At Lodestone Legal Group, we are committed to helping our clients protect their intellectual property by providing strategic guidance leading to cost-effective, concrete results. So, what is “intellectual property” or “I.P.”, and why should you care about protecting it? Essentially, it is the collection of rights that you have in the work product of your mind - your inventions, your trade names and symbols, your literary, artistic, or musical works, etc. In many businesses, these are the greatest assets; yet so often they go unprotected. And that is where we come in.
We invite you to contact us today in Franklin to schedule your FREE initial consultation so that we can assist you in both determining what intellectual property assets you may have and then protecting those assets to the extent advisable under patent, trademark, copyright, and other laws. We want to help our clients understand their options and make informed decisions in all areas that affect them, including the I.P. implications of what they are doing.
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What Are My Options?
When many clients think of “I.P.” they think of patents – the notion of owning their unique ideas. For some, the invention relates to their business or profession and embodies the “next generation” product that they hope will set them apart in the market. For others, their invention is unrelated to their “day job” but is still thought to be of value to a particular industry as solving a problem in a new or different way, with the hope being to “monetize” such an idea through the sale or licensing of the invention and any related patent, versus launching a business or product around the idea themselves.
Regardless, the best and really only way to stake a claim to an inventive idea is through the limited exclusive right or government-issued monopoly called a “patent.” The process and costs can be significant and certainly daunting without help. And so our aim at Lodestone is to assist clients in navigating all the issues related to patenting their idea, from patentability determinations to filing and advancing patent applications in the U.S. and abroad.
Trademarks may be the most often confused and overlooked area of “I.P.” In fact, clients sometimes indicate that they want to “patent” or “copyright” their name, when in fact their brand name can only be protected under trademark law, which is what they really mean. Trademark protection attaches to any word, name, symbol, device, or dress (i.e., a product’s packaging or shape), or any combination of these, that identifies and distinguishes one person’s goods or services from another’s.
At Lodestone we walk clients through the entire trademark process, from selecting and clearing a mark to advising regarding “use in commerce” to registering their mark at the state, federal, or even international level, thus securing their rights in the name of their product or service, which is often the most valuable form of protection for them and their business – after all, that is the name that their customers will be searching to locate them and their products or services versus their competitors’, and trademarks are perpetual, unlike patents and copyrights that are granted for a limited time. So, trademark is an area that many businesses need to really focus on, and we are here to help with expert advice and timely execution on behalf of our clients in the area of their branding.
When it comes to creative expression and copyrightable subject matter, the phrase "works of authorship" in the definition of “copyright” is much broader than novels or poems as such might suggest, and ranges from paintings to photographs, from musical compositions to musical performances, from sculptures to buildings, and from short stories to software. Whenever a person puts pen to paper or makes a recording of their original work of authorship, they have a copyright in that work as of that moment, regardless of whether the work is published or ever registered.
But what is often missed is that registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is required to ever enforce such rights. And while the registration forms may seem fairly straight-forward, there are a number of pitfalls awaiting the unwary, with further complications arising when multiple “authors” or contributors are involved or preexisting “public domain” materials are included in the work to be registered. So-called “fair use” and First Amendment free speech rights come into play with copyrights as well. Our role at Lodestone Legal Group is to guide clients through the copyright registration process so that they can properly stake their claim to what is rightfully theirs.
Beyond the I.P. “big three” of patent, trademark, and copyright, there are a number of related issues that often come into play for individuals and businesses of all kinds and may be overlooked or misunderstood, ranging from Internet implications of domain names and shared links, to addressing I.P. ownership in employment and independent contractor agreements, to sale or licensing of such I.P. rights once secured.
“Trade secret” often comes up in these contexts as an alternative to patenting, there are also tensions to be explored between patenting and copyrighting in connection with aesthetic product designs, and enforcement and rights and permissions issues can get complicated. We at Lodestone come alongside our clients each step of the way to help them proactively steer clear of trouble and secure rights where possible in all such areas.
The information and materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not intended for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney for advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Accessing this website, the material posted on this website, the email links contained within this site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Lodestone Legal Group and the user. The opinions expressed on this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not represent the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.
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