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Roseville Intellectual Property Law Blog

Publication rights: Tips for writers

Once you've written your great American novel, you may be understandably excited to publish it.

Before you do, however, make sure that you understand exactly what rights you're selling when you sign a contract with a publisher. Understanding your rights helps you preserve them -- and it helps you stay out of the kind of legal trouble that can happen when you think you have more rights than you do.

How do employees leak a company's trade secrets?

Most employees care about the company for which they work. As such, they would not typically let sensitive information leak to other parties. However, businesses in California do sometimes suffer the loss of private information, often due to the actions of employees. These losses leave business owners wondering just how their employees let valued trade secrets leave the safety of the business.

In most cases, employees do not intend to leak sensitive business information. The technology-rich business environment of modern times makes the accidental leaking of trade secrets unfortunately easy. Simply sending an email to the wrong party or accidentally sending a group text instead of a private one can compromise your trade secrets.

Man who dubiously says he invented bitcoin is sued for billions

A multibillion-dollar bitcoin lawsuit was filed against Craig Wright, the man who publicly -- yet dubiously -- claims he is Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of bitcoin. Wright filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit but in late December 2018, the federal court presiding over the matter rejected the motion.

Wright served as the chief scientist at Nchain, where he was the business partner of Dave Kleiman, who is now deceased. The Kleiman family is suing Wright for 1,100,000 bitcoin, which is a sum valued at $4.3 billion. The family has accused Wright of stealing both intellectual property and bitcoin from the family.

What damages can I recover in a copyright lawsuit?

The Copyright Act allows the owners of copyright-protected material to pursue financial damages in the event that another party pilfers and profits from their intellectual property. The damages that the copyright holder can pursue in these cases is the actual amount of damages caused by the infringement in addition to the profits earned by the violator of the copyright.

Establishing damages in copyright infringement cases requires evidence, such as:

  • The gross revenues of the accused party
  • The gross revenues of the injured party as well as evidence of past revenue
  • Evidence produced by the infringer of offset expenses that could serve to reduce the damage award

Copyright laws and posting content on the Internet

Let's imagine for a moment that you write the next "Great American Novel," and -- since no publisher has recognized the greatness of your work -- you decide to post your entire novel on the Internet. A year later, you're pleased to find that you have a number of fans who are enjoying your work. However, you're not pleased to find that certain individuals have made a copy of your manuscript, and they're now selling hard copies of your work without your permission.

Is this a copyright violation? Or do the laws not apply since all you did was post the text on the Internet? Fortunately, you're likely protected by copyright laws.

What's involved in securing a trademark?

Establishing a trademark is essential for your brand because it will prevent others from hijacking your name and image, and thereby prevent others from stealing your customer base and hurting your business profits. In order to set up the trademark for your business in a legally appropriate way, you may want to work with a California attorney who is familiar with this area of the law.

Your attorney will take steps to make sure that your chosen trademark -- if you already have one in mind -- is not being used by another business at this time. Here are the appropriate steps you'll need to take in order to secure a trademark:

Protect your trade secrets with the following actions

You've spent decades building a successful business. During this process, you've acquired numerous tricks of the trade, amassed extensive client and customer contact lists, invented new ways of doing things more efficiently and developed proprietary technologies that help you keep your customers happy. These are your "trade secrets," and you need to protect them if you want to stay competitive in your industry.

Following are some strategies to keep your trade secrets from getting out and prevent someone from stealing them, profiting from them or harming your business with them:

Will pot patents hold up in court?

Various states across the nation, including California, have legalized recreational and medicinal marijuana. This has opened the door for companies in the states to grow, manufacture and sell a variety of marijuana-based products. Many companies have even patented different varieties and forms of marijuana and marijuana-based products. The question is: Will pot patents hold up in court?

If pot patents will hold up in court, some companies stand to benefit financially from the patents they currently hold. One Colorado company in particular, United Cannabis Corp., has sued the firm Pure Hemp Collective Inc., for patent infringement relating to a liquid form of highly concentrated CBD oil.

How do I research a patent?

The number of ideas and inventions a single human being can create is limitless. That said, countless ideas have already been created and formally patented with the U.S. Patent Office. No matter how "original" you feel your creation is — and you may have indeed come up with it all by yourself — if your idea has already been patented by someone else, you may be out of luck in terms of profiting from your creation. For this reason, before you apply for a formal patent, you'll need to do some research.

When it comes to researching your prospective patent, the internet is an extremely valuable resource. The U.S. Patent Office offers valuable tools to inventors that allow them to research published patents for any with which their idea conflicts. In addition, you might benefit from looking at existing patents which could help you improve on your own idea without infringing on an already-existing patent. In addition to the U.S. Patent Office website, Google offers a valuable patent search tool of inventors.

How do you transfer a copyright?

If you own a copyright, one thing you may wish to do at some point is transfer it to another entity. Copyrights are personal property, and you have the right to transfer it to others if you wish. Your exclusive rights bind the idea or product to you, but you can transfer the copyright through a contract.

The United States Copyright Office does not handle the transfer of copyrights. While the office does keep track of them, it has no forms to allow you to transfer your copyright to others. Instead, you'll want to work with your attorney to create a copyright contract passing it on to another person. While you cannot transfer the copyright in the U.S. Copyright Office, you can record the transfer, which is something you should do to protect yourself and the other party.

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