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Roseville Intellectual Property Law Blog

Self-published romance novels see rising plagiarism

Romance novels are very popular, making billions of dollars every year. More and more often, these novels are getting self-published. Companies like Amazon make it very easy for people to upload their books, covers and other information, giving them the freedom to publish whatever they want -- that fits within the guidelines -- and market it as they see fit.

However, as this writing revolution has moved forward, one key issue that it is now facing is plagiarism. For those who thought that only famous, millionaire authors needed to worry about such things, the world has definitely changed.

When you have to share trade secrets with vendors

Often, the key to keeping trade secrets is simply to restrict the number of people who have access to them in the first place. Some companies are famous for keeping their recipes and formulas confined to one or two individuals. This way, even if an employee wanted to leak the secrets, they'd have no way to do so. It does not take nearly as much loyalty to avoid an issue.

However, this is not always possible if you have to work with outside vendors. They may help at any stage in the process: Providing materials, assembling products, handling sales and distribution, hiring new workers, mixing chemicals, etc. It depends on the specific job being done, the needs of the company and how much of the critical work the company is capable of handling on its own.

Trademark lawsuit targets THC-infused Sour Patch Kids copy

A lawsuit that started in California in the middle of July targets a brand called Stoney Patch. The company makes gummy candies that are infused with THC. While making edible marijuana-based products is nothing new, the lawsuit alleges that the company essentially copied the popular Sour Patch Kids, which are a gummy candy aimed at children.

Pictures of the bags for the two products show that they share much of the same bright color scheme. Even the pictures of the gummies on the outside of the bag appear similar, though the Stoney Patch variety all have a single bloodshot eye, rather than two eyes and a smile.

New bill would create 'small claims' copyright options

A lot of artists worry that their work will get stolen when they post it online. Not only do they worry that consumers will take the work for free, but they also worry that major corporations will simply steal their work and profit off of it, assuming that the artists will not have the money, time or knowledge to go after them in court.

A new bill is moving through the system right now. While it does have its critics, it would attempt to solve the problem by making what would essentially be a small claims court for copyright issues. This would give artists a way to seek compensation on a smaller scale that may make it possible for some of them.

Key online piracy statistics

Online piracy really rose into the public view back when Napster took over the online music scene. The site, which was shut down back in 2001, was still in the relatively early days of the internet, but it showed just how easy it was for people to essentially steal digital files.

That is still true today. People pirate all sorts of files, including music files. However, the rise of other types of digital media -- TV shows, books, movies, etc -- means there are more targets now than there ever have been before. When you combine that with faster internet speeds, it makes piracy even more common. It used to take hours to download one album of music, but the internet is now fast enough for most people to stream entire shows in real time.

Creating employee loyalty is easier than you think

When you want to protect your trade secrets, you can do it through legal means, such as having your employees sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). However, what you really want are loyal employees who won't try to sell out your company to the competition. They'll stay in their current positions instead of moving on and they will keep your trade secrets safe.

How do you make sure that your employees are loyal to your company? There are a few steps you can take:

  1. Make sure that you pay them fairly. If you underpay them or try to pay them as little as possible to maximize your own profits, while you have a right to do so, you have to understand that they'll know what you're doing and they'll feel no loyalty to you or the company.
  2. Give the employees positions of power and control. Delegate some of the tasks you would normally take on. The goal is to make the employees feel invested in the company and the mission. This also shows that you trust them, and it makes them feel like part of the team.
  3. Get rid of the employees who do not fit your company culture. You especially want to look for employees who are not kind to their fellow workers. Even if they technically are proficient at their jobs, they create a toxic work atmosphere. Weed them out as soon as you can.

Why branding really matters

Your company is more than the people you employ or the goods and services that you offer. It's all based around your brand. For better or worse, the type of branding that you do defines the business and can determine how much success you have.

Strong, unique branding is important for many reasons, including the following:

  • It reflects your company culture.
  • It changes the way that potential customers perceive your company.
  • It increases awareness of your goods and services.
  • It can literally create sales, drive new business and influence growth.
  • It sets you apart from the competition.
  • It makes your company far more memorable to those who interact with it in some way, from buying a product to seeing a commercial.
  • It helps to clarify why you stand apart from the crowd and what you offer that the competition does not.
  • It helps people identify with your company and want to do business with you.

Chinese tech company Huawei loses case over trade secrets

A tech start-up from California's Silicon Valley accused a tech giant in China, Huawei, of stealing trade secrets from them. A court found that the Chinese company did steal those secrets.

However, in an interesting twist, the jury also claimed that there was no real financial damage to the start-up or gain for Huawei as a result of that intellectual property theft. As such, though the start-up was shown to be correct in their claims, they were not awarded any financial damages.

Key patent application tips

Applying for a patent may not be something you do often, but it's absolutely crucial for you to protect your invention. If you're thinking of starting a company based around that invention, the patent also protects your intellectual property so that you can profit off of it. This may give your new company much of its initial value. You do not want to make mistakes.

As such, here are a few key tips to use when applying for the patent:

  • Get it right the first time. You can't change the description after you file the application. Make sure nothing is misleading or incorrect. Do not leave anything out.
  • Check over the little details. Don't allow something to slip through just because you're too close to the process to notice. Work with your business partners to get a fresh pair of eyes on it.
  • Create a checklist. It may help you to go over the application with specific focus on every step on the list.
  • Take your time. Yes, you want to do this quickly because you know how important it is to get that patent on file, but do not rush so much that you make mistakes.
  • Use professional drawings to supplement your descriptions. These can help give a complete accounting of what your invention is and how it will be made. The drawings also force you to think about the little details in a new way, which can help you find mistakes or reconsider things that you forgot.

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?

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