The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the courts have long struggled with whether or not software should be patentable. While patent laws exist to encourage invention, monopolization of ideas—the building blocks of further invention—would be bad. Continue reading →
Most lawyers know that the value of a business is made up of the value of its assets. Tangible assets like stocks, bonds and real estate have relatively straightforward methods of valuation. By contrast, intangible assets such as patents are much harder to value. Continue reading →
In trademark law, the first user of a trademark is called the “senior user,” and has priority over any later user, called the “junior user.” This rule means that filing a trademark application, if you are the junior user, will not get your mark priority over the senior user. Continue reading →
The internet provides fast access to many things, such as books, concert tickets and movie revues. You can now even file trademark applications using the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s (PTO’s) web site www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm. It’s easy and the site takes credit cards. You can also search trademarks for free at the same site. However, think before you click.
Have you ever written a computer program, song, article, painted a picture, taken a photo, designed unique jewelry, or other work, and wondered if you should copyright it? There is good news: copyright law, unlike patent law, protects a work as soon as it is fixed in a tangible medium. For example, as soon as an artist paints a picture, the picture is protected by copyright. Now you may wonder, why register the work? There are substantial benefits to registration.
Intellectual property has almost limitless value. Microsoft Corporation has a stranglehold on computer operating systems due to its intellectual property. If the Windows™ operating system could be freely copied, Microsoft would be devastated. If the Coca-Cola Company did not obtain and enforce its many trademarks, we might all be drinking Pepsi™. Intellectual property protection promotes growth by limiting competition.
Copyrights cover a work, such as a picture, a painting, a literary work or a video, and trademarks cover a word, slogan, phrase, logo, image, or sound when used in connection with a good or service, such as wine or clothing. Although copyright and trademark can appear to overlap, they are separate and distinct types of protection. Ownership of a copyright on an image does not mean you own that image as a trademark, and ownership of a trademark that uses an image does not mean you own a copyright on the image.