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From The Editor’s Desk: What A Biden Presidency Means For The Startup World




Democrat Joe Biden’s election as the United States’ 46th president bodes well for a tech industry that has faced onslaughts on all sides by the Trump administration for the past four years.

The strong favorite of Silicon Valley, Biden is likely to reverse many of President Trump’s key policies affecting the innovation economy. He’s also likely to bring a measure of much-welcomed stability to the country’s leadership.

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The startup community was likely relieved, too, to see that one of their own will be in the White House come 2021: Ron Klain, an attorney and longtime Democratic operative who now serves as EVP at venture investment firm Revolution, will serve as Biden’s chief of staff.

Here are six key issues where the startup community is most likely to see Biden’s impact:

• COVID-19: As of this writing, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 242,000 American lives, the U.S. has broken a new daily record of 160,000 new cases, and infection rates are surging alarmingly in 46 states, making new economic lockdowns all but inevitable. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have made getting a handle on the virus their No. 1 priority because, as the president-elect has said repeatedly, we cannot truly begin to rebuild our battered economy until we’ve brought the pandemic to heal. Positive news about the chances of getting an effective COVID-19 vaccine to market in 2021 also means the Biden administration will be tasked with distribution of that vaccine next year.

• Immigration: Perhaps no Trump administration policy has more aggravated Silicon Valley than its hard-line approach to immigration. President Trump has moved to curb immigration of all sorts, including the influx of highly skilled workers who come to the U.S. on H-1B visas every year. Under Biden, expect to see a long list of policy changes and reversals, including removing country-based caps for employment-based visas and supporting the Stopping Trained in America Ph.D.s From Leaving the Economy (STAPLE) Act, which would provide fast-tracked green cards for foreign students who receive a doctorate-level degree in a STEM field and a job offer in the U.S. upon graduation.

Immigration matters not only for companies hiring skilled foreign employees. Immigrants also account for an outsized portion of the startup founders in this country. A 2013 study by the National Venture Capital Association found that one-third of U.S. venture-backed companies that went public between 2006 and 2012 had at least one immigrant founder. Another more recent study by the group found that immigrants helped found more than half of U.S. unicorn startups.

• Clean tech and transportation: We don’t yet have a clear view of what, exactly, Biden’s approach to energy and transportation policy will be, but the former vice president has said that under his watch the U.S. will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and work to drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. He spoke in the second presidential debate specifically about beginning to phase out carbon-producing industries like coal while putting significant federal resources into developing renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

As Crunchbase News columnist Joanna Glasner also noted in her most recent article, many of the cleantech areas that Biden talked about early on in his campaign, including more pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and electric cars, are sectors that the startup world is heavily invested in.

• China trade and foreign policy: The Biden administration will have a fine line to walk when it comes to dealing with China. While Trump relied on ineffective and disruptive blunt-force methods like tariffs, the new White House team will have to confront China’s trade antagonism while ensuring that American industries and companies don’t become collateral damage in the standoff. That likely will mean a departure from both Trump’s heavy-handed tactics and the Obama-era approach, which was criticized for being too soft on the Chinese government. 

“President-elect Biden and his advisors have largely recognized that the Obama-era China strategy relied too heavily on the notion that cooperation and integration would yield positive changes in Chinese behavior,” the Information Technology Industry Council, an industry advocacy group for the tech sector, noted in a recent white paper on the Biden-Harris administration. “Coupled with congressional and China hawks’ rejection of this thesis, the Biden-Harris Administration will need to show that they can confront China where necessary and cooperate when possible.”

• Antitrust and regulation: Few tech-related issues have received bipartisan support, but antitrust regulation is one of them. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have indicated they’re interested in reining in the technology giants. Ironically, as I’ve noted before, some of the moves aimed at curtailing Big Tech—such as discouraging companies like Google and Facebook from buying smaller companies—may actually cause more harm than good for the startup industry.

Biden has already tapped former administration officials with experience in antitrust enforcement as he assembles his transition team. They include Gene Kimmelman, who served in the Department of Justice’s antitrust division under President Obama and is now an adviser at Public Knowledge, a tech policy group that advocated for the DOJ to bring its antitrust case against search giant Google. 

“The question isn’t whether a Biden administration will be more aggressive, but how much more aggressive” on antitrust enforcement against the tech giants, Michael Kades, a former Federal Trade Commission lawyer who now serves as director of markets and competition policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth think tank, recently told Bloomberg Law

• Taxes: Democrats are likely to push for higher taxes on high earners and businesses, including via increased capital gains taxes, but they’ll only succeed if they can wrest control of the Senate from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And that remains a big “if” that hinges on the outcome of swing-state Georgia’s January runoff election for the Senate.

