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Intellectual Property is a fast-growing area of the law but has a long and storied history. Paul & Paul is ingrained in the fabric of that history throughout the Philadelphia area. Our firm approaches intellectual property law with the depth, knowledge, and experience you need — protecting the intellectual property assets of all clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to individual inventors.

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By Alex Sluzas 15 Dec, 2017

What Are the Different Types of Trademarks?

trademark  or service mark gives specific identity to your business. The main purpose of a mark is to help recognize the origin of goods or services offered by a company. Thus, a mark, either trade or service specifies the source of origin.

There are specific and restricted rights attached to a registered mark. The trademark rights usually take place due to the use of, or for maintaining special rights over the mark used in the commercials. It also signifies that there is not any trademark objection as such.


KNOWING TRADEMARKS

A trademark is a brand identity and brand name. It is any name, symbol, word or device, a combination of a few or all of the above used in a business to give it a specific identity.

A trademark helps to distinguish the products of one seller or manufacturer from products sold by other seller or manufacturer. Trademark ideally indicates the source and origin of the products.

SERVICE MARK

A service mark is any name, symbol, word or device, or a combination of few or all of the above to distinguish the services of one provider from another. Service mark indicates the source and origin of the services. For example, PNC bank uses a colorful logo called a service mark to help consumers identify the bank.  

COLLECTIVE MARK

A collective mark is the service mark or trademark used by the members of an association, a cooperative or any other collective group. A collective mark in the business signifies the membership in an association, a union or some other organization.

TRADE NAMES

A trade name may either be an assumed name or the actual name under which the business functions.

TRADE DRESS

A trade dress includes all aspects that constitute the complete image of a product. The different aspects such as the packaging, configuration, size, shape, and color of a product are collectively called a trade dress. A trade dress is essentially concerned with the marketing and promotional factors of a good or service.


What is trademark infringement?

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO),  trademark infringement  is the illegal or unauthorized use of a trade or service mark.

The USPTO is a fee-funded organization of the United States Department of Commerce. It is established to grant patents and to register trademarks and service marks for small and large business across the US.

If a commercial establishment uses a trademark that is likely to create confusion or misunderstanding about the origin of the goods it could be termed as infringement. Trademark used by commercial companies to deceive others would also constitute as trademark infringement.

The trademark owner may take  legal action  against anyone involved in trademark infringement. However, registration of the trademark is a prerequisite by most countries before any legal action can be taken. Countries like the United States, Canada, and other countries offer the common law trademark rights to the commercials.

This denotes that legal action can be pursued even against the unauthorized use of the unregistered trademark. However, considerably less legal protection is available to the unregistered trademark owners than to the registered ones.

You may choose to contact an experienced  trademark attorney  if your trademark, whether registered or unregistered, is being misused by anyone. A trademark lawyer will guide the holder with best available options in situations of trademark infringement. Also, the attorney is able to evaluate the strength and validity of trademark infringement claims made by the owner.


What is trademark law?

The trademark owner invests a considerable amount of time and money in offering a product or service to the consumer. Thus, the owner must be allowed to protect their investment by discouraging others to use the trademark illegally and reap the benefit of the owner’s investment. The significance of the trademark is decided by the goodwill and strength of the organization. Primarily, the consumers determine the value of the trademark.

Trademark laws are offered by the USPTO. It prevents unfair competition by adopting a test on consumer’s confusion. And, thus, the trademark law provides rights and solutions to the holder of the trademark.

Trademark laws are administered by the federal and the state law. Though federal law offers the main and a comprehensive resource of trademark protection, the actions of the state common law are still in function.


Contact a Trademark Lawyer Today

If you are looking for a trademark lawyer, contact us at the offices of Paul & Paul to get your questions answered. Call our offices at 866-975-7231 for a consultation today.
By Alex Sluzas 11 Dec, 2017

Patent Law: 5 of the Craziest Inventions That Have Ever Been Patented

There are a ton of inventions that make our day to day life easy. Most of them we don’t even give a second thought as it has become so ingrained in our lifestyle. The light bulb invented by Thomas Edison or the first automobile invented by Karl Benz, which ushered in a new age of transportation hardly seem “wow” worthy anymore. Then there are more complicated inventions that have helped man land on the moon! And most invention patents have made our civilization progress by leaps and bounds.

There are some inventions that are surely out of the box, to say the least. And it’s just not unconventional people but some well-known organizations that have tread this path. If you have a groundbreaking idea and want it secured in your name, it’s best to hire the services of a  patent attorney  to help you out with the process.

Now for some fun stuff, here is a list of some of the strangest patent applications ever.

Nokia’s Vibrating Tattoo: Do you have your phone on vibrate when you’re in a meeting or when you are in the movies? Guess what, people at Nokia didn’t think that was enough. They went a step further and filed a patent for a tattoo that would vibrate when the phone rang. Never heard of it making any vibrations in the market.

The High Fiving Machine: Not sure what you think of it, but someone filed a patent for an artificial arm that would help perk up your mood if no one else is willing. According to the patent application, you need to set this up on a table or fix it to the wall, and it will also improve your hand-eye coordination in addition to giving you a hand for high-fives whenever you need.

Diaper Alarm: Raising a kid is no joke. Especially the sleepless nights and changing diapers part. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you knew whenever your baby wet his or her diapers, without having to reach inside to check? The diaper alarm to the rescue! This detachable device was patented in 1980 and can be fixed onto the diaper. When wet the baby’s skin will conduct a wee bit of electricity and have lights blinking and an alarm beeping. Any takers?

