November 29, 2021
Peter J. Van Bergen
Patent attorney, Williamsburg
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Bucknell University; law degree, William & Mary
Children: We raised our three grown children (Elizabeth, Luke and John) in Williamsburg.
Hobby: Swimming, cycling, running, kayaking, triathlon, reading
Career mentors: David Blumenthal
What is the biggest challenge facing intellectual property protection today? Trying to determine if and how you can get utility patent protection to “work” for software-based inventions, given the cumbersome “subject eligibility” criteria of the Patent Office. While you can always use other types of IP protections for software, there is often a lot of creativity in software that can and should be rewarded with utility patent protection. The trick is to write a patent application that captures the client’s creativity in a format that meets the eligibility criteria of the Patent Office.
What areas of technology are the most popular for patents these days? All technologies are now well represented in patents. I currently help clients protect inventions ranging from simple smart consumer goods to complex artificial intelligence systems. Creativity occurs at all levels of complexity.
You are also an inventor. What did you invent? In the early to mid-90s, I invented and patented a fingerless mitt (Patent No. 5,172,427) and marketed it under the “S’warms” brand. I got the idea during a cold morning run. It was a very simple product that used four types of intellectual property (patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret). I appeared on QVC for several seasons and licensed the patent / trademark to a manufacturer of golf products for the golf market. I always use this experience as a teaching tool for new clients.