What is a Patent, When Do You Need One, and How Do You File?

  • By Alex Sluzas
  • 05 Dec, 2017

A patent is the authority granted by the federal government to the inventor to sell or use it for a profitable purpose for a period of time.

What is a Patent, When Do You Need One, and How Do You File for One?

Ever had a path-breaking idea that you think you could change the world? Even though a lot of people have ideas, they never try to make it work or brush it off. You never know you could be making millions if you get your invention patented and it took off. Now, first-time inventors could rightly be confused with the jargon, definition, and processes to file a patent. Here’s a rundown of the what and how about patents.

What is a patent?

A patent is the authority granted by the federal government to an inventor to sell or use an invention for a profitable purpose for a period of time, normally between 14 to 20 years. During this time no one else can use it for their own profit without receiving prior permission and paying royalty fees.

If you own a patent, you can legally stop another person from using it. This encourages people to create useful inventions for the betterment of the society. The word "patent" is derived from the Latin word patere meaning “ to lay open.”

Patents are territorial, meaning for the same invention you would have to file a patent application in every country you want your patent protected. US patents are only protected in the United States.

What are the different types of patents?

There are primarily three main types of patents. They are as follows:

  • Design patents: Rights to industrial designs are called design patents. Design patent applications are not very common and are relatively cheaper than utility patent protection. Design patents protect the appearance, though they don’t protect functional features.
  • Utility patents: Utility patents are sometimes called petty or innovation patents. These can be further subdivided into software, biological, business and chemical patents. They are the most common type of patent application in the United States. They are more expensive to file but provide better protection.
  • Plant patents: These patents are granted to the inventor of new plant species either by a hybrid method or through grafting or genetically modifying.

Does my invention qualify?

The three main criteria for having your patent application accepted are that it has to be novel, nonobvious and have some utility. They shouldn’t be in parts or a whole similar to previous patents or inventions. A patent also cannot be sold or used at least a year prior to when the patent application is being made.

Now, just because you invented it, doesn’t necessarily mean you can file a patent application. For example, if you were employed when you invented the patent, though it would be in your name, the rights to the patent would most probably be held by your employer. These should be spelled out in your terms of employment. If you did try to go around and use or sell the invention, your employer could bring a case against you for a breach of contract.

There are some areas where you can’t file for a patent. According to US laws, there are no patents offered for the following:
  • Laws of nature
  • Physical phenomenon
  • Non-useful objects
  • Abstract Ideas
  • Drugs
  • Jewelry
  • Furniture Design

If your idea touches each of these patent basics listed earlier, then you stand a good chance of your patent application being approved. Although going it all alone isn’t impossible, it’s a good idea to avail the services of a patent attorney. You will save yourself a lot of digging around, paperwork and hassles with an experienced team of patent lawyers .


How to file a patent?

Unlike copyright, that’s automatically entitled to the owner; an inventor has to apply for a patent to have it under his name and have it protected.

The first step is to file a patent application to the USPTO with an application fee. This fee will vary depending on the kind of patent you’re applying for. There will be additional fees required for search, examination, and issuance.

There are various factors that determine how long it will take to receive your first letter. You can check out estimated times on this link. There are options available to expedite your patent examination.

Without considerable knowledge of patent laws, it’s very easy to get embroiled. Most inventors use the services of a patent attorney. Proper filing of documents so that your patent application moves through the examination process and you receive your decision quicker is one of the many advantages of having legal representation for your patent.

If you are looking for a patent lawyer, contact the offices of Paul & Paul by calling 866-975-7231 for a consultation.
By Alex Sluzas 15 Jan, 2018

How to Safeguard Your Brand Against Intellectual Property Theft


You will be surprised to know how easy it is to steal or copy information about your business. This is especially true if you have an online business.

Your logos, designs, content, trademarