentability opinion based on an extensive patent search can make the decision on whether to pursue an application substantially easier.

Do you have an idea for an invention? Do you believe your idea has a novel purpose or solves a unique problem? Do you want to ensure that no one can take credit for your idea, but you’re not quite sure where to start? Contact a patent attorney today to help you with your patent search and provide a patentability opinion. The Intellectual Property Attorneys at High Swartz are here to help at 610-275-0700 or fill out a contact form here.