Texas Intellectual Property Attorneys
Intellectual property (IP) can be easily compromised in this age of advancing technology and hyper-connectivity. If we are not careful, we can forget the value of our brand and other intellectual assets. Offenses such as patent infringements or trademark violations can create serious stress for you and your business. Our lawyers can help.
Cherry Johnson Siegmund James is an accomplished Texas firm. Our legal community recognizes the hard work of our lawyers, selecting them for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers, Texas Super Lawyers – Rising Stars, and elsewhere. Operating out of Waco, we provide legal services in an array of practice areas, making us a dynamic and well-rounded team.
What is Intellectual Property (IP)?
You may wonder what is considered intellectual property. IP is creations that come from the mind. One has used their intellect to create them. They include the following items:
- Literary work
- Designs and symbols
- Names and images that are used in business
Often, it is essential to protect your intellectual property so that your ideas and brand are not taken advantage of. There are four types of protections you should consider. The intellectual property attorneys with Cherry Johnson Siegmund James can guide you throughout the process.
How Do I Protect My IP?
There are four types of intellectual property that you can protect. It is an especially arduous and expensive process if you do not have legal counsel to aid you through the process. It is up to the rights-owner to fend off those working to infringe on their rights. So, legal counsel is especially important and frequently used during the initial stages.
Business owners should make sure that each member of their company signs an intellectual property agreement. Intellectual property agreements will ensure that it is widely understood that the business owns the employees’ creative work.
When in business, you should assertively display copyright restrictions on your covered products. It should be widely distributed and easily noted.
Four Types of Intellectual Property Recognized By United States Law
The federal government recognizes four types of intellectual property and offers protection for them. They are copyright, trademark, patent, and trade secret. Sometimes, more than one of these protections must be put in place to protect the integrity of the IP truly.
When seeking copyright protection, begin by documenting each stage of your creation. Copyright protection is restricted to exact copies or very close to them. Unless they intentionally permitted a transfer to another party, the creator has sole rights to their work. An example of permitting the rights to it to another party might be when the company an artist works for owns the rights to the work done for them.
Copyright laws protect anything created in a form that can be reproduced or transferred. Creators may register their work with the U.S. Copyright Office so that they can provide evidence that their work is original. But, it is not required. Copyright law does not require written notice or warning.
To ensure the copyright holder has the most robust protection, they should register their work within three months of publishing it. Creators are typically awarded lifetime copyright plus 70 years.
Another type of intellectual property is the trademark. In this case, IP is a sign, design, symbol, or expression that identifies products or services from a distinguishable source. It singles them out so that they are not confused with others.
Individuals, businesses, organizations, or legal entities can own trademarks. Companies frequently use logos to help with brand awareness. We all know the Golden Arches, the Target bullseye, and the Apple Logo, to name a few.
One does not have to have their trademark approved to use it, and repeated use of the design elements over several states could permit you limited protection. But, the federal government trademark approval will give you the right to fight for infringement of your trademark in federal court.
The third type of intellectual property protection available is the patent. Patents are the type of protection that is typically associated with inventions. To be awarded a patent, the intellectual property must meet three standards. They are as follows:
- It must be original. Only novel ideas are awarded patents.
- The idea must be useful.
- It cannot be obvious.
Patents give the patent holder twenty years of exclusive rights to their idea. They are allowed to manufacture or sell their idea. Once twenty years have passed. The idea becomes part of the public domain.
If a patent is infringed upon, the infringing party must provide evidence that the patent should not have been awarded initially. There are three patent types available:
- Utility patents protect the process of how the idea is made or how it operates
- Design patents protect the way a product looks, not the utility aspect
- Plant patents are in place to protect new plant varieties that are not generated from seeds
Provisional patents are a good idea and are good for 12 months. Obtaining a provisional patent may speed up the process of review. Hiring a patent lawyer to navigate this sometimes burdensome process is helpful.
Trade Secret Protection
While it is not possible to register a trade secret, it may still be eligible for IP protection. Trade secrets include all procedural systems and formulas that give a party a competitive edge. The information must, indeed, be a secret, not already available or known.
The expense of a trade secret must be attributed to the company claiming to own it. If the information is discovered fairly and honestly, the rights to the secret are relinquished. To protect a trade secret, the company claiming them must utilize security systems to monitor them for a company to take legal action if they are used without permission. Some ways to safeguard trade secrets are as follows:
- Confidentiality agreements
- Restricting access to the information
- Password protections
- Establish physical and electronic security
If you feel your trade secret has been violated, you have three years to pursue a lawsuit.
A Prepared Firm With Cost-Effective Strategies
Fighting for your stolen patent or otherwise damaged IP can be a complex matter and requires a thorough approach. Our attorneys will work to provide the best possible results by cost-effective means. We have a wide network of resources and professionals from which to draw. What’s more, we will make sure you understand billing-related matters and the finer details of the IP litigation process.
Learn More About How We Can Help
Our extensive knowledge of business law will be an incredible asset in your intellectual property conflict. Call our office at (254) 732-2242 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.