Tag: Intellectual property lawyers

Why Does It Take So Long to Get a Patent?

While designing a logo or coming up with a slogan or a patent for a new company may seem like a simple thing to do when you are first dreaming up your business model, intellectual property has the potential to become one of the most valuable things you will ever own; in fact, this is one of the biggest reasons you should have a skilled business attorney working with you in founding your company, as well as someone who is experienced enough to guide you in intellectual property matters — especially patents, which can be more complicated (and most would probably agree that the items being patented are more complicated to create too).

Although copyright law, trademarks, service marks, and more can be complicated, patents really can be complex to apply for and it is in your best interest to have legal help for the application process with the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO). The process may be costly and can take some time. While it may seem inconvenient to have to wait so long for a patent to be approved, it is a comprehensive process on the part of the USPTO, with utility patents usually taking longer than design patents; in fact, they could stretch out even beyond five years from the date of application. A design patent usually takes around 18 months on average.

In working with an attorney, it may take up to several weeks just to have the application completed correctly. Keep in mind that while you are waiting for approval from the USPTO, the status on your invention will be ‘patent pending,’ and you can begin (or continue) making, selling, and even licensing your invention. You may also be able to pay for prioritized examination of your patent, but these slots are limited, coveted, and expensive.

The bottom line is, no matter how you go about the process, your intellectual property should be as protected as possible. For most items though, it becomes your intellectual property as soon as you create it. The only difference is that if you have not registered for something specific like a patent for an invention, it could be stolen by another interested (and greedy!) party, and you could have to fight to prohibit them from using your design. If you have protected your intellectual property with the proper applications and registration, you have a much better chance of winning in court.

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

Trade secret protection

Intellectual Property: Why Trade Secret Protection is Different

Intellectual property is a necessity for most businesses today, whether you realize you are engaging in creating it and owning it or not. As soon as you make it or have it designed, it is yours. Most new companies start out building their brand. This can be an extensive marketing task, from complex advertising campaigns to creating logos (trademarks) to slogans indicating what you do (service marks), and so much more.

Copyrights come into play once artistic works have been created too, whether you are in the business of software, architecture, screenplays, literature, music, etc. Patents generally apply to inventions you have made (whether they are utility, design, or plant patents) and want to be given exclusive rights for manufacturing, selling, and importing. Trade secrets, however, are different because you are not actually granted a license for this type of intellectual property; rather it is defined as “a piece of information that has independent economic value by not being generally known and can reasonably be maintained a secret.”

Trade secrets are protected by the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, but as a business there are numerous measures you must take such as identifying what needs protection and labeling it, having proper storage, and keeping it secret. There should be suitable security measures taken to protect trade secrets, and employees should understand what the definition is of a trade secret, and if they have access to them at work, they should be apprised of the rules regarding confidentiality.

You may have hired independent contractors who were responsible for creating the contents of trade secrets, and at times this type of ownership can get tricky if it was not spelled out to begin with. Speak with your business attorney regarding the use of non-disclosure agreements and create company policy to be outlined in any available employee manuals. Most importantly, when an employee leaves your company or their job is terminated, they should be required to participate in an exit interview. A discussion regarding confidentiality of trade secrets should occur then too. Remember: if you are not able to protect your trade secret properly, the government is not responsible for it, and any responsibility on their part is eliminated.

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

Intellectual Property: Why Trademark Clearance Searches Are in Your Best Interest

Intellectual property could prove to be one of your most valuable assets many years from now. If your company is new, establishing a solid brand may be on your list of goals, but it probably seems like something you won’t need to worry about protecting for a while; after all, building a business is usually centered around building capital and a clientele.

Research Before Attempting to Register

Marketing is key, however, and that logo or symbol that you created to denote familiarity with your company may be with you for the long run. It could be something extremely simple too, keeping in mind designs like the swish or the arches that draw customers back year after year to spend billions! You may need a trademark for an extremely professional branding mechanism like a logo or even a crest, word, or phrase that allows the public to understand what you are selling. Along with this come service marks too, different because they designate services offered by your company, rather than the products.

Although intellectual property belongs to you as soon as you create it, consult with your intellectual property attorney about protecting it the right way, registering with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Before doing so, however, it is important to have your attorney run a search on the current trademarks (and service marks) already in existence. Knowing what is already out there will let you know what you might be up against should there be any sort of infringement issue. Having something that is similar or identical could cause legal problems for you, and conversely, once your trademark is registered, it makes it difficult for someone else to infringe on your tools for branding your business.