Above all else, stability

On almost every policy stance, a Biden-Harris White House is likely to look starkly different from the Trump administration. But more than any single issue, Joe Biden offers the promise of stability and predictability.

As venture investor Bradley Tusk said in a recent interview with Protocol: “I think the thing that everyone would love—by the way, I think this is even true on the Republican side to some extent—is a boring presidency that’s relatively calm. Not the anxiety and chaos that we have with Trump every single day. I think people really want that. Look: Companies, investors, markets, they like predictability. Volatility is a problem.”

Yes, Joe Biden is kind of a boring guy. But after four years of disorder and confusion, that’s OK.

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Illustration: Dom Guzman

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Start Ups

Software Patent Search: The Key To A Strong Patent




Obtaining patents for your company is a smart decision, but what’s even smarter is conducting a thorough software patent search (prior art search) before filing your patent application.

There are many ways you can use a software patent prior art search to your advantage. The first and most obvious way is to determine if there are existing software patents (prior art) that could prevent you from patenting key features or processes in your software, but there are many other important benefits of conducting a thorough prior art search like:

  • Building a strong patent claim strategy prior to filing your patent application.
  • Getting a better understanding of similar patented technologies and how your software could fit into the technological field.
  • Identifying existing prior art that your technology could be infringing upon.
  • Determining if components of your software invention could be considered improvements to existing prior-art and therefore non-obvious.
  • Conducting R&D project due diligence prior to committing to new R&D projects, which can accelerate and enhance your innovation cycle by identifying both problems and potential workarounds as well as other opportunities.
  • Assessing the strength of your software invention.
  • Find out how strong your idea is if your software is still in development.
  • Gather patent analytics data on other innovative companies in your technological field.

This guide will explain the process of software patent searches and why they’re vital to having a strong patent application. 

Search Software or Professional Search Service? 

Performing an effective patent search is more of an art or skill than a perfunctory task. Beware of services that don’t provide a comprehensive search. Some search software or services do not access both US and international databases. We use these professional-grade research engines to examine over 100 of the world’s patenting authorities, important as only 19% of patent applications are filed in the U.S.

Google offers a patent search function. This is helpful for inventors looking to perform their own preliminary search. However, it lacks search filters and customizations, making it hard to drill down and find the exact patents that will relate to your software. 

Beware of questionable search services offering bargain-basement pricing. They typically return search results that are inaccurate and lacking. They may not search the full USPTO database or only search synonyms of your software invention name. 

For the best and most comprehensive search, you need to work with a licensed patent attorney who’s experienced with software patents. They will know the terminology commonly used by patent attorneys preparing software patents. 

Their experience with software patents and the USPTO database allows them to do a complete and comprehensive database search of the millions of patents already issued and many more applications published.

Prior Art Search

Any reputable attorney will advise that you should have a prior art search performed. This refers to the requirement that your software invention must be new and non-obvious. Anything can be prior art. 

While many people focus on patents and patent applications, a prior art search goes beyond this. It can include books, existing products, and periodicals. If your invention is previously described in a recorded location, then this is prior art, and your software isn’t’ patentable. 

This applies even if application or production of the invention wasn’t possible at the time of description due to lack of technology. There are four types of prior art searches, novelty, validity, clearance, and landscape. 

Using Patent Search Results To Strengthen Your Patent Application

Many inventors make the mistake of thinking that their independent search is enough of a patent search. However, this is similar to someone not trained in the medical field researching on WebMD for their symptom diagonsis. 

You need an experienced patent attorney to do a thorough search of the USPTO database. It’s even more helpful to hire an attorney who has experience in the type of invention you’re looking to patent. 

A misconception we commonly run is founders assuming that they are the first to invent because a particular software or product isn’t on the market. This isn’t always the case. 

Many inventors or small companies will obtain a patent for a particular idea but lack the funding to produce it. This results in patent ownership of ideas and inventions that never make it to market. 

Once you have the results of your patent search, you can work with your attorney to use them to your advantage and determine if it is worth filing a patent application. The first filing of your patent application is critical. All crucial information about your software patent must be disclosed at this time. Adding new information later can put your patent filing date at risk and jeopardizing your priority date. 

A software patent attorney can work with you to craft an initial disclosure that carefully defines your invention as different from similar patents found during your search. This highlights the unique patentable qualities of your invention and reduces the chances of your application getting denied. 

Can You File A Software Patent Application Without A Patent Search?

Yes, no regulation or rule requires you to do a patent search before filing. However, it’s in your best interest to do a search before you go through the expense and effort to file a patent application. 

While the cost of a search is an investment, it’s significantly less than preparing a non-provisional or provisional patent application. This is especially true for software patents that are technical in nature and tend to be on the higher end of the cost scale for preparation. 

Trusted Patent Search Attorneys

Knowledge, experience, and skill are required for a thorough and exhaustive patent search. Working with the right attorney can mean the difference between approval and denial of your patent application. 

