Tag: Intellectual property lawyer

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!


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!



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!

intellectual property

How Long Does Intellectual Property Last?

As a business owner, your knowledge will become vast over the years regarding many different subjects. Not only will you be required to understand every nuance about the products and services you are selling, how to fight the competition, and how to manage your finances, but you will also need to understand how to deal with labor law, employees, benefits, partnerships, commercial real estate and insurance, and so much more. But along with all these items, you will also need to protect intangible items, like intellectual property.

While it may seem complex—and indeed it is—registering for and maintaining your intellectual property is a must, along with ensuring that you have proper agreements signed with employees and independent contractors regarding non-disclosure and confidentiality. Whether you have copyrights, trademarks, service marks, or patents, knowing how long each license lasts can be vital, so that you know when to reapply. The power is left to you to make sure these protections are enforced in most cases, along with seeing that the licenses are kept up to date.

Most intellectual property lasts as follows:

  • Copyrights – these usually last for the lifetime of the ‘author,’ as well as 70 years past that. Copyrights refer to artistic expressions of work, but for your business purposes could also be software, architectural structures, and more.
  • Trademarks/Service marks – this type of intellectual property is good in ten-year increments that can be renewed indefinitely. Both trademarks and service marks (which serve as a subset of trademarks) apply to branding mechanisms, helping customers identify with the products and services you offer. Your trademark typically may be a logo or a symbol, and your service mark may be a word, slogan, or catch phrase created for marketing purposes.
  • Patents – from the time of application, these are good for around 20 years. Patents apply to inventions and are vital to keep others from stealing the right to use, make, sell, or import them.
  • Trade secrets – these are protected ‘without procedure or formality,’ and indefinitely so, but they must be something unknown to others, have commercial value, and you must be working to maintain the secrecy of such 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!


your trademark

Your Trademark: What are the Benefits of Registering it Federally?

You may have heard the term ‘trademark’ bandied around forever—but perhaps not quite understood the nuances between that and other intellectual property. This is common for most of us, but the distinctions become apparent quickly when you start thinking about applying for protection of a mark that represents your brand.

Trademarks Apply to Your Brand

Trademarks apply directly to your business, while copyrights protect different forms of artistic work such as literature, movies, music, and even software and architecture. If you have invented something, as in a product or a process, you may want to apply for a patent. Trademarks are generally represented by logos or symbols, and they tend to draw customers to you over time due to their familiarity with your trademark as your brand continues to be marketed (quite heavily in some cases, depending on your business). Service marks, a subset of trademarks, may also be registered. The difference between a service mark and a trademark is that the service mark represents what your company offers to the public. Rather than just an emblem or a picture that reminds consumers who you are, the service mark tells them, with a slogan or short catch phrase.

Registering Your Trademark Protects Your Business Further

And while it is true that as soon as you create a trademark or service mark it is yours—and should be uniquely yours, registering it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office gives you more power to sue another party should they attempt to steal your mark or infringe on your design or company slogan. While such protection may not seem vital in the beginning, and you may feel like you have too many other things that are more important to deal with, taking care of your intellectual property could prove to be incredibly valuable later—not to mention saving you time from going to court or battling with another entity who has their eyes on your logo or slogan.

Once a trademark is approved (this could take up to a year), it is usually good for ten years and can be reinstated in ten-year increments. If you have intellectual property that you suspect needs protection, speak to a skilled intellectual property attorney as soon as possible. This will help steer you in the right direction regarding what type of application or registration is appropriate for your business, as well as helping you to streamline the whole process and make sure you are protected in the case that legal recourse was necessary.

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!

Your Intellectual Property Needs

Intellectual Property Needs: Is a Copyright License Enough?

While some businesses take off from the very start and allow their owners enormous—and startling—success, for the average entrepreneur there are many challenges initially. It may take quite some time to get a new company off the ground, and then the challenges in maintaining enough capital can be staggering. Inventory must be purchased, employees must be paid, along with all the essential bills that come with running an office like rent, utilities, supplies, and so much more.

Along with the long list of routine duties that must be continually completed, you must please your public too, no matter what type of industry you are catering to. For most business owners, that means creating unique products and services that set them apart, and if you cannot, your prospects for the future may be slim. This is why protecting everything you have built is so important too—from having your business properly insured and updated to making sure information about your specific innovations is not leaked, and trade secrets don’t walk out the door.

Intellectual property law may seem intimidating, but with the help of a skilled law firm like the Bolender Law Firm, you can look forward to guidance in registering your unique concepts, artistic work, slogans, services, inventions, and more—along with ensuring that you have legal recourse should another party infringe. You may be familiar with the term copyright, but unsure as to exactly what that encompasses.

In applying for a copyright, you may be hoping to protect information on your website, or protect written or other artistic works like music, screenplays, text (a cookbook would be a good example), architecture, or software. In some cases, the copyright may not be expansive enough for your needs in terms of protecting your individual or company’s work from infringement; for instance, you may be interested in copyrighting a computer program that you wrote, but a patent may be required to protect it further from infringement by others as you are able to protect the system and its processes—in other words, it may be in your best interest to go a step further in applying for a patent to protect the way your software or other creation works.

For more on different types of intellectual property, check out some of our previous blogs discussing issues such as trademarks and service marks too. 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!