Understand What Type of Protection You Need

Once you do have a registered trademark through the USPTO, it is usually good forever, but you must continue to use it and pay for continued registration as required for ten-year terms. Other types of intellectual property such as copyrights and patents can be applied for too, for relatively long periods of time, allowing you to protect your company further. Speak to your attorney about what licenses or registration are best for your intellectual property—you may be surprised at what you find out!

Contact Us Now 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!

intellectual property

Intellectual Property: Does Common Law Really Play a Role?

While there are the numerous headaches that abound in creating a company, much of the process is incredibly exciting and fulfilling—especially if you are offering a new and unique product or service to the public. You or your company overall may also be responsible for creating valuable intellectual property. This could result in the need for copyright protection, warding off infringement of works such as art, literature, music, or even architecture or software. Trademarks or service marks are licensed for branding identifiable symbols or logos, or slogans that identify what you do.

Intellectual Property Belongs to You as Soon as You Create It

You may be surprised to find out, however, that as soon as you created that artistic expression or symbol of your brand, it became yours—with no further action required. Common law does indeed apply to items that fall under the definition of a copyright or a trademark or service mark and may even be enough of a defense if someone attempts to steal your work. What are the benefits of just allowing yourself to be covered by common law? One, it’s effortless. Two, there is no more expense involved, unless you are drawn into a costly legal battle to protect your intellectual property. Be aware though that protection only applies to use of the products or services within the area they are expected to be in use.

Registering Your Work is Recommended

Common law gives you basic rights to, and coverage for what you have created, but without going through the U.S. Copyright Office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, you may be out of luck later if you find yourself in a situation where you are up against another party that stubbornly wants to use your material, and may have considerably more resources to steamroll over you. When your work is registered, it also shows up in searches when others are trying to find out whether there is something similar in existence; if you are not listed in that database, you could be opening yourself up to complication.

Figuring out how to protect your company’s intellectual property may seem like a daunting task, but with the help of an experienced intellectual property attorney, you can gain more of an understanding of how the process works, as well as its importance. An attorney will also be able to explain to you what types of licensing or registration to apply for and take care of it for you. While you may not see a dire need currently, this type of protection could prove itself to be very valuable later.

Call 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!

intellectual property topics

Intellectual Property Topics: Understanding the Role of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Most businesses today spring from someone’s dream, their inspiration, and the motivation and drive to create products or services that may have not been there before. The reality of founding a new company, however, usually means many hours at the office, enormous sweat equity, and what may seem like countless steps (many of them uphill!) to that launch—and continued success afterward. Once you are up and running, it is vital to either handle or delegate financial matters, ordering, employee hiring and scheduling, and most importantly, continuing to bring in loyal customers.

Your livelihood (and that of everyone who works for you) is centered around the unique products and services that keep people coming in, and because of that they must be guarded. And while either you specifically have created intellectual property relevant to your business, or partners or employees or independent contractors may have done so, your copyrights, trademarks, and patents should not be left open to outside parties who may have every intention of taking them for their own later.

One of the most interesting facts about intellectual property that most are not aware of until they begin considering licenses is that once you create it, the rights are yours. The intellectual property does belong to you, and is protected by common law, but that doesn’t do much for you in a court of law if you must sue another party for stealing a patent or infringing on a trademark. In working with your intellectual property attorney to register your works, you will learn that all patents and trademarks are approved and licensed through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The USPTO oversees processes for trademark applications and patent applications. As you move forward to register a trademark or a service mark, it is vital to select one that is registrable and realistically, will be one that can be protected legally. You must be able to establish what your mark format as, along with identifying the products and services connected with it. Trademark fees vary, but once everything is submitted, the review process could take months. Once approved, it is yours for ten years, and can be renewed for ten more years after that. In registering a patent, you must include a summary outlining the details of the patent and how it works, any relevant drawings, and then again, the application and fees. The wait for approval could be up to several years, but once approved it is good for around 20 years from the filing date.

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!

Registering intellectual property

Registering Intellectual Property: Work With Your Attorney

In starting a new business, there is so much to consider—beginning with the actual structure of your company. Are you forming a traditional corporation, a partnership, or perhaps an LLC with yourself as the sole proprietor? Beyond that, what about your business model? What are you offering to the public and who will you hire to help you on your mission? Are there partners to set up agreements with, along with full-time employees and independent contractors?

From the initial paperwork as you set up your company, to contracts with vendors, a wide range of individuals who may work for you in numerous different capacities, and so much more, there is an overwhelming amount of time and effort that goes into both the creation of and the protection of your new or existing company. And that is something that you must fit in along with daily operations that from the outset can require exceedingly long hours—not to mention the never-ending concerns about capital that may be diminishing and cash flow that must continue to keep the doors open. Required insurance (along with other recommended policies) must be purchased, and you also need to protect yourself in the case of customers being injured on site or employees being hurt on the job.