Golf Wand: Do you want to perfect your golf stance, swing and get some practice to perfect your shots? If you’ve always imagined of going pro but didn’t have the time or the means to do it, the golf wand can help. The ball on the end of the wand which is attached to your torso will help you perfect the backswing. The ball should be pointed in the direction of your shot. The wand should line up between the golf ball and your eyes. All Tiger Woods wannabes could actually make their dream come true with the help of this invention.

Earless Eyewear (EE): If the stems of eyeglasses bother you when you wear them over the ear, then this invention can surely help. It consists of two magnets that you can stick to the sides of your temples. Now you can place your specially made eyeglasses with metallic ends on these temple magnets which will hold them in place. No more irritating stems rubbing on your ears. You can easily take them off with a slight pull, and the glasses come right off from the magnets.


We never knew choosing one absurd invention over the other could be so challenging. A lot of great ideas often go to waste because inventors either talk themselves out of it or think the idea isn’t good enough. And even if you have a great idea you could  file the patent  yourself without using the services of a patent attorney.

However, hiring a patent lawyer makes sure you’re thoroughly covered. They can make sure of its usefulness and innovativeness. They can also help you with the  USPTO patent examiners  and filing a provisional patent application. And not every lawyer can file a patent.

Doing it yourself will mean you have to manage a lot of things in addition to your technical expertise. For example, you’ll have to  go through patents  to find out if there’s already something similar, draft a clear documentation and also meet deadlines. Time spent on all of these is precious time you could be investing in furthering your invention or polishing it. It’s better to delegate your patent filing process to an experienced patent attorney and save you all the headache.


Contact a Patent Lawyer Today

If you need help filing a patent, contact  Paul & Paul  to get in touch with an experienced patent attorney.  Call  our office at 866-975-7231 for a consultation today.


By Alex Sluzas 08 Dec, 2017

My name is Joe. My friend, Mark, has recently started a customized gift business. His logo looks perfect and his gift ideas are just amazingly clever. I love them. Especially because I came up with them three years back.

Yes, I run a customized gift business and last month Mark started his own company based on the same business model. The disappointing part is that he not only copied my concept, but he also stole my logo, my ideas, and my identity. Now I need better friends and an  unfair competition lawyer !


If you are lucky enough not to have friends like Mark, let me explain to you what unfair competition is.

Unfair or disloyal competition refers to the deceitful practice of using information of another business to your advantage, causing financial loss to the other businesses or customers. In a recent conversation with my attorney, I discovered that there are several  components  that go into an unfair competition case.

Let’s take a look at these components:

Trademark Infringement – It refers to the use of the trademark of a company without the permission of its owner. Mark used an almost identical trademark without my knowledge or consent and thus his act comes under unfair competition. Some acts of trademark infringement like making a duplicate copy of a product such as watches, jewelry, and handbags can be considered criminal.

Trade Defamation - If someone misrepresents his competitor by giving wrong information about the components and quality of the competitor’s products, the person can be charged with trade defamation. For example, if someone advertises his products using a comparative pricing chart in which prices of the competitor’s products are wrong. Such an act can be considered motivated to mislead the clients.

Misappropriation of business trade secret – Mark used the confidential information that I shared with him to his advantage. He replicated my marketing strategy, gift ideas, sales methods. He also used my client listing to send promotional mailers to my existing clients. All these acts fall under the category of misappropriation.

Antitrust infringement – This includes unfair practices like predatory pricing – keeping the price of your products so low that the competitor cannot survive and go out of the market.

Tortious interference - It refers to a situation in which one person deliberately harms someone’s business dealing with a third party, causing financial loss to the business. For example, if a person obstructs someone’s work by hampering a company’s ability to fulfill its contract. Such obstruction falls under unfair competition.

How to approach an unfair competition case?

As trademark and copyright infringement claims do not always cover all of the deceptive actions of the infringer, unfair competition claims are generally categorized under trademark infringement and copyright infringement lawsuits. Thus, unfair competition law seeks to prohibit those unfair actions that are usually excluded from the standard intellectual property, contract, or commercial law.

To deal with such infringement, the owner of the trademark needs to  initiate civil or commercial proceedings . The dispute between two business entities is raised in commercial proceedings, whereas disputes in which at least one of the parties is non-commercial are raised in civil proceedings.  

To recover the loss due to unfair competition, plaintiff can seek the following:

1.    Permanent injunction to stop unfair competition practices.

2.    Compensation for the financial loss – In case of a financial loss because of unfair competition, the plaintiff can ask for damage under (1) Provision 1, 2, or 3 for Calculating Damages (Remedy under Unfair Competition Prevention Law Article 5).

3.    Reputation recovery steps -- In  case the unfair competition has adversely impacted the reputation of your business, you can ask the court to issue measures such an announcement of apology (Unfair Competition Prevention Law Article 7) to recover your reputation.

4.    Restitution of Unjust Enrichment- If you feel that the infringer has enriched by wrongful acts, which have been harmful to your business, you can ask for restitution of unjust enrichment.

5.    Penalty for wrongdoing – As per  Unfair Competition Prevention Law 15 U.S. Code § 45 , “the Commission may commence a civil action to recover a civil penalty in a district court of the United States against any person, partnership, or corporation which violates any rule under this subchapter respecting unfair or deceptive acts or practices (other than an interpretive rule or a rule violation of which the Commission has provided is not an unfair or deceptive act or practice in violation of subsection (a)(1)) with actual knowledge or knowledge fairly implied on the basis of objective circumstances that such act is unfair or deceptive and is prohibited by such rule. In such action, such person, partnership, or corporation shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation.”

If you've been a victim of unfair competition, you will require a team of seasoned lawyers by your side to bring the perpetrator to justice. The evidence and the reasoning to back your case should be airtight for you to have a chance to win. Give the offices of  Paul & Paul  a call at 866-975-7231 to find out how we can help you get what you rightly deserve.


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