Category: Intellectual property

trade secrets

Trade Secrets & When Protection Becomes Void

The realm of intellectual property may seem vast, but the bottom line is that it only applies to the branding of your business and what you need in terms of logos, slogans, service information that you want the public to be aware of, and then protection of artistic works and inventions. Most businesses do begin building a brand right away, along with creating information that may need to be copyrighted. Technically, the definition of what is protected by copyright is an artistic expression of work. This can be relevant to a business in many cases though, from certain marketing materials to legal documents to computer programs, spreadsheets, works of architecture, and so much more. This type of intellectual property protection is crucial when you are expending large amounts of money and time on important projects, and when you must worry about infringement by competitors.

Protecting trademarks and service marks is just as vital, to avoid theft of branding mechanisms that play a vital role in helping customers (sometimes around the world) remain familiar with what you offer, whether goods or services. Patents protect what you may be creating within your business, giving you exclusive rights to manufacture and sell your invention for up to 20 years.

All intellectual property is related to trade secrets, which the United States Trademark and Patent Office considers to be the ‘fourth form of intellectual property,” as follows:

“Trade secrets consist of information and can include a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process. To meet the most common definition of a trade secret, it must be used in business, and give an opportunity to obtain an economic advantage over competitors who do not know or use it.”

And although it may be assumed that your employees realize they should not be giving out any information about the trade secrets of your business, think again! People talk, competition is fierce, and without proper legal protection, your trade secrets could walk right out the door. Protection of your trade secrets can be diminished if you do not take care of them properly though. This means securing and identifying them properly, using caution in terms of any accessibility, and making sure that everyone who works with you knows that such information must stay within the business. Without such measures, you may lose all protection of trade secrets, in line with guidelines from the USPTO.

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!

domain names

Intellectual Property: The Differences Between Domain Names and URLS

While intellectual property may seem intimidating to some, the basics are simple when it comes to understanding the separation between items like trademarks and service marks, copyrights, and patents. But as you work to build your brand, other elements that cannot be ignored come into play also—and are just as important (if not more so) to protect.

These days nearly every business requires a website, including domain name and URL. The domain name is often the name of a company, but they may have many different URLs within that for different divisions and pages, and more. The URL (which stands for uniform resource locator) is the actual address (like and there are probably many that you are familiar with and use routinely. In establishing intellectual property, you will need to choose a domain—along with hundreds of thousands of other businesses. Like your business name, this should be catchy. In many ways it will become your identity, and is part of adding to your professional look, as well as your brand.

Protecting your domain name once you have it may become a bigger priority for some than others, but in most cases, it is something you would be deeply concerned about losing; in terms of copyright protection, however, that is only available to intellectual property such as written works like poetry or screenplays, architectural works, software, and more.

Domain names are not protected or approved or licensed by the U.S. Copyright Office but they do recommend working with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an organization that performs domain system management. In some cases, however, they can be protected by trademark, and while this is good for you once you have a name, as you are choosing one, be careful that it is not protected by a trademark—and this goes for businesses or websites operating in other countries too.

Intellectual property can become one of your biggest assets over the years, and it must be held in value on the same level as other tangible. If you are a new business, seek legal help in applying for copyrights to protect a variety of different works, trademarks and service marks to protect your brand, and patents to protect inventions—whether they were created by you, a full-time employee, or an independent contractor you may have hired on a project-to-project basis.

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!


trade secret policy

Understanding Trade Secret Policy

Intellectual property is key for many businesses in the US today, and there are numerous different kinds. Your business may have been founded on different types of intellectual property; for instance, you may have created a logo (to designate what types of products you sell and create familiarity with the public) from the beginning, meaning it could be printed on signs, marketing products for your company, and items like business cards and letterhead.

Logos, symbols, and branding marks are typically protected by trademark, although items like slogans may be designated with a service mark (denoting what services you provide). Copyrights are approved for individuals and businesses who have registered artistic works—and this can span many things, from a screenplay to a cookbook to a work of architecture or software. Patents are granted (usually for a period of only about 20 years) for inventions, meaning that the inventor then has exclusivity regarding manufacturing and sales. A patent owner can also decide who has rights for activities such as distribution, importing, and exporting. All these items are intellectual property, and as a business owner, any of these IP types could be invaluable to your business.

