Trademark and Intellectual Property
Intellectual property protects intangible assets such as inventions, designs and artistic works by granting inventors and creators exclusive rights over their creations. In the United States, there are three types of intellectual property protections afforded by federal for trademarks, patents and copyright. In addition, there is a fourth type of intellectual property protected in the United States and that is trade secrets.
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A trademark protects a word, name, symbol, brand name or logo that is used in commerce on goods and services and identifies the source of the goods or services. A trademark owner has an property right in the trademark and can prevent others from using a similar mark in commerce to confuse consumers. In order to register a trademark in the Unites States, a business or individual must file for protection with the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and follow all the steps for registration. A trademark generally lasts as long as the trademark continues to be used and is defended against infringement. Starting August 3, 2019, all foreign-domiciled trademark applicants, registrants, and parties to Trademark Trial and Appeal Board proceedings to be represented by an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the United States. This requirement applies to all trademark applicants, registrants, and parties whose permanent legal residence or principal place of business is outside the United States.
A patent protects an invention and grants a property right to the inventor. In the United States, a business or individual (patent owner) can file for patent protection with USPTO. Patents allow their owner to determine who can make, use, or sell an invention. The USPTO issues a new patent for a 20-year term from the date on which the application for the patent was filed with USPTO, or in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed. The patent protection extends only within the United States and its territories.
A copyright protects “original works of authorship” including literary, artistic, musical dramatic, and other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The protection runs from the time the works are created in a fixed form. Copyrights provide their owner with the ability to determine who can reproduce or distribute a work, publicly perform and display a work, or prepare derivative works. It is not required to register a copyright in order for the work to be protected. However, registering the copyright provides benefits, including a public record of the copyright claim, evidence of the validity of the copyright, and the possible recovery of damages and costs in successful copyright infringement litigation. Generally, the term of a copyright is the life of the author plus 70 years after the author’s death. An application to register a copyright in the United States can be submitted online to the U.S. Copyright Office.
Trade secret protection is a complement to patent protection. Trade secrets refer business ownership of information that gives the business a competitive edge over its competitors and can include a formula, method, devise, program, technique, process, compilation or others. Trade secrets are not as popular as trademarks, patents, and copyrights, but the United States provides trade secret protection as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a signatory party to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual-Property Rights (TRIPS). In addition, the United States provides a federal civil cause of action for disputes involving trade secrets under the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016. Trade secrets are further protected at state level and while state laws differ, there is a similarity because all U.S. states have adopted a form of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. In order to protect trade secrets, courts can enjoin misappropriation of trade secrets, order parties to maintain secrecy of trade secrets, order payment of royalties to the owner, and award damages, court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
We assist with preparing, filing and registering trademarks and copyrights before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and U.S. Copyright Office. In addition, we prepare and conduct preliminary trademark searches, risk assessment and trademark registration opinions. We protect the brand globally through applications based under the Madrid Protocol. Contact us today!