Experienced attorneys know how to do proper research to find all possible conflicting patents. There are specific search parameters and terminology that experienced attorneys know to use for a successful search. Should you decide to move forward with a patent application, they will assist you in crafting the correct wording for your application to meet the uniqueness threshold. 

Start Your Patent Process With a Search 

If you’re interested in obtaining a patent for your invention, the best place to start is with a software patent search. For some, it can provide insight into the current patent landscape and whether or not the invention is worth pursuing in its current form. For others, the search will identify areas that are open and ripe for development. 

With the right patent attorney on your side, you can confidently move forward with your pursuit of patents. 

Contact our office today for a free consultation on your software invention. 


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Golf Patents: Everything You Need to Know




A ton of innovation goes into golf equipment and accessories that help players achieve the perfect swing. So, it is no wonder that golf is the leading sport in the United States in terms of patents filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Over 500 golf patents were issued by the USPTO in 2020! Tees, club design, practice putting greens and mats, and golf swing assistance devices are just a few of the many contraptions invented to improve one’s form and technique.  

Types of Patents

A golf-related innovation is usually either some sort of device, like a new golf club handle or high-tech gadget that lets a player know how accurate their swing is, or the innovation can lie in the specific design of golf equipment, such as how the specific dimpling on a golf ball can generate lift or the patterning on a driver’s head can enhance performance of the club. There are two types of patents that are particularly relevant to golf-related inventions – utility patents and design patents

  • Golf Utility Patents – A utility patent, when issued, offers 20 years of protection against others making, selling or using the invention, starting from the date the patent application was filed. Utility patents in the golf world are for inventions related to swing assistance devices, training aids for improving your swing, golf gloves and cleats, golf club heads and handles, golf course scheduling management software and mobile apps, and the like. 
  • Golf Design Patents – Design patents offer protection on specific ornamental features or designs (e.g., how the device looks, is shaped, its surface configuration, etc.), and protection lasts for fifteen years from issuance. Design patents are useful for protecting the surface patterning of a golf ball or the head configuration of a driver, putter or other golf club head. 

Golf Club Patents

Any avid golfer is familiar with the brands Callaway, Ping and TaylorMade as these are some of the main manufacturers of golf clubs. And these companies hold a great many number of patents on their specific golf club lines of products. For instance, the Callaway GBB Epic Driver has several patents protecting its design and functionality, including U.S. Patent No. 9,174,097 (a utility patent on the adjustable shaft and hosel assembly) and U.S. Design Patent Nos. D813,331, D813,332, and D813,333, are each directed to ornamental design features on the Epic club head. Similarly, Ping’s incredibly popular G® Driver is protected by over twenty patents. TaylorMade’s patent portfolio for the SIM driver 2020 contains upwards of 100 patents. When it comes to protecting novel features and designs of golf clubs against infringement by competitors and knockoff suppliers, these companies take patenting seriously. 

Golf Club Patent Example: Callaway Big Bertha Driver – Patent D786,993

Golf Ball Patents

It isn’t just protecting golf clubs with patents that is a big deal in the golf industry. Golf balls are the subject of many patents as well. Companies like Acushnet and Callaway have extensive patent portfolios directed to various features of golf balls – from surface dimpling patterns (U.S. Patent No. 6,945,880), to golf ball construction (U.S. Patent Nos. 7,744,491 and 10,058,741), to golf balls that contain electrical components (U.S. Patent No. 10,688,366). There are literally thousands of patents directed specifically to golf balls. 

Golf Software Patents

Software has also been integrated into a number of golf-related innovations. For instance, there are a number of golf training devices and tools that use software to analyze a player’s swing, trajectory, and form (such as U.S. Patent Nos. 8,202,248 and 10,201,739). Players who want to improve their skills can get virtual lessons online using patented web based interactive lessons (U.S. Patent No. 8,613,620). Patent applications have been filed on portable score keeping devices (U.S. Publication No. 2005/0096761), devices that track pace of play using software (U.S. Publication No. 2018/0204227), computerized systems for managing traffic on busy golf courses (U.S. Publication No. 2017/0164152), and scheduling software for tee time (U.S. Patent No. 8,457,883). 

Want to Protect Your Golf Related Invention? Here’s Where to Start. 

Golfers are passionate individuals who often have great ideas on how to improve their game. These ideas could be patent worthy, and a good place to start when you think you have a great new golf idea is to conduct a prior art search – and more specifically, to hire a trained professional to conduct a prior art search for you. A prior art search involves researching relevant patents and published applications, as well as digging into literature and looking for products that are already available on the market. By seeing what is already out there, a trained professional can better evaluate whether your golf idea is a good candidate for patent protection.    