Trade secrets encompass a whole other level of intellectual property, and generally means that employees and contractors should be well-apprised of confidentiality issues as well as who has ownership of such intellectual property if they leave their jobs. You should have a trade secret protection policy for staff to follow, meaning that you have legal recourse later should there be any misappropriation, or improper usage. An employee manual is recommended for a company of any size, although its size may vary depending on the scope of your business and how many people work there.

The United States Trademark and Patent Office (USTPO) defines a trade secret as the following:

  • Formula
  • Pattern
  • Compilation
  • Program
  • Device
  • Method
  • Technique
  • Process

Any of these items can become trade secrets in business when used to obtain an economic advantage over competitors who do not know or use it. Certain policies apply to trade secrets too internationally. The US is part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is also part of the party to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual-Property Rights (TRIPS). This means they must provide trade secret protection:

“Article 39 paragraph 2 requires member nations to provide a means for protecting information that is secret, commercially valuable because it is secret, and subject to reasonable steps to keep it secret. The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 created federal civil cause of action, strengthening U.S. trade secret protection, with a choice for the parties between localized disputes under state laws or disputes under federal law, heard in federal courts,” states the USPTO. “While state laws differ, there is similarity among the laws because almost all states have adopted some form of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.”


As a business owner, you must maintain secrecy over trade secrets in order to have to leverage later to sue someone regarding misappropriating. If secrecy was disclosed due to your actions, there can no longer be any protection over it in terms of being awarded damaged in court.

“Trade secrets do not expire so protection continues until discovery or loss,” states the USPTO.

Intellectual property topics and issues can be complex and often require the assistance of a skilled attorney.

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!


What Does it Mean to Have a Patent?

Intellectual property can be extremely valuable to your business, especially if your specialty is innovation. Because understanding what type of intellectual property protection may be best for you, it is important to get educated on the range of applications and licenses available. But first, be aware that as soon as you create intellectual property it is yours. The significance of applying for a patent or trademark or service mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office is that you have confirmation of the product, therefore leading to stronger legal rights should you have to sue over infringement.

While copyrights refer to artistic expressions of work (such as literature, music, architecture, software, and more), and trademarks and service marks refer to branding, logos, and slogans, patents are relevant to inventions, and give you usually around 20 years of exclusivity to make and sell whatever it is you have created.

The application process for a patent can be complicated and it is recommended that you speak with an intellectual property attorney from a firm like the Bolender Law Firm first. With expert legal help, you will be able to start by searching the USPTO Full-Text and Image Database for similar patents that may already be registered—and although this doesn’t count you out in terms of being approved, you may need to consider what is already out there and what the ramifications are. Upon applying, there may be a waiting period of around two years—but it could last beyond that. What this means is that you should be very serious about what you are registering, have foresight about beginning the process, and then be ready to wait.

Once granted, having a patent means the following, according to the USPTO:

“The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO.”

Patents are divided into several categories—utility, design, and plants. Patents must be considered useful and are not viable in the form of just an idea or concept. 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 infringement

The Legal Implications of Intellectual Property Infringement

Protecting your business is one of the most important things you can do throughout life. This is a multi-faceted endeavor too, as there are so many areas that can become vulnerable, leading to insurance liabilities, security breaches, and more—to include loss or theft of intellectual property. This could be inventions that need to be patented or copyrighted works whether pieces of architecture, software innovation, literature, music, or more. Trademarks such as logos and symbols must be protected, as well as service marks designating what you provide to your specific industry.

And while protecting from infringement is always something to guard against, there may also be true confusion regarding who intellectual property belongs to within the workplace. To avoid any gray area regarding your ownership over the innovations created within your business, employee confidentiality and non-disclosure/non-competition agreements are recommended whenever possible. While they cannot completely ensure you won’t have any problems or that you won’t have trade secrets walking out the door without your knowledge, they are your best preliminary bet for fending off complications and the potential for serious financial loss and harm to your company.

In the case that your intellectual property is being used without your permission and simple communication with the other party asking them to cease such activities is not effective, you do have legal recourse and should consult with a skilled intellectual property attorney as soon as possible. You may have questions about what makes intellectual property yours, and technically, it is yours as soon as it comes into being—as soon as you or an employee or independent contractor make it. In some cases, this could be enough to fight against infringement, but depending on the value of the items at hand you may not ever want to take that risk.

