Category: Intellectual property

Trademark v Service Mark: Do I Need Both?

Intellectual property can be so confusing that many of us struggle to understand the delineation between the trademark, copyright, or patent, and all the different applications, registrations, and approvals that must be met simply to protect our branding mechanisms, our work, and our ‘artistic expressions,’ often which may have great value. The choices—and the process for registering can be complicated, which is why you should consult with an experienced attorney from the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible.

The trademark is unusual as it also encompasses the service mark. For dynamic businesses of today participating in a world economy (and especially with the advent of the internet and online marketing and shopping), one or the other may be critical for marketing purposes. The trademark is one of the most common forms of intellectual property. Like all other types of intellectual property, it becomes yours as soon as the IP comes into existence; in other words, as soon as you create a mark designating the product that your company sells, you are in full ownership of it. Questions only arise should someone infringe on your creation, and then you are forced to ask them to cease and desist, or take further legal action.

More specifically, the service mark helps customers recognize the services that you offer—and because of the separation between the service mark and the trademark, familiarizing consumers with your products, it is completely possible that you could need both in terms of branding your company. Again, your intellectual property attorney can help you search whether or not there are other identical or extremely similar marks already out there that could cause your application to be rejected. If the mark is considered to be obscene or if it contains a symbol that could be the same or similar to that of a government seal of any sort, it may also be rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Filling out the proper applications and registration for any type of intellectual property can be arduous, sometimes expensive, and the approval process may take a long time. Because of this, you should have the help of your intellectual property attorney, who can educate you fully on the process as well as discussing your true needs in terms of IP protection.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!


Intellectual Property Topics: How is the Trademark Enforced?

Whether you are applying for a trademark, copyright, or patent, intellectual property can be one of the most important assets you or your business will ever own. And although technically you own intellectual property as soon as you create it, without solid protection from the United States Patent and Trademark Office or the U.S. Copyright Office, you may have no legal recourse later in the case of infringement

Intellectual property, although required for many businesses to get ahead and to make a name for themselves in their industry, is a complex area of law and is often intimidating to business owners and individuals who may be creating a brand, or innovating in a wide range of products or services.
The trademark is necessary if you need to offer distinction between your products and those of other companies, as well as the services your business offers. The trademark is often also referred to as the brand-name, which makes sense as symbols like the ‘whoosh’ sign for Nike offer familiarity for consumers.

With the help of a skilled intellectual property attorney, you can search other trademarks and service marks, ensuring there is not already conflicting material registered. These types of searches are important so that you do not run into a legal issue later, allowing you to apply for a trademark without worry on your end, registering with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and then enforcing legal action against anyone who may attempt to infringe.

Keep in mind also that the service mark is a subset of the trademark category, delineating not products, but rather announcing what you do. If either of these are infringed on, and you do have your trademark registered, you have numerous options—but this is not the time to go it alone! With the help a skilled intellectual property attorney from The Bolender Law Firm, you can request that the other party stop using your branding mechanisms, and a court order may be issued. You may also see an order issued for the other party to get rid of the infringing items, you may be owed damages, and infringer may even be forced to pay attorney’s fees.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!


After the Patent Expires—Understanding the Public Domain

Intellectual property law is complex, and many entrepreneurs may not only feel too busy to understand IP in terms of application and registration, ownership—and ultimately, protection of the future—but they may also be intimidated by the entire process, and especially when filing a patent. No matter what though, IP is important to your own personal creations and those of your business. Intellectual property allows the global economy to thrive as invention and innovation are encouraged around the world. With your intellectual property duly protected, you also then have the free time required to focus on your business and expand research and development activity.

Patents can be extremely important for inventors, and especially valuable to a business focused on creating products and processes, for example. Dealing with a patent, and applying for one is best achieved with the help of an experienced intellectual property attorney who can help you determine what type of protection you actually need as well as searching to ensure there is not already a patent for an identical or similar invention. A skilled attorney will help you through the overall process of applying for a patent, as well as dealing with issues that may arise before you gain final approval. Getting a patent usually takes around a year or more, and you may have to jump through some hoops before you attain your goal.

But what happens if you go to all that effort, not only to bring forth innovation but then also to apply and register it, only to have your patent expires after around 20 years? While this can be good for the public domain in terms of innovations and processes that are in demand, you may be worried about what will happen once details of your invention emerge. And while you may be able to hold onto some of your trade secrets, once a patent is in the public domain that means that others have access to your prized work whether you wanted that to be the case or not.

There is also the chance that you may release your work into the public domain deliberately, allowing anyone to use it without permission—or you may release it into the public domain with restrictions on it too. None of these actions are recommended without the help of an experienced intellectual property attorney, however. The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!


Why Intellectual Property is Important to the World Economy

Intellectual property can be extremely useful to your business, and while it may just seem like a task at first to set up trademarks and service marks or to go as far as creating copyrights or patents, in the future, such work could prove to be extremely valuable – and so much so that if anyone were to steal your branding or innovations, you would need to take legal action.

