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Roseville Intellectual Property Law Blog

Can you transfer a copyright?

Say you create some sort of artistic work, like a novel or a book of poems, and then you decide that you do not want to have full control of it anymore. Perhaps someone else came up to you and made an offer to buy it if they would then be allowed to use it and sell it.

You want to take that offer, but you already copyrighted the work in your own name. What can you do to make it legal for someone else to use it and profit off of it?

I have been accused of patent infringement, now what?

Don’t panic, patent infringement is more common than you may realize. The first thing you should do is assess the validity of the accusation. Did your company use the exact same process or equipment? Does the patent holder’s invention work the same way yours does? If your machine parts or process differs from the patent holders, your invention will not be considered infringing.

It is possible that your product is a direct infringement on the patent. Whether or not you knew a patent existed, you can be sued for using the inventor’s process and design.

Tips for creating the perfect brand logo

You need a great logo when you launch your company. It gives you instant branding power. People will begin to recognize your company and your products at a glance. A strong logo can help you create more brand awareness and connects customers with your company.

But how do you create a perfect logo that really fits with your company? Here are a few tips that can help:

  • Don't rush it. Take all the time that you need. Don't settle on the first design just because you're eager to get it done.
  • Make sure it really connects to your brand. It has to communicate something fundamental to the customer. It's more than just finding something that is aesthetically pleasing.
  • Figure out what your company values the most. Your logo needs to, in some way, represent those values. Customers should understand what you stand for without even reading your mission statement.
  • Make sure no one else is using it. You don't want a logo that is too close to the competition, or it may violate their rights and it also just gets confusing for consumers.
  • Pick the right color scheme. Ideally, you want an overall company-wide color scheme. You can use it in packaging, uniforms, and much more. Once you figure out what it is, make your logo match.
  • Consider the impact of specific colors. Some research shows that about 90% of people make a quick assessment of a service, product or brand based on the colors that they choose. Your logo has an instant impact.

Steps you can consider when you find plagiarized work

You spent years or even decades working on your art. Maybe you write novels, make videos or paint pictures. Maybe you're a photographer or a graphic artist. Exactly what you do is not important; the key is that you invested a lot of your time, energy and talent into that work.

It's also yours alone. It's copyrighted, and no one can use it without your permission. This is something you made, and no one has the right to use it or profit off of it other than you.

How far would you go to protect a trade secret?

Trade secrets are incredibly important. Your whole business may be built on one product or idea. The fact that you alone have the knowledge of how to create that product is what gives your company its strength. It gives you an edge. It sets you apart from other companies that are trying to enter the same space.

This isn't to say that advertising and branding don't matter. They do. But the main reason for your sales numbers is that your product is unique and consumers can't get it somewhere else. They have to get it from you.

Why would you trademark a sound?

Trademark laws exist to help you protect things that are important to your business. Often they identify that business to your potential customers. That's why you trademark a logo, for instance. You want customers to instantly connect it with your brand, and you do not want another company to use it and benefit from your reputation.

That's the same reason you may want to trademark a sound. It can also be strongly connected to your brand. While the most common example is a short jingle that plays during a radio commercial or a television commercial, it could be even simpler than that. Many companies have trademarked short snippets of sound that they have created.

What's the difference between trademarks, patents and copyrights?

There are many different ways to protect intellectual property. Three of the most common are patents, trademarks and copyrights.

People often use these terms interchangeably, as if they all refer to the same thing, but that is a common misconception. They are actually all very different, and they focus on different types of protections. You need to know how they work to know which one you need to use.

Protecting ideas and intellectual property

Ideas are the key to innovation and success in most industries. Everything starts with an idea: the computer, the smartphone, the social media platform. They all started with an idea that someone brought to life.

Even when things are just building blocks or changing something that already exists, they have their basis in groundbreaking ideas. Not everything is a brand-new invention. Sometimes, it's just a brand new way of thinking about something that's already in use. It changes the game for consumers and companies alike.

6 things you cannot patent

A patent is a very useful tool to protect inventions and other such developments. It ensures that the person who actually made that development has a right to it and cannot see their ideas stolen by a third party for profit when that third party did none of the work to create it in the first place. In this sense, patents are a way to drive innovation in the United States. For many companies, most of their value actually comes from the patents they hold.

That said, you cannot patent everything. Per the U.S. government, here are six things you cannot patent:

  1. A law of nature
  2. An abstract idea
  3. Physical phenomena
  4. An invention that is not useful
  5. An invention that is "offensive to public morality"
  6. A work that is artistic, dramatic, musical or literary

What is a 'poor man's copyright?'

Have you heard someone say that they took out a "poor man's copyright?" Have you wondered exactly what they meant and whether or not it is a good idea?

This expression typically refers to the act of mailing yourself something to prove when you created it. For instance, maybe you wrote a novel. You could print off the rough draft at work, pack it into an envelope and mail it to your house. When you get home, you simply take that package -- without opening it -- and put it in your safe.

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