The other party may have considerable or unforeseen resources to fight you, even if they have taken what was your original creation. That could make suing more challenging if you have not applied for registration or licensing. Again, this is a job for your attorney, who can advise you on what type of applications and licenses to pursue, whether from the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office, the U.S. Copyright Office, or other entities for items like domain names and more.

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!

Which Form of Intellectual Property Protection Applies to Your Work?

Businesses of all sizes are innovating more than ever, as so many industries in the US continue to grow, with designers, engineers, and many different types of hardworking individuals finding new ways to improve processes or create new ones altogether, often requiring intellectual property protection. But if you are the owner of a company, whether it is new or has been in business for decades, you may just be learning about how to protect your work. This can be complex, and some find it intimidating to deal with from the outset which is why it is easier—and best—to work with an intellectual property attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm.

Interestingly, intellectual property does belong to you as soon as you create it—without your having to do anything else at all. And while registering your work with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or the U.S. Copyright Office, no matter which type it is, does give you more legal recourse should there be reason to sue or have to defend yourself, it is important to have confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements in place for employees just so that it is completely understood that your business retains ownership of the projects created within the company—and that trade secrets are not to be shared with any outside interests.

Your attorney will be able to advise you regarding which type (or types) of protection you need, but following are the basics in intellectual property:

  • Copyrights – this protects what are generally known as artistic works of expression, which could span everything from literature to pieces of architecture or even software. Such protection usually spans the lifetime of the creator and 70 years after that.
  • Trademarks – these are vital to businesses usually in the form of logos or symbols, and allow your customers to recognize you, often from far away (think of those ubiquitous golden arches!). Protecting your trademark means that other companies cannot infringe on branding that denotes the products you sell or service marks, denoting what services you offer to the public.
  • Patents relate to inventions and are usually good for around 20 years, meaning you have sole rights to distribution and manufacturing.

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!

trade secret

Business Topics: What Defines a Trade Secret

Tens of millions of business owners in the US are currently hard at work performing all the duties that may sometimes seem like a daily grind when it comes to necessities like ordering, scheduling, paying bills, and more, but there are also the more fulfilling facets such as creating dazzling marketing campaigns to bring in the customers, adding new employees to strengthen a growing team, making plans and goals and putting them into action, and most importantly, continuing to innovate and entice consumers. This may require registering copyrights—even to include a volume of work—trademarks and service marks, and inventions that must be patented.

Bringing forth new creations into your industry may encompass enormous financial resources, endless hours, and collaborations with a variety of team members, to include independent contractors who may be brought in at different times depending on projects. Some of what you produce may end up becoming trade secrets that are vital to your business for as long as it is running, and there is plenty to know about what defines them—and how to protect them.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a trade secret (also serving to ‘complement’ the patent) is used for business purposes and may comprise the following:

  • Formulas
  • Patterns
  • Compilations
  • Programs
  • Devices
  • Methods
  • Techniques
  • Processes

The USPTO states that courts can not only help businesses protect their trade secrets by ‘ordering parties that have misappropriated a trade secret to take steps to maintain its secrecy, as well as ordering payment of a royalty to the owner,’ but they can also force parties responsible for misappropriation to pay substantial fines and costs related to damages and legal fees. It is also up to the holder of the trade secret to make sure they do indeed maintain its secrecy; if they do not, it is then considered ‘released.’ 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

Intellectual Property Topics in Business: Protecting a Collection of Works

Owning a business is certainly not for the weak of heart—and this becomes apparent from the beginning. Moving past the dreaming about it and creating a concept phase, once you get into solidifying a business model, finding a site or building one out, procuring proper licensing, and founding a company, both the excitement—and stress—levels begin building. And for many this never ends, whether in a positive or negative manner. Running your own company is a multi-faceted endeavor that requires immense time, effort, and dedication; in fact, you may find that you begin spending more time there than at home, with your team beginning to feel like family as well.

Bringing in customers is central to your business, along with so many other elements that are important to helping your company thrive. They must know how to recognize your business, via a domain name, logos and trademarks familiarizing them with what products you offer, as well as service marks that designate what services you provide. From purchasing all the proper insurance coverage to putting a security system in place, protection is key to your business. And although you may not put much thought into it at first, this may be more important for your intellectual property than anything else! This is especially relevant if you are in the business of creating works that others may want to steal for their own advancement.