No matter how new or how established your business is, you may be engaged in creating logos, letterhead, slogans, and more, all to be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). That goes for both trademarks and service marks, delineated between registering the symbol that familiarizes the public with your product, and the services that you offer.

If you have been involved in creating copyrights (to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) or patents (to be registered with the USPTO), this could be an integral part of your business also as innovative new designs could be helping to further your own processes or manufacturing and what you have to offer your customer base—but could also soon be in demand by others—around the world even.

Intellectual property does in many ways drive a large portion of the economy, beginning at your local level and contributing throughout the country and in some cases internationally; in fact, businesses that own and produce intellectual property ‘intensively’ tend to employ more people, grow faster, earn more commercially, and pay more to their employees.

Today, the US intellectual property worth is close to $6 trillion, and that is higher than every other country. Intellectual property is also responsible for 74 percent of all US exports. Protection of any intellectual property that you own can be critical—including making sure that you have solid agreements with any independent contractors who may be working for your company and helping you to create new IP.

Although intellectual property is technically owned by you as soon as you create it, registering with the proper entities allows you greater legal protection should you need it. This is a legal area that can be complex, however, and whether you are dealing with IP issues or other complexities in your business, consult with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

commercial intellectual property

Is Someone Else Benefiting from Your Commercial Intellectual Property to Sell Merchandise?

Although you may not even realize it at the time, when you create a business, you also begin creating an ongoing reputation within your community and industry, which also leads to a brand and commercial intellectual property—no matter how formal or informal it may be–and you certainly do not want anyone else benefiting from the hard work you put in. Along with your brand usually comes slogans, logos, information about your services, and perhaps even innovative products that make you known worldwide and must be patented.

Protecting your intellectual property is about more than just attaining status through registration and having a piece of paper to go with your work. Going through the application process and receiving the proper registration and licensing (which can sometimes be complex) can be critical to your business, and in many ways protecting intellectual property is just like protecting the inventory at your company or warehouse.

Just as you lock the door on your property at night onsite or at your warehouse, intellectual property protection allows you to secure rights to avoid theft by others. You can then move on and give your attention to exploring new innovations and expanding research and development within your company. There may be no further complications unless someone tries to threaten your IP license.

If you do realize there may be a threat to your intellectual property—known as infringement in most cases—consult with the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible to protect your valuable work, which may currently be part of or eventually lead to substantial income for your company. Many intellectual property ‘thieves’ just assume no one will come after them for stealing a copyright, trademark, or even perhaps a complex patent to be reproduced and sold for a tidy profit. Others may simply not believe in or may not agree with the idea of intellectual property altogether, justifying theft in that manner. Be aware also, that many infringers are international.

Each type of intellectual property has its own protections, and if you are trying to deal with an infringement issue, this is certainly not an area of law to try and go it alone. The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!


When Another Party Blatantly Steals Your Copyright

A copyright can be extremely important to your business if you are producing valuable intellectual property—and while that may be a matter of perspective to some regarding ‘artistic works’ (the definition of what can be copyrighted), such ‘property’ often grows in value exponentially over time. In most cases, though regarding a business venture, artistic expressions that must be registered for serious legal protection may have been long-term projects resulting in intellectual property that your company values deeply, and could include work like software, architectural works, and more. These items can be thought of almost like business inventory and must be guarded just like everything else.

Are you trying to decide whether you want a copyright? If so, ask yourself how you would respond if you found out that someone else had taken your work or replicated it for their own gain. Having a formal copyright establishes with the rest of the world that you own a work; however, many copyright owners are not aware that as soon as they bring the work into existence, they do own it; the question is then how to keep it safe. Registration means taking your current level of ownership one step further by making it formal with the U.S. Copyright Office. If the copyright lapses or expires, it then enters the public domain. Most copyrights are good as outlined by the U.S. Copyright Office:

“As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors.”

But what about when another party just takes off with your work blatantly? That is theft, and it must be dealt with by a skilled legal professional. If you have worries regarding infringement, contact the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible. Infringement cases can be complex, as not only must you provide evidence of the intellectual property infringement but also defend your copyright against fair use issues and more. You may also want to consider whether the offending party has the resources to pay damages should you engage in a lawsuit over your copyright.

Do you need legal assistance with an intellectual property matter? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!


intellectual property

What Should I Do If My Intellectual Property Has Been Stolen?

Discovering that you have been stolen from is always a jarring experience, no matter the value of an item. And while there are steps you can take legally upon realizing you have been a victim of theft, the situation may become more complex when dealing with an intangible item or a mere concept—but a valuable one— related to intellectual property.

As a business owner, you may eventually find that intellectual property is one of your company’s greatest strengths; after all, what could be more important than your logo for branding? Or your slogan so that the public understands what you do? Copyrights and trademarks often cover the basics at the beginning of your business, but patents could represent the most substantial part of your intellectual property portfolio later.

While you may have a simple patent, it is also possible that you have one or more patents for inventions that are extremely complex and could have been the result of decades of work whether you were involved or your team handled the bulk of the design. You may also have had the assistance of independent contractors who have worked with you continuously throughout the years, are on an ‘as-needed’ basis.

