Our Intellectual Property Law practice involves securing and enforcing our clients’ legal rights to inventions, designs, product/service marks, and artistic works. Intellectual Property are considered to be “intangible assets” and The Congress, under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, has the express authority to grant authors and inventors exclusive rights to their “intangible asset” creations. The two governing agencies for Intellectual Property are the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office.
Intellectual Property Protections:
Patents: give inventors the right to use their product in the marketplace, or to profit by transferring that right to someone else. Depending on the type of invention, patent rights are valid for up to 20 years. Qualifying items include new machines, technological improvements, and manufactured goods, including the “look” of a product. Patent protection will be denied if an invention is found to be obvious in design, not useful, or morally offensive.
Trademarks: protect symbols, names, and slogans used to identify goods and services. The purpose is to avoid confusion, deter misleading advertising, and help consumers distinguish one brand from another. Since the goal is to distinguish, generic or purely descriptive marks may not qualify. Rights can potentially last forever, and they are obtained by simply using a mark. While not required, owners can register their marks for additional protection.
Copyrights: apply to writings, music, motion pictures, architecture, and other original intellectual and artistic expressions. Protection is not available for theories or ideas, or anything that has not been captured in a fixed medium. The act of creation itself produces a copyright and unpublished works are still protected. Use of a copyright symbol and date is common, but not mandatory. Most copyrights are valid for the creator’s lifetime, plus 70 years.