Archive for ‘Intellectual Property Law’

November 28, 2012

Major Changes in Patent Law

Patent laws in the United States recently received a major overhaul with significant changes for inventors.  One of the most important changes is from a “first to invent” system, where the first person to actually invent is granted a patent, to a “first inventor to file” system where the first filing date wins, regardless of who was the earliest inventor.

read more »

May 18, 2011

Steps to Forming a Business

Before starting a business, there are several necessary steps to take in order to make sure the business is legal and complies with local, state, and federal statutes, regulations, and taxes. The attorneys at The Carroll Law Firm PLC have put together the following checklist to assist clients in starting their business.

PLANNING STAGES

  • Create a Business Plan
    A business plan should include business goals, an executive summary, business description, projected costs, profits, and losses, business environment analysis, industry background, competitor analysis, market analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management summary, and financial plan. Be realistic with your plan, most businesses don’t turn a profit until the end of the first year due to start-up costs and the fact that a clientele list takes a while to build.

    read more »

April 20, 2011

What You Should Know about Copyright Laws

Of all the things we own, our home and its belongings are probably our most prized possessions. We buy insurance to cover it in case of loss; we lock it up when we leave; we install security systems; and we still have our neighbors watch over it when we are gone for long periods of time. Why does this desire to protect our home not transfer to the work we produce or the ideas we create? Perhaps we simply don’t know how to protect this work.

In today’s world with everyone on the computer, protecting one’s work and ideas has become a serious issue. Many think nothing of taking someone’s written work and just copying, cutting, and pasting it without making any mention of whom the original author is. Even in our digital world there is a way to legally protect your work, and that is by obtaining a federal copyright. A copyright is defined as “the right given to the author of artistic and intellectual works to be the only person who has the right to reproduce the work and distribute copies. The owner also has the right to keep others from trying to reproduce the entire or part of the work. Once the work is created or documented, the copyright belongs to the owner or creator of the art or intellectual property.” In many cases when an employee creates a copyrightable work, the employer owns the rights to the work under the “work for hire” doctrine.

Copyrights are registered only by the copyright office of the Library of Congress.   An application has to be completed and sent in for approval. This application must be submitted within three months from the date of the 1st publication of the work. You need to know that ownership or possession of a book, a manuscript, or a painting for example, does not give a person the copyright to the work. One must obtain permission from the copyright holder to reuse it.

There are a lot of questions that you may have concerning a copyright. For example, you might ask, “What are the requirements for a copyright? What does ‘public domain’ mean and how does it apply to a copyright? Or what is ‘fair use?’” You may also wonder how long copyright protection would last. In most cases, 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. An attorney can explain circumstances where these time periods would not apply.

Obtaining a good law firm to help you through this might be the best option for you. They can help with you with the copyright registration and licensing. If there is copyright litigation, they are a necessity in representing you and protecting your rights. The Carroll Law Firm is here to walk you through the process, to answer any of your questions, and to make sure that your original works and/or the expression of your ideas are protected. Your home and its possessions are important, but your authorship of artistic and intellectual works is just as important. Let us help you to legally protect these possessions as well.

April 15, 2011

Am I required to use my trademark (sell items with the trademark) before I apply for a federal trademark registration?

The short answer is no.

You can apply for a federal trademark registration even if you have not used a product. Prior to Nov. 16, 1989 a trademark application could not be submitted without proof that the trademark had already been “used in commerce.” This resulted in large companies shipping small quantities of products with a trademark they were considering for future use, so that they could go through the trademark registration process (usually one year or more) prior to a full launch of a product.

Then congress enacted the Trademark Law Revision Act of 1988 (effective Nov. 16, 1989) which allows a different kind of application called an “intent-to-use” application. For this application you only need to sign a statement or oath that you intend to use the trademark that you are applying for. If the application is approved you are given 6 months to show proof that you are now using the trademark in commerce. Extensions of time may be available (up to 36 months) if you qualify, but a federally registered trademark is not issued until you submit proof of use in commerce. There are additional costs to the intent-to-use application, but it allows a company to find out if a trademark will be approved before spending significant costs on branding and packaging.

April 15, 2011

The Purpose and Process of Obtaining a Trademark

A trademark is not the same as registering the name of your business. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or logo that distinguishes and identifies the source of goods of one company or person from another. Trademarks can also be granted to a business for its unique packaging, building designs, color, sound, and even fragrance.

In order to establish a trademark, one must do more than merely claim it. You have to register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and use the trademark in more than one state or at least transport the product across state lines. Also, you cannot get a trademark for something that simply just describes the product in general, like soda instead of Pepsi Cola. Thus, the more distinctive your name or symbol is, the more likely you will be able to trademark it.

The application process can many months to complete. It may, therefore, be wise for you to use the TM symbol during the application process to establish your intention to use the mark as your business’s trademark. Once your trademark is registered, it gives you exclusive rights to use the name or symbol on your particular goods. By protecting the use of your business product, name, or symbol you can attract new customers while allowing your old customers to identify your business with more ease.

Because the process of obtaining a trademark is detailed and time consuming, ask a lawyer to advise you how to move forward so that you do not waste your most valued resources; time and money. You should contact an attorney to make sure that you are protecting your rights in your business’s product, name, or symbol. An attorney can conduct a search for potential conflicting trademarks, they can prepare and file the trademark application, and they can respond to all questions and actions from the USPTO.

Protect the identity of your business, its products, and its name. Call The Carroll Law Firm to begin the process of obtaining a trademark.