If you fear that your intellectual property has been stolen, take action as quickly as possible with the help of a skilled attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm. While so many different types of theft, including identity theft and cyber theft are prevalent today, intellectual property theft can be extremely damaging as another party could begin to import, export, manufacture, and sell something you worked very hard to create.

If there has been infringement, your intellectual property attorney will begin by issuing a request for the infringement to cease, taking more aggressive action later if that does not prove effective. This also applies to copyrights, trademarks and service marks, as well as inventions you may have put many hours and expense into creating. While intellectual property technically is yours as soon as it comes into being (at your hands, or those of your employees), registering it gives you much more recourse later if there is a legal dispute.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!


Patents May Protect Improvements to An Existing Invention

Intellectual property can be one of your company’s greatest assets. This is often not a priority at first, and many business owners may not realize the importance of copyrights, trademarks, and patents until they are in the midst of creating something, or realize they are onto something big—and perhaps even internationally.

While much intellectual property is centered around branding mechanisms such as logos, slogans, and products delineating what you may provide for the public, patents are usually even more important as they represent inventions. And while copyrights are technically registered as artistic expressions, the patent often represents something along the same lines that may be exponentially more creative or innovative, and a product that endures through many decades to come. Because of that, it is critical to protect such works for the long term.

But what if you want to make an improvement on an existing patent, whether it is your own or someone else’s? Improvement patents are extremely common today and are often known as ‘addition patents’ or ‘substitution patents.’ These often include much smaller but vital inventions that could be a tipping point for the success of a product overall. Many improvements occur today as new technology is becoming so readily available and may offer significant benefits over conventional methods such as greater affordability, better performance, and less labor needed when operating a machine or a system.

If you are interested in registering to improve a patent, begin by searching for it through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. File your temporary patent while you complete the formal application process and expect to have to make revisions. It is highly recommended that you work with an intellectual property attorney as applying for a patent of any kind can be a lengthy, complex process; however, it is well worth it to make sure any type of invention is protected from infringement by others.

A patent gives you exclusive rights to an invention for up to 20 years, usually, meaning that no one else can make, sell, or use it. If the registration expires, it then becomes open to the public domain.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

Intellectual Property: Who Needs to Apply for Service Marks?

Intellectual property spans many different items you may create for your business to promote your brand, or products you may invent that could become extremely valuable in the future. While many consumers perceive intellectual property as being a complex matter, branding mechanisms are fairly simple to understand; however, when it comes to protecting your intellectual property you should consult with an experienced business attorney who has had experience with whatever type of intellectual property you want to register.

Copyrights are a very common type of intellectual property, and many people get them confused with trademarks, or service marks. Copyrights protect artistic expressions that are created such as music or literature, or in terms of technology or business—software or architecture. Trademarks are vital to branding, and along with that usually comes a symbol that designates your business, allowing for familiarity with the public that is or will be buying your products. The trademark is an identifier of the goods you offer.

Service marks are a subset of the copyright, but rather than designating products, they are a symbol of the services you offer. The TM is used after a trademark, while the SM is used after a service mark; for either, the ‘R’ encased by a circle is important as it designates formal registration. This is important not only so that customers understand what services are offered, but by which company, and that the mark is protected legally.

The interesting detail about intellectual property is that ownership is technically established as soon as you make your own logo or your own slogan—or after you write that cookbook, a score of music, create new software, or invent something new. The problem is protecting it fully. If someone decides to steal your work intentionally, or if they create something similar—so similar that it is going to affect sales and distribution of your own work, for instance—having registered your intellectual property could be well worth it in case you have to communicate with the other party about ceasing activities revolving around such work, or worse, if you must sue them for infringement with the help of your attorney and take them to court.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!


Understanding the Approval Process for Getting a Patent

Intellectual property is one of the more subtle assets you may own personally, or through your business, and especially with the patent. It can also be one of the more exciting ways to create branding mechanisms, whether you are creating stationary or letterhead for your company with your logo for trademarking, along with using a symbol denoting your goods in different types of logos or in a variety of different advertising forums. You may also be involved in creating artistic expressions that require copyrighting, whether you have made something personal like a work of literature or music, or a business item like software or architecture.

Patents can be more complex, more expensive, and take longer to attain (with the average time period being 21 months from the application date); however, chances are, the works you created took an extensive amount of time and are worth protecting from competitors. In applying for a patent, first you must understand the differences between the three types: design, utility, and plant.

A design patent is considered purely to be made for aesthetics:

“Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture,” states the USPTO.

The utility patent offers a use, and is categorized as functional:

“Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof. By far, most patent applications filed at the USPTO are utility applications,” states the USPTO.

The plant patent:

“Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.”

Some inventions may be both aesthetically pleasing and functional, and you may want or need two different patents if the process is not too cost prohibitive. It is vital, however, to also make sure this invention is not one that has already been disclosed to the public, so you much do a search first—and the USPTO also recommends searching internationally. You can also find out more about costs here.

Dealing with and applying for patents if you do not have prior knowledge or intellectual property law knowledge can be difficult and it is in your best interest to hire a skilled attorney for help.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!