Intellectual Property Representation for your Business
The longer you are in business the more intellectual property your business produces and the greater the value of that property. Things like your business name, logo, slogan and product names are how people recognize your business in the marketplace. The reputation you have established and that is associated with these different brand elements are why people buy from you. It’s important to take steps to protect these identifiers of your brand because they are company assets.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, sign or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of a person or business entity from those of others. A service mark is the same as a trademark, but is used to identify and distinguish the source of services instead of goods. A trade name is a name under which a person or entity conducts business. The trade name is usually different from the person or entity’s legal name and may or may not be trademarked.
Common-law trademark rights accrue upon first use of a mark. These rights, however, are limited to the geographic area in which the mark is used and are often difficult to enforce. The registration of a trademark at the state or federal level can provide greater protection, such as a presumptive right to use the mark nationwide and access to the federal courts for enforcement. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registers trademarks and service marks at the federal level.
Trademarks are generally enforced under theories of infringement (using someone else’s mark or a similar mark to market goods and services of the same general description) or dilution (using a well-known mark to market dissimilar goods or services). Remedies for infringement of a federally registered mark may include injunction, damages and attorneys’ fees. For dilution, injunction is the only available remedy.
What is a Copyright?
Copyrights protect expression that is in a fixed medium, such as a book, a film or electronically stored information made available on the Internet. Copyrights do not protect ideas, but the expression of ideas in a fixed medium. For instance, a story by itself would not be copyrightable, but once the story is published in a book or turned into a movie, the book or movie would be entitled to copyright protection.
A copyright exists automatically for any expression once it is fixed in a tangible form. However, federal registration of copyrighted material provides enhanced protections, such as access to federal courts and statutory remedies. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office, which is a part of the Library of Congress.
Specific issues that have arisen with respect to copyrights on the Internet are primarily governed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Among other things, the DMCA provides for a process by which copyright owners can complain to website hosts about infringing material. By complying with the DMCA process, the website hosts can limit their liability for copyright infringement.
What is a Trade Secret?
A trade secret is economically valuable, proprietary information that has not been disclosed to the public by the person or entity possessing such information. Examples of trade secrets include manufacturing processes, sales and distribution methods, customer lists – basically, any information that confers a competitive advantage and is kept secret by its owner. Unlike patents, trademarks and copyrights, no government registry exists for trade secrets. The recovery for theft of a trade secret is in tort. Most, but not all, states have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
Owners of trade secrets must protect the secrecy of the information if they wish to assert trade secret status against third parties. In this regard, owners must implement safeguards over the information, such as limited access to the information to certain persons on a need-to-know basis; confidentiality agreements entered into with those who will have access to the information; and labeling of printed material reflecting the trade secrets with “confidential” or other appropriate designation.
Copyrights and Trademarks
Reed Law will provide you with all of the following to get your trademark registered.
- Basic trademark research to determine if the mark you want to register is available and registrable,
- Preparing the trademark application for you but giving you two opportunities to review the draft of your application before its filed so you remain in complete control,
- A consultation to review the draft of your trademark application and address any issues or concerns,
- Provide expert legal advice and answer any legal questions you have in relation to your trademark applications,
- File the trademark application,
- Monitor your application as it progresses through the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) so you don’t have to worry about keeping track or meeting deadlines,
- Correspond with the USPTO when necessary and keep you in the loop so you can be as involved as you want to be,
- Respond to any Office Actions (these are preliminary denials which occur in 80% of trademark applications) including drafting a substantive legal brief where necessary,
- Manage the process until you have your trademark certificate in hand, and
- Advise you on how to utilize your trademark including which symbols to use and when (™, ℠, ®).