Protecting Intellectual Property: An Entrepreneurs’ Guide to Trademarks, Copyrights, and Patents

Here’s what lawyers and law firms on JD Supra are writing to help business owners and entrepreneurs make sense of trademarks, copyrights, and patents. A legal reading list on protecting your company’s intellectual property:

Protect your Intellectual Property – People, Processes & Products (by Bambi Faivre Walters, PC):

A brief overview: “The term ‘intellectual property’ is composed of what my second grade son would call “robust words” – meaning that when he uses such words in a sentence, he gets extra credit. For the most part, intellectual property includes the people, processes and products that make your business successful over your competition. From a legal perspective, the term “intellectual property” includes patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret rights…” Read on»

Intellectual Property Basics – Overview of Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents (by Tyson Snow):

An excellent, 12-page introductory guide to copyrights, trademarks, and patents, including for example: “The date of first use of a trademark in commerce is important in establishing the priority of rights over the use of a conflicting mark. Typically, the company or person who first uses a protectable mark in commerce is deemed the owner of the mark, at least in the geographic area in which the mark is actually being used, unless someone else has already filed an application for a federal registration of the mark based upon their intent to use it.

Federal registration of a trademark gives the registrant a nationwide right of priority in its trademark. The registration of a trademark is deemed constructive use of the trademark in all areas of the country, thus giving the registrant priority from the filing date over all others who might use the mark, except those who used the mark prior to such filing and who have filed their application for registration of the mark…” Read on»

Client Booklet – Intellectual Property Basics (by Cory Furman):

A 60-page booklet “prepared for use by introductory intellectual property clients to understand the basics of different intellectual property concepts – patents, trademarks etc. Using this booklet clients can begin to understand some of the different types of protective measures which are available and have an introductory idea about different approaches before seeking counsel.” Includes sections on confidential information/trade secrets, enforcing your rights, marketing, and international protection issues… Read on»

Trademark Basics for Businesses (by Kelly Talcot):

A 6-page, comprehensive introduction: “That’s not to say that every mark has to be unique. Depending on the mark, it’s possible to have the same or very similar marks that can coexist because they cover different types of products or services. The mark “United,” for example, has been registered by different companies for shower enclosures, real estate franchise services, lighting ballasts, bicycle accessories, grocery stores, rolling mills, pool cue stick joints, fresh vegetables, transportation of goods by truck, transportation of persons, property, and mail by air, and dozens of other products and services. This is allowed because consumers are able to compartmentalize their perceptions about products and services…” Read on»

Trademark Basics (by Scott T Kannady):

“Common law trademark rights are rights you automatically acquire in a trademark simply by using it. They accrue as soon as a mark is used to identify goods or services in commerce. For example, if you are using the name/mark “Yellow Brick Road” in a city to operate a travel agency, your use of that mark for those services will generally be protected in the area of use and may (depending on the jurisdiction) extend to an area of “foreseeable expansion.” Note that in any dispute, you will need to show that you were using the trademark prior to the other party’s use in that area. You can enhance your common law rights by using the superscript TM symbol (for goods) or SM symbol (for services) to show you are claiming common law (unregistered) trademark rights in the name. This puts people on notice…” Read on»

[Also see by Scott T. Kannady: The Difference Between Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks]

In Pursuit of Competitive Advantage: Can Companies Use Tradmark Law to Stand Out in an Overcrowded Marketplace? (by Dinsmore & Shohl):

A 12-page slide presentation from a roundtable discussion on the subject: “In this environment, intellectual property portfolios are highly prized assets when it comes to differentiating companies and their products. While trade and service marks ensure consumers correctly identify the source of goods or services and prevent others from using the same or similar marks, can these same protections really help create a competitive advantage?

Recently, we held a roundtable discussion featuring three of our leading intellectual property attorneys who examined why a unique and identifiable name is an advantage for any business. The participants shared their insights on a number of issues, from differentiating products and experience to pursuing unauthorized use, and most important, the risks of not protecting intellectual property…” Read on»

Overview of Copyright Law: From Registration to Renewal to Termination (by Tamera Bennett):

Written to help “a practitioner gain a basic understanding of some very intricate procedures under the Copyright Act… this paper starts at Copyright Class 101 with the basics of the 1909 and 1976 Copyright Acts and progresses through Copyright Class 201: Renewals; Copyright Class 301: 56/75 Year Termination; and Copyright Class 401: 35 Year Termination…” Read on»

Copyright Basics (by W. Jeffrey Brown):

“Copyrights protect authors of creative works such as books, movies, artwork, and software source code, from any unauthorized copying, reproduction or distribution of their work. Only expressions that are affixed in a tangible format may be copyrightable. They protect only the expression and not the idea of the work. For example, if you have a copyright on a picture of the Grand Canyon, I can’t use that picture for my own commercial gain without your permission. However, nothing prevents me from taking my own picture of the Grand Canyon and using that in any way I choose…” Read on»

What is Protectable by Copyright? (by Dunner Law PLLC):

“Copyright law is a topic of confusion for many people, and this confusion leads to many misperceptions as to what is and what is not protected by copyright. In this issue of Dunner Law Dicta, we review the basics of copyright law and then apply those principles to tweets on Twitter…” Read on»

[Also see by Dunner Law: Civil Copyright Remedies]

The Importance of Copyright Registration (by Steven Ayr):

“…if your creation wasn’t registered at the time the other person used it, you’ll have to prove your damages when you go to court. In other words, you’ll have to prove to a judge or jury exactly how much money you lost or exactly how much money the other person gained by using your creation without your permission. That’s hard to do. What’s more, it can be expensive to do if you need to hire an expert to testify as to the nature of a particular market and your creation’s place in it. Even worse, once your prove your damages, that’s what you’re stuck with, you can’t get any more money than that. If there’s not a lot of money involved, you can be sure that your legal costs will far exceed anything you get back in court. For the individual artist then, the person most in need of protection, it makes it virtually impossible to actually protect your work…” Read on»

The “Dirty Little Secret of Patents” is that Most are Worthless to Their Owners. Here is Why. (by Jackie Hutter):

“Notwithstanding the vast corporate and entrepreneurial resources expended each year to file, prosecute, manage and maintain patents, a significant majority end up having little or no business value to their owners. Whether or not you agree with my opinion that a majority of patents are worthless, or whether you think that only “many” or even “some” patents are worthless, with the resources committed to obtaining patent rights and the expectations placed in them by their owners, the question must then become “why do any patents end up not having any value?”

Most patent owners, both corporations and entrepreneurs alike, place responsibility for obtaining and managing their patent rights in the hands of patent professionals. The path to value goes astray at this point. This article details why this is the case…” Read on»

[Also by Jackie Hutter: An Introduction to Patent Monetization Resources for Corporations and Entrepreneurs]

Also see:

Licensing Basics for Technology and Life Sciences Companies (by Fenwick & West)

Legal Nuances When a Patent-Holding Company Seeks to Enforce a U.S. Patent (by Robert Matthews, Jr.)

Some Artists Paint Buildings (by Sheppard Mullin)