Tag: Intellectual property attorney

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!

 

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!

copyright

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!

Selling Your Business Patent

Looking back on every business you went into over the past week to complete errands or make purchases, consider that each one of them (even the franchises!) sprang originally from a dream, an idea, a concept in someone’s mind that could eventually turn into an invention requiring a business patent. Coupled with drive and determination, that idea turned into a real product or service, situated at a real business site—with all the real responsibilities of bringing in clients, maintaining capital, managing employees, and more.

And while you are probably a customer at many other businesses on a regular basis, you may also be an entrepreneur running a company of your own where it is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind that you forget what the original inspiration or motivation was to begin with. Staying fresh and continuing to innovate is vital to any business though, and while you may have trademarks or service marks already in place—perhaps even copyrights—you, your employees, or independent contractors may also be continuing to create intellectual property like patents.

A patent is defined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office as an invention which can be divided into three categories: utility, design, or plant (and yes, that literally refers to the discovery or creation of a new plant). Once you have registered for a patent—and it is highly recommended that you work with an intellectual property attorney in doing so—you may have a bit of a wait, anywhere from a matter of months to almost two years on average, and very possibly even longer. A patent is usually good for around 20 years and means that you have the sole rights to manufacturing and distribution.

In some cases, you may have a patent that you want to sell—or you may want to grant licensing rights. While selling it is a great way to make income that could perhaps fund another invention, it is permanent. Speak to your attorney about the best route for your business, along with the legalities of selling it, along with considering whether your better option would be to sell licensing and perhaps collect royalties. Working with another entity for licensing can be tricky so do not go it alone when negotiating agreements and drafting contracts.

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!

business trademark

Renewing Your Business Trademark

There are so many elements to running a business, and if you are operating a new start-up or running a business by yourself, several priorities take precedent over everything else in the beginning. You must have a place to operate your business and getting this squared away can be full-time for a while, whether you are buying or renting; either way, you must deal with real estate or leasing agents, finances, contracts, and make some big decisions. A business model must already be in place too—and it may be requested by either the bank or a potential landlord as they seek assurance that you will be able to pay your bills. Most importantly, you must have capital to get the ball rolling—and keep it rolling! This will pave the way for success and allow you to hire a team and purchase inventory and keep doing so.

The Trademark May Become Integral to Your Brand

Once you have the essentials lined up, everything else will fall into place—to include advertising, marketing, and setting goals for your employees. Whether you have a full-time team in place or are working with independent contractors—or a mixture thereof—projects will be on-going and creating intellectual property will be important as you go on. Items such as the trademark may be vital to your business early on, however, as they give the public a way to familiarize themselves with your brand and may even invoke a certain emotion in customers when they see your logo or symbol. And while this may just be a simple idea in the beginning as your brand is born, be aware that your intellectual property can be extremely valuable later—which is why you should protect your trademark by registering it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office from the beginning, even if it is somewhat protected by common law from the moment you create it.

Renew Your Trademark for Indefinite Use

A trademark can be extremely beneficial to your business, and it is also long-lasting if you keep up with renewals. Starting out, this intellectual property protection is good for ten years, and then as long as you keep up with the required paperwork and keep renewing it, your trademark is protected indefinitely in ten-year stretches. If you fail to meet the renewal dates, it will be canceled by the USPTO.

Contact Us for Help Now!

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!