Trademark, Copyright, Patent and Unfair Competition Claims
I have recently expanded my practice to include the above areas.
In 1978 I received my second law degree in Trade Regulation from the New York University School of Law which encompasses the practice of trademark, copyright, patent law, and unfair competition litigation.
Since then, I have handled many of these matters. Most recently I was able to settle a complex copyright infringement matter in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York; (Zenova Corporation) involving the protection of a valuable application created by Zenova under the copyright law. The case was settled as the jury was about to be selected in that case.
Below I will give you brief examples of the topics that are included under this category of law as well as the protections provided by the government:
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual Property is any item or the result of an idea or thought that is created in a person's mind which can be produced into application form and marketed and/or used in exchange for monetary compensation. Examples of Intellectual property are literary articles and other books as well as other reading material written by its author, paintings, drawings, sketches and other works created by its artist, any type of designs, such as clothing, a Website or mechanical objects among others including original logos, symbols, and images, or any type of inventions... to name a few. However, an item or idea does not ever have to be sold to be considered the sole Intellectual Property of its creator.
Intellectual Property is protected under the laws of the United States by use of trademarks, copyrights and patents which sanction its creators to gain legal recognition as well as reaping the rewards of monetary profits if they choose to sell their creations or inventions in the public or private market.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark, also identified in spelling as trade-mark, or trade mark, is an identifiable design, sign, logo or other visible article which is granted by the government to recognize products that are sold, or services of a specific business or individual that are rendered and distinguished from all other entities that may be found in the same field of commerce or an entirely dissimilar industry.
To register and recognize ownership of a trademark, a sole individual, representative of a business, or any legal body must register it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Although it can be registered in person or by regular mail, these days, most parties that do so utilize the procedure via the Internet at the following link:
Although it is not mandatory to hire an attorney to register a trademark, it is always recommended to do so to make sure that all aspects of the registration form are completed properly, leaving no question to its validity.
Trademarks are found on packages, labels, as well as company offices and buildings, and if not found on the packaging of a product it may sometimes appear on the product itself.
If someone uses your registered trademark without your written and properly authorized consent, this is known as Trademark Infringement. In a case such as this, a law suit can be filed that if successful, would entitle monetary damages to be paid to the owner of the registered trademark. Monetary payments are calculated based on a loss of revenue that occurred due to the actions of the respondent as well as profits they had received during the time period since the alleged violation took place. Punitive damages may also be assessed and in some cases attorney's fees may be reimbursed for a favorable finding.
What is a Patent?
Like a trademark, a patent is a right granted by the government in relation to the property of its inventor. This right excludes all other individuals from recreating, offering the property for sale, or actually selling the innovative apparatus throughout the United States, as well as importing the invention into the country. A patent as explained below is valid for a limited period of time in exchange for the invention's disclosure to the public at the time the patent is granted.
The actual inventor is the only person that can apply for the product's patent. Generally, a patent lasts for twenty years if it was issued after June 8, 1995 and is not renewable although in certain circumstances it can be extended. A patent can also be issued online with the USPTO by following the steps listed at: http://www.uspto.gov/patents/ebc/index.jsp.
What is a Copyright?
The term Copyright is found in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution added in the late 1700's by the Continental Congress in what would be known as the enumerated powers of the US Congress. It was established to protect original works of composition and invention by legal means set in a palpable form of articulation. A Copyright can cover both a published or unpublished design. It was originally included in the US Constitution to protect those who were the originators of creative works such as literature, art, music, as well as other articles and pieces. These days, digital downloads may also be copyrighted in an attempt to prevent online piracy
A copyright can be registered at the US Copyright Office. It's not mandatory to register your design as a copyright, however if an infringement takes place and you want to bring forward a successful law suit, registration will assist in being the needed proof to win such a case. A copyright is valid for ninety-five years in the case of a published work and one hundred-twenty years from the year of its original realization. To find out more and look into online registration, follow the following link: http://copyright.gov/eco.
Civil law suits relating to Trademarks, Copyrights, and Patent infringement all fall under the topic of unfair competition litigation which is generally defined below:
An Unfair Competition law suit is a type of civil disagreement in a commercial environment between what usually are competitors in which the person bringing suit declares that the charged individual or business entity participated in unfair or unbalanced behavior. Many unfair competition disputes are directed by an explicit specification under the federal trademark statute known as the Lanham Act. These law suits incorporate a dispute over an existing design, published or unpublished text or a symbol and images such as a logo that can be deemed a trademark or may act as one. The Act outlaws many of the matters mentioned above, including trademark infringement and dilution, as well as false advertising.
If you have a problem in protecting your valuable intellectual property or are threatened with a lawsuit for property in which you have a patent, trademark, or copyright, or if you need to register your important intellectual property for the appropriate protection, my law firm will be able to help you.