The professionals at the Rapacke Law Group have extensive experience performing prior art searches, and have worked with a number of avid golfers to protect their novel golf inventions.  Feel free to contact us today for a free initial consultation


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Start Ups

International footballer Chris Smalling invests ‘six figure sum’ in Virtue Drinks, a global clean energy drink startup




Rahi Daneshmand , founder of Virtue Drinks

ROMA AS and England National football star, Chris Smalling, has injected a six-figure sum into Virtue Drinks, a London-based brand that’s on a mission to clean up the energy drinks market. It’s the sixth ethical investment Smalling has made in the last year, demonstrating his determination to publicly support sustainable products.

Established in 2016, the multi-award winning brand, Virtue Drinks, creates clean energy drinks which are all natural, with zero sugar or calories. They have two ranges available globally, Virtue Clean Energy and Virtue Yerba Mate, exporting to leading retailers in 30 countries.

Smalling says: “Virtue has shaken up the industry and made a brilliant product that changes the game. I’m excited to be part of the journey. Why would you drink unhealthy energy drinks when Virtue exists?”.

COVID-19 has accelerated a global trend toward healthy living, with consumers rethinking their eating and drinking habits. More people are scrutinising product ingredients, shifting from sugary or artificial energy drinks, with high amounts of synthetic caffeine, to clean alternatives.

London born entrepreneur, Rahi Daneshmand, launched Virtue Drinks in 2016, after looking for a clean energy drink himself. Having avoided energy drinks post-university, whilst constantly trying to find ways to improve his energy levels, he felt there’d be a lot of people also looking for a natural pick-me-up, with zero sugar or calories.

Daneshmand says: “We have very high aspirations, with plans to bring Virtue to every store where you might find traditional energy drink brands. Each can of Virtue gives customers the same amount of natural caffeine as the leading energy drink or coffee, without any sacrifice on taste and none of the artificial chemicals.”


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Start Ups

British low-alcohol spirits startup CleanCo lands €7.8 million to promote ‘hangover-free drinking’ internationally




British premium low-alcohol spirits startup, CleanCo, has secured around €7.8 million in funding as investors and consumers reveal an insatiable thirst for hangover-free drinking. The latest investment takes the total now raised by the business to around €10.2 million.

The company within the “nolo” (no- or low- alcohol) category received the cash injection from existing and new gold-stamped investors including: Ursula Burns, board member of Uber and former board member of Diageo, and Stonebridge PLC, a digital-first consumer brand investment firm set up by DTC entrepreneur James Cox, who shall also advise the company on its future growth plans.

Providing people with a healthier alternative to traditional tipples, CleanCo has cultivated a loyal ‘sober-curious’ following of over 50,000 customers in just 15 months with its authentic taste and ‘cheeky-luxe’ positioning.

Recording +580% uplift in sales since the start of ‘Dry January 2021’ and +1419% YoY, the low-abv spirits business founded by TV personality and entrepreneur, Spencer Matthews  with the support of ex-director of the Gin Guild, Justin Hicklin, who acts as Chairmain. CleanCo uses traditional distilling methods to create low-alcohol spirits, and entered the market in November 2019 with CleanGin, followed by CleanRum in May 2020, both at 1.2% ABV. 

The fresh funds raised in its latest financing push will support the brand’s international expansion, including plans to launch a number of significant new markets in H1 2021. The new funds will also allow for ‘significant’ marketing investment in the UK to increase brand awareness. 

“Nobody wakes up saying “I wish I drank more last night,” explained co-founder Matthews, who has been sober since 2018. “Anyone can have a good reason to avoid or reduce their intake of alcohol. After a sub-par 2020, many of us will start 2021 with a sore head, coupled with fresh resolve and ambition to change destructive habits. We want more drinkers to be aware that there are choices when it comes to drinking high- or low-strength alcohol. At CleanCo, we’re offering an easy transition with quality and credible replacements – without compromising on taste or social experience.”

The UK producer of spirits has also just released its first ready-to-drink, canned cocktail range, featuring 0.5% ABV twists on classic serves. CleanRum & Cola is made using traditional Jamaican rum techniques and is said to deliver undertones of caramel and cayenne pepper, paired with ‘premium cola’. Meanwhile, CleanGin & Tonic offers a ‘crisp botanical blend’ of juniper, grapefruit, cardamom, mint, ginger and cinnamon. The London-headquartered company also plans to release a vodka later this year.

“Our concept is absolutely in line with market trends, as people look to change their drinking habits and as health conscious consumers consider their options,” said Justin Hicklin, Chairman of CleanCo.

To create low or no alcohol beverages, manufacturers often replace the alcohol with sugar, but to reduce the sugar and retain full flavour is challenging, and unique to CleanCo, in a closely guarded and developing process, which Hicklin reveals only as a “multiplicity of distillations.”


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