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Roseville Intellectual Property Law Blog

Do's and don'ts of handling online copyright disputes

The Internet is the hardest type of media to police. It sometimes appears that Internet users believe all data is free for the taking. But just because something is on the Internet does not mean it is exempt from copyright or plagiarism laws.

If you have registered copyrights and trademarks and find that someone else has used them on the Internet, your first reaction might be anger, shock or surprise. What should you do? You want to handle the situation in the best way possible. Here are some do's and don'ts to resolve the situation:

  • Don't react with your emotions. A knee-jerk reaction can only make the dispute harder to resolve.
  • Do not send demanding or confrontational communication by email or post it on social media sites. Whatever you say may be reposted, cause an online battle or make your claims harder to defend later.
  • Gather evidence of the infringement, such as photographing or saving a screenshot of the Internet page. The copyright infraction may be removed from the Internet as soon as any action is taken, leaving you with no proof that anyone violated your rights.
  • Make sure you are the actual owner of the copyright and that you haven't granted a license to anyone else for use.
  • Consider the possibility of turning the infringement into a profit. The alleged infringing party may consider paying for rights to limited use of your intellectual property. A partnership might even be an option.
  • Most importantly, learn all you can about your legal position before taking any action.

Is someone using your trademark?

If you think someone is using your trademark, you will want to seek a trademark attorney, but before you do, you should make sure a trademark infringement is actually occurring. Remember, infringement of a trademark happens when someone else uses the same trademark for competing goods and services, and customers are likely to confuse their business with yours.

Also, unless your trademark is well-known across the country, location will be important to look at. If someone uses your trademark for a similar business or product two states over, it is unlikely to confuse customers. Also make sure they are using an identical name or mark.

Protecting intellectual property

Have you got good idea for a new product, or have you invented a new marketable gadget? Maybe you have written a song or a book. Whatever your intellectual property is, you need to decide if it is going to need protection. If it is going to be a marketable item, you will more than likely want to protect it from the possibility of someone else using it to make money and leaving you in the cold.

If you are unsure if your idea or property is worth protecting, you should seek legal advice from an attorney who is experienced in intellectual property protection. He or she will be able to assess your intellectual property and advise you whether or not it has marketable value worth protecting. If it does, they will know the best way to protect it.

Patents 101

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)issues an inventor of a product proprietary rights to the design and/or idea of that invention. A patent is intellectual property. It is not a copyright, trademark or a service mark.

U.S. patents are usually good for a 20-year term. The beginning date is based on the application date for the patent. In some cases, the 20-year term can be extended or adjustments made.

Cat wins copyright suit with huge payout

Imagine if your pet could bring in a steady paycheck for you, let alone a $710,000 lump sum payout, just for looking grumpy! Well, that is just what one "grumpy-looking" cat named Tardar Sauce has going for it.

The feline, first posted on Reddit (a social website) in 2012, along with funny captions, soon became famous for its unique expression. The cat has what is known as feline dwarfism along with an underbite giving it a sad and grumpy-looking scowl.

Uniform Trade Secrets Act in a nutshell

Trade secrets have commercial value. Laws regarding trade secrets can be abstruse, often needing clarification. That is why there is a Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), which attempts to clarify the rights for those with trade secrets they wish to protect.

Trade secrets may come in many forms. They may be a recipe for a scrumptious marketable sauce, a business method, a chemical process or a technology for a new electronic device. Any knowledge or information that has economic value — and is not generally known or attainable by others — can be considered a trade secret.

Questions about common law trademarks

You have heard the term "common law marriage," but have you heard of a "common law trademark?" In a common law marriage, two people consider themselves married although they haven't gone through the legality of registering their marriage. It is the same with a common law trademark; a trademark is being used that has not yet been registered.

Also, just as the law recognizes common law marriages in some states, a common law trademark is recognized. Unfortunately, though, if it is not registered, someone else may accidentally or intentionally embark upon the use of the same mark. This results in having to prove who first put the trademark into use.

Apple has filed for a new patent

Apple already has a wide market on its Apple products. Now it is expanding those services with a new patent regarding wireless charging. This new patent expands on the wireless power that was developed and patented by Energous.

Energous was just recently granted their certification from the U. S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for their wireless technology. Now Apple has two applications submitted for patents; one for technology for long-range wireless charging, and the other to control the order in which devices are charged.

Trade secret quandary at Uber

The Uber quandary seems to get thicker and thicker as the story and evidence keeps unraveling. It first made news when Waymo, a sister company of Google, filed a suit against Uber claiming that they stole trade secrets relating to their lidar sensors for self-driving cars. Allegedly, a former employee downloaded thousands of files before leaving their company and sold the information to Uber for $680 million.

Of course, Uber denied the allegations, and the former employee of Waymo pleaded his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, refusing to testify. A jury trial was set to begin in December, but then new evidence came to light, postponing that trial to Feb. 5, 2018.

What you need to know about trademark registration

When you start a new business to sell goods or services, how are you going to market those goods? Do you need a trademark or service mark? You do if you want your products or services to be distinguished from others and recognized by clients.

If your business involves products or goods, you need a trademark. If it involves services you will be providing, you need a service mark. You can make your trademark or service mark whatever you want as long as it is not already in use by another individual or entity. It can be a picture, a logo, a symbol or letters.

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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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