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Roseville Intellectual Property Law Blog

Does Comic Con violate the Comic-Con trademark?

Here at Costello Law Corporation, we advise people and businesses about legal issues related to trademarks, including whether the usage of a brand likely violates a pre-existing mark. We also represent parties in disputes about trademark violations in related litigation.

An interesting San Diego trademark case just survived dueling motions for summary judgment and is scheduled for a November 28 trial, according to Ars Techica. The dispute concerns the San Diego Comic Convention's Comic-Con and Dan Farr Productions' Salt Lake Comic Con.

Intellectual property issues in tech startups

Aside from being huge and successful businesses, what do Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple have in common? They are just a few of the many companies that started in a humble garage. The founders of these companies did not let a lack of funds or property get in their way. We are betting that many of the current tech startups in California have founders that feel the same way.

Ideas are wonderful and can lead to many great things, but the time to start protecting intellectual property is when the first spark of an idea flames into life. If you are working hard on your tech startup, the last thing you want to think about is intellectual property litigation. However, you also need to know that it can happen even in the early stages of building a company.

Why the fuss over assigning a drug patent to a tribe?

Patent law is not one of those areas of practice that has garnered a great deal of media attention over the centuries. That's changed a lot in recent decades. Many readers are surely familiar with the long-running battle between Apple and Samsung over patents related to their respective smartphones.

Another likely factor in elevating patent disputes into the limelight happened in 2011 when Congress passed the America Invents Act. With its enactment, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board was created - a forum meant to make it easier, faster and less expensive to resolve patent claims seeking to invalidate existing exclusivity rights. Many companies, especially in the tech sector, like the law. Many patent holders do not, and the split in opinions is sparking some interesting fireworks.

Protect your trade secrets or prepare for litigation

Protecting your company's trade secrets could be the difference between being a one-of-a-kind business or one with many copy cats. Trade secrets can be anything from a method to make a product to a recipe that has been passed down for generations. Protecting that trade secret is vital to the company's continued success.

The Uniform Trade Secrets Act has been adopted by most states. This act protects and defines trade secrets. Generally speaking, a trade secret is defined as an asset that has independent economic value because it is not generally known and can be kept a secret. Essentially, almost any information that gives your company a competitive edge could be considered to be a trade secret.

Do I need legal assistance when patenting an invention?

You could probably patent your invention without legal representation, but the real question is should you? On the surface, patent law in California seems quite simple, but any number of subtle or not-so-subtle mistakes could derail all of your efforts.

A reasonable solution is to work with a patent law attorney. Doing so relieves you of a huge amount of the "legwork" involved in acquiring a patent. It also has the added advantage of ensuring you have made no mistakes in your attempts to protect your invention.

California burger trademark wars: In-N-Out vs. Smashburger

To residents of California, the words "Double-Double and Triple Triple can only mean one thing: You're eating at an In-N-Out Burger fast food restaurant. A new burger created by rival restaurant, Smashburger, may give In-N-Out a run for its money. Smashburger introduced the "Triple Double" sandwich last month but In-N-Out is not pleased with the name of the new burger.

In-N-Out Burger is challenging the name Smashburger has chosen for its newest sandwich under trademark law by filing an infringement lawsuit. The long-standing fast food chain says that Smashburger's "Triple Double" burger may confuse and mislead consumers because of its similarity to trademarked "Double-Double" and "Triple Triple" burgers offered by In-N-Out. As a result, this would cause harm to In-N-Out Burger because consumers may believe the "Triple Double" is licensed by, or connected to, the In-N-Out chain.

Understanding fair use under copyright law

To a layperson that owns intellectual property or operates a business in California, copyright law seems extremely complex. These people want to protect their intellectual property, but often have a poor understanding of the ins and outs of copyright law and the fair use doctrine. The laws surrounding intellectual property do help protect ideas, products and processes, but that does not necessarily mean that no one can use your property.

Under the fair use doctrine, people can legally use protected intellectual property in a limited way. Further, they do not have to acquire your permission or seek a license to do so. Because this area of copyright law is flexible and difficult to define, courts typically make decisions about the proper execution of the fair use doctrine on a case-by-case basis. They use four factors to make a determination. These are:

  • The nature of the work: For example, creative works like fiction and images typically receive greater protections than factual works.
  • How the work is used: For example, if the work was changed to form a new expression, its use may be considered fair. In addition, if the work was used to educate, its use may also be fair.
  • Changes in the work's value or marketability: For example, if someone sampled part of your work and the court thinks it will cause you to lose money, it may rule that the use was not fair.
  • The amount and importance of the copied work: To remain within the realm of fair use, a person cannot copy important parts of the work or large segments of the work.

What does the term trade secret really mean?

The intellectual property arena comes with a great deal of terminology such as patents, copyrights, infringement and yes, trade secrets. This can be confusing to someone just getting started. The term "trade secrets" in particular has a lot of room for self-interpretation. It is important for those interested in protecting their intellectual property in California to find out just what this term means.

By their nature, trade secrets exist under a broad definition umbrella. Perhaps the best way to look at it is as any "confidential business information which provides a competitive edge." Just about anything could be considered a trade secret if it brings you value because not many other people know about it. Examples of trade secrets include the following.

  • Recipes, ingredient lists or formulas
  • Software programs
  • Business plans and methods
  • Blue prints and drawings
  • Manufacturing processes and techniques
  • Databases
  • Marketing and advertising strategies
  • Designs and patterns

Kim Kardashian named in patent infringement lawsuit

The advanced technological environment of today is a prime venue for intellectual property infringement. Sometimes, intellectual property and patent infringement occur by accident and other times, it is perhaps done knowingly. Whatever the case, victims of infringement involving patents in California and elsewhere are well within their rights to take legal action in the realm of patent law.

SnapLight, a company that brings technology to cellphones, has filed a lawsuit against LuMee, another company with a strikingly similar product. The suit revolves around cellphone cases that provide an integrated light source to help users achieve "perfect selfie" images.

An all-inclusive approach to protecting intellectual property

If you think about it, everything in the entire world outside of nature started with an idea. A person, or perhaps persons, thought it up and brought it into being. A long time ago, people didn't worry very much about protecting intellectual property even though it was quite valuable. The people who came up with brilliant inventions and processes over millennia were likely just trying to improve their lives and survive.

It is much different in today's world. We already have the things we need to survive, but many people are still trying to improve upon our quality of life by bringing their ideas to fruition. Naturally, these concepts have become valuable in ways beyond the improvements they offer. Intellectual property that leads to inventions or otherwise adds value to the world is now financially valuable as well. This means other people may attempt to steal these ideas and inventions and claim them for their own.

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To protect your valuable idea, contact our lawyers at Costello Law Corporation to set up an initial consultation. We are ready to assist you in any intellectual property issue.

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Costello Law Corporation

Costello Law Corporation
2267 Lava Ridge Court
Suite 210
Roseville, CA 95661

Phone: 916-520-3360
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