Tag: Intellectual property attorney

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!

 

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!

patent

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!

trademark

What Does a Trademark Actually Protect?

As a business owner, you will usually have an exhausting list of tasks on your plate, whether counted daily, monthly, or annually. You may even have many customers or clients who visit your business frequently and mention how wonderful it seems to own your own business. Often you may agree with them—and even encourage them to open their own businesses; however, many others of us find ourselves chasing that American Dream diligently, until we discover that it is extremely challenging to stay on top in the marketplace.

Most business owners are busy keeping up with the constant challenge of having enough capital, keeping the growing list of bills paid, and trying to keep everyone happy, managing employees, managing inventory, keeping the peace with partnerships, and the list goes on.

One area of protection and one major task that can be easily overlooked when your business is new, especially, and you are worrying about many other important things, is the trademark. The trademark is essentially, your brand. This may designate your products, with a logo or a symbol or even a mark on stationary. Trademarks may also be given for services, as service marks are a subset of the trademark category.

With registration of a trademark you have numerous legal benefits to include the right to use that trademark and its corresponding symbol, along with the right to sue someone for infringement if they try to steal your intellectual property. With the help of an experienced intellectual property or trademark attorney, you will need to apply through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Before registering for a copyright or trademark, or any other intellectual property, it is also a good idea to make sure no one else has registered anything similar. Keep in mind too that intellectual property is yours, owned by you, as soon as it comes to being—whether in your home or company. Registering it just gives you greater leverage if someone were to steal your intellectual property.

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!

Can there Be More Than One Owner for a Patent?

For an entrepreneur, there is nothing more exciting than getting into the momentum of innovation, creating a business plan and a business model—not to mention an incredible business product that you know will make an impact within your industry. And even though your business may be new, capital may always be a pressing concern, and you may have a lot on your plate in every way, protecting intellectual property is just as important as protecting everything else in your business; in fact, without the proper protection now, you could find yourself extremely regretful later if someone has stolen a patent, or even a copyright or trademark.

Patents can be complex to apply for, and on average take around 21 months to come through from the date of applying. Dealing with the patent application process is a job for an intellectual property attorney, or more specifically a patent attorney. Unless you have extensive legal knowledge, writing a patent and completing the process most likely would prove to be very challenging, and considering how long it takes a patent to be approved, it is critical to have your application filled out correctly.

There may be added complications in applying for the patent also, if there is some question as to ownership. Did you hire an independent contractor who came in and worked on a dynamic, exciting new project, creating the intellectual property that was left to your business permanently? If so, you should have an airtight contract with them, detailing the work they did, the duration of their employment, and making it very clear that any work created for the company belongs to the company. If you do feel comfortable with having them as part owner of the patent, then that should be in a written contract, or agreed upon if the patent is created later and is not included in any of the details of their initial contract.

There can be more than one owner for a patent, however, and if that is the case, both should be listed on the application as joint owners. There could be some gray area, however, if for example you created the entire invention and lead the process from beginning to end, while the other person only did work as instructed. In that case, they were really acting in the stead of an employee rather than an inventor. Because innovation today can be so valuable tomorrow, it could be vital to the success of your company to have everything in writing.

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!

Does Your Business Need to Apply for a Patent?

Creating a business model is a multi-faceted project, and one that can be ongoing throughout the lifetime of your company. Along with this comes a host of other responsibilities such as creating your brand, establishing partnerships and agreements, hiring, establishing benefits packages, designing marketing campaigns—and oh yes, somewhere in there too: establishing a solid client base! There are many elements to founding and maintaining a healthy business, and while there is much to protect, intellectual property must be at the top of the list.

You may be an inventor yourself, or either full-time employees or independent contractors may be creating innovative products for your company. And although that is another somewhat complex subject, if you do have independent contractors working for you, it is vital that you have airtight agreements to protect what is your property essentially—unless stated otherwise. Before you wonder about patents further though, understand how they are defined. According to the United States Patent and Trade Office, a patent is issued when they grant property rights for an invention to the inventor. It does not expire for 20 years after filing of the application and gives you the right to exclude everyone else from using the invention, making it, and selling it in the US. Everyone else is also excluded from importing it into the US.

“Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO,” states the USPTO.

“The patent law specifies the general field of subject matter that can be patented and the conditions under which a patent may be obtained,” continues USPTO information.

 “In the language of the statute, any person who ‘invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent,’ subject to the conditions and requirements of the law. The word ‘process’ is defined by law as a process, act, or method, and primarily includes industrial or technical processes. The term ‘machine’ used in the statute needs no explanation. The term ‘manufacture’ refers to articles that are made and includes all manufactured articles. The term ‘composition of matter’ relates to chemical compositions and may include mixtures of ingredients as well as new chemical compounds. These classes of subject matter taken together include practically everything that is made by man and the processes for making the products.”

 If your business owns rights to an invention that needs this type of protection, then you do need to apply for a patent. Work with an experienced intellectual property attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm. There are some pre-application steps that are very important and getting help from a legal professional versed in patents is in your best interest as you determine what type of patent you need, whether there are other similar (or identical) ones in existence already, and more. Understanding patent laws and the application process can be complicated.

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

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 https://bolender-firm.com) 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!

patent

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!