Make it Yours

Workshop gives intellectual property rights insight.

By Brandon Roberts

The people of Molokai have a creative spirit and an eye for the entrepreneurial. In order to call the island home, people must harness this spirit to embrace success. An informal talk-story with Molokai’s inventors, artists, and business people shed some light on intellectual property rights.

John Wordin, Molokai resident and inventor, hosted a workshop last Tuesday at the Kuha`o Business Center to inform Molokai about the patent, copyright and trademark process.

“The American Dream is to create something out of nothing and make money,” Wordin said. “The vehicle you make money with is business.”

There are three ways to legally harness a business potential and intellectual property rights: to patent, to copyright, and to trademark. 

A patent is an agreement with the government that guarantees an inventor proprietary rights to their invention for 20 years. The first patent ever granted was in March 1794, to Eli Whitney and his cotton gin.

A copyright is the proof of ownership over a work of art, which could be a painting or a manuscript. The first copyright law was signed into effect in May 1790, by the first U.S. president, George Washington.

Trademarks are another type of agreement with the government on a specific word, phrase, or design used to identify a product or service. Bass & Co. Brewery used a red triangle design on its pale ale beer bottles, and in 1876 the logo became the world’s first trademark.

Wordin hosts these informative workshops because of his desire to promote the “creative avenue” within all. Wordin has experience with the process, as he has obtained eight patents, and has one pending. “I cannot do it for you, but I can show you where to go and how the procedure works.”

Wordin explained that within the patent office they “play the devil’s advocate,” and look at three main aspects to any new application: is it new, useful, and non-obvious.

The process is lengthy and costly: it requires filing several forms and paying a range of fees. Wordin recommends thoroughly researching ideas before any forms or fees are submitted. This is to make sure there are no similar patents. He said online is one of the best research tools available.

“There is no refund,” Wordin said. “The government has a voracious appetite for money.”

Wordin is also a volunteer member of the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).  There are about 40 SCORE volunteers in Hawaii, but Wordin is the only one on Molokai. SCORE volunteers work in conjunction with the Small Business Administration of the federal government and provide free business consultation.

For more information contact Wordin at (808) 567-6308 or by email at

Copyright forms and fee information are available online at For further inquiry into patents and trademarks, go to


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