You may have a collection of pieces that require copyright protection too, preventing against infringement or unauthorized use by other parties. This could be architecture, software, or music, literature, or more. And the key here is that in protecting an entire body of work together—rather than piecemeal—you can cut out the repetition of multiple application processes and registrations, waiting periods (which are usually up to seven months or more), and the potential expense of registering multiple items.

Consult with a skilled attorney from the Bolender Law Firm to review your intellectual property needs, along with gaining more understanding about copyright protection and how important it is, from registering with the U.S. Copyright Office to handling employee and independent contractor agreements regarding non-disclosure. 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!


What Does a Copyright Protect?

While it may seem ridiculous to have to register your own ideas to own them, it isn’t really that complicated in the beginning; you are the owner of any expressions of artistic work as soon as you create them! Even without getting outside help or registering with a government entity such as the U.S. Copyright Office, a work of literature or music is instantaneously copyrighted to you. And while there may not be any paperwork to prove this, most likely you are in possession of the item and for anyone else to try and copyright it is either a highly coincidental occurrence or they have stolen the work from you.

Some individuals will take the extra step to create what is often referred to as a poor man’s copyright, mailing themselves a copy of a work or having it established with a notary and a signature and a date bearing evidence of the origins and date. Even that is not necessary though. As soon as you have written that screenplay, as soon as it is on paper with your name attached to it, the copyright is yours. It must, however, be a physical item—an idea or concept is not enough for a copyright and cannot be protected as such.

Intellectual property can be extremely valuable in some cases and should be protected. With the common law copyright, you are given some assurances that no one else can steal your work, but you could be on very shaky ground if you were forced to take legal action against another party for infringement. If you register your work, you then have exclusive rights to copy or distribute your work as you wish, make a sequel or follow-up work to the original, or display the work in the public or take it one step further by making a book or other expression into something like a play.

With proper registration, anyone infringing upon you could face penalties; in some cases, however, you may wish to license a copyright, trademark, service mark or other intellectual property to someone else, give permission for them to use your work, or you may even want to sell your copyrighted work. Other examples of works protected by copyright include:

  • Software programs
  • Architectural plans
  • Buildings
  • Choreography
  • Sculpture
  • Sound recordings

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!

Trade Secrets: Your Team Must Understand the Importance of Protecting Them

To say that running a business is a multi-faceted endeavor would be a great understatement–not to mention complexities such as creating and protecting trade secrets. The list of pros and cons is lengthy, and in many cases could be considered a draw. Still though, hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs in the US continue, watching their dreams become reality as they open offices, offer products and services to consumers in need, and put together teams of employees all meant to be working toward the same goal: running a successful business.

Employees Should Have Guidelines to Refer To

Any company is only as good as its employees, and as the boss—it is up to you to train your people and make sure they really understand your mission statement, are well-trained at what they do, encouraged to keep innovating and making the business better, as well as being thoroughly apprised of all policies and procedures. For a company of any size, it is vital to have a manual (this may be small depending on how many people you hire—or it may be a larger tome) that new employees, as well as those who have been there for a longer amount of time, can refer to. And while all typical daily issues should be covered, as well as benefits and more, confidentiality should also be discussed in terms of products and services. This should include intellectual property.

You may think it is common sense for your team to keep what happens at work contained within those walls, but often employees are excited and proud of what they are working on, or perhaps even tired and frustrated, but this can lead them to discuss what they are working on with family members, friends outside of the company, and others who may even be in competition with you ((if not presently, in the future, and especially if they get the idea that you are onto something good). Everyone should understand that all intellectual property is owned by the business and trade secrets are to remain exactly that. And if you are serious about taking legal action against those who may compromise your intellectual property, make it clear.

Protecting Your Business is Key

Business is business, and this means you must protect your company’s innovations at all cost. Monitoring all projects going on is critical, and even those of the people you trust the most. Make sure you have a good feel for what is going on with everyone in your circle, as well as continually checking in with managers who may work for you too. Keeping leaks from happening means being vigilant about what information comes and goes through office doors—as well as continually making sure that your team is aware of what they are cannot share, even when they may have signed a confidentiality agreement. And that agreement is necessary! This gives you the right to pursue legal action later should you need to sue someone for infringement of your intellectual property.

Contact Us 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!