But what about protecting the very essence of what makes your company so special? From your products and services to inventions and innovative concepts, consider the intellectual property your company possesses today. Although trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and other types of intellectual property are yours as soon as you create it or begin using slogans and logos, that doesn’t mean they could not be easily stolen and used by others!

Consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney to register through the following agencies, giving you true proof of ownership:

  • S. Copyright Office – work with your attorney to find out more about how you should send copies of your work to this agency, as well as filling out the required application for approval. You may be able to apply online, unless hard copies are required. Copyrights usually protect artistic expressions of work such as books, screenplays, music, art, and more from infringement. Once you have a copyright for your work (and keep in mind, you can also register a collection of multiple works at once), the registration lasts while you are alive, plus another 70 years after that.
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office – here, your attorney will help you apply for the proper licenses for patents, which are good for around 20 years, unless you have a design patent, which is usually good for 14 years. Trademarks (or service marks which are a subcategory of the trademark, allowing for an explanation of what a company does rather than what products it offers) are also applied for through the USPTO, allowing you protect goods and services.

Speak with your attorney about business contracts or partnerships contracts that may involve intellectual property; for instance, how is this divided in the case of one partner (or an independent contractor) leaving—or what if you sell the business altogether? This can get tricky legally, but a skilled intellectual property attorney can discuss your options with you and make sure it is all put 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!

Intellectual property

Intellectual Property: Protect That Trademark

Many find the subject of intellectual property to be both complex and intimidating—and sometimes so much so that valuable business innovations go unprotected. Think of all that you protect when it comes to your company, whether you are just starting up or have been in operation for years. From protecting your company’s image and reputation within the industry you are involved in, to ensuring the security and safety of employees, real estate, and physical contents of your office or warehouse, there are many details to tend to—not to mention the actual running of your business. Accountants help ensure your financial health while your insurance company should see to it that you have all the correct coverages should a claim arise later.

A skilled business attorney from a firm like Bolender Law Firm can assist with many legal aspects of your business, from drawing up contracts to assisting in acquisitions, or providing representation in the unfortunate case of a lawsuit. When it comes to protecting your brand, however, this is another area where knowledgeable legal advice is necessary. Your attorney can help you pinpoint what type of intellectual property you really have and then move forward to discuss the different types of licenses and registration required.

The trademark is key to many businesses today, and there are some famous ones for sure—as in clothing logos, restaurants logos, and so much more. It may also be a word, or a phrase tied to a company and the goods they provide. The trademark also encompasses the service mark which is often a slogan designed to remind consumers of the services a business provides to the public. The trademark is yours by common law as soon as you design it and begin using it. And while you may own a small business now and foresee no threat of anyone stealing your trademark or any other intellectual property, by registering with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you have formal ownership for ten years, with the opportunity to keep renewing it. This formal registration allows you to take legal action should someone try to use your trademark without permission, and it also puts you on solid ground for selling it later or granting use of temporarily.

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!

service marks

Service Marks: Does Your Brand Need One?

For so many business owners in the US, a company blooms based on a dream, a concept, and an eventual innovative product that can be manufactured or a unique service that can be offered to the public. The marketplace is competitive for nearly anyone today, and creating a business that will succeed takes savvy, ingenuity, and the willingness to put in many hours. Along with your vision, mission, and business strategy comes a need for protection too. This may come in the form of security at your new business, insurance policies, and a variety of different legal measures such as partnership contracts, independent contractor agreements, and more.

The Service Mark is a Type of Trademark

Protecting your intellectual property may be much more of a concern than you realize too. While you may be familiar with terms such as copyrights, patents, and trademarks, you may be less familiar with the service mark. This is intellectual property that falls within the trademark category, but rather than offering a logo or symbol, the service mark denotes what it is you offer to the public. This might be in the form of a slogan, for example, or as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) states, something that will “identify services, that is, intangible activities, which are performed by one person for the benefit of a person or persons other than himself, either for pay or otherwise.”

Protect Your Intellectual Property Through the USPTO

A trademark or service mark is yours once you begin using it (make sure when you create yours that no one else has registered one), but without registering it through the USPTO you would not be able to take legal action against another party if they used it without your permission. There may be times however, that another entity may purchase your service mark or have rights to use it—most especially if you sell them your business and transfer your intellectual property to them.

Protection of marks, copyrights, and patents is critical to any business, along with taking measures to make sure employees and independent contractors are aware that they belong to your company and are not to be ‘taken’ once they stop working for you, whether in quitting their jobs or finishing a contract. Employees currently working for you should also clearly understand confidentiality requirements which may be outlined in a non-disclosure agreement.

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!