Sacramento residents are doubtless familiar with the seemingly constant battles in courts over technology issues. Companies headquartered in the Silicon Valley frequently have to defend themselves against claims of copyright infringement and patent violations -- or are making claims against other companies for those reasons.
When a California company is researching, developing and manufacturing a product, there are a number of aspects of that process that are and should remain confidential. These are known as trade secrets, and can encompass everything from the physical appearance of a product to the manufacturing processes involved in creating the final product. A trade secret is also defined by the fact that a company chooses to hide that information from the public or other parties, and by the ability of a competitor to profit from the discovery of said secrets.
A California writer has challenged the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and the author of a series of books and stories featuring the detective. At issue was Doyle's consulting detective as intellectual property and whether the copyright running out of most of the stories featuring the character meant that Holmes could be considered as being in the public domain. If so, writers and other content creators would be able to make new adventures for the resident of 221B Baker Street without paying royalties; if not, Doyle's descendants would legally have to be paid for using the character through 2022.
A few months back, we wrote on our Sacramento intellectual property blog about the Washington Redskins football team and its efforts to preserve the club's name as a trademark. We mentioned that a few years ago, a computer software firm was turned down by the patent and trademark office to use "Redskins" as a trademark for its name. Now, another case has come before the government requesting to trademark "Redskins" -- and, once again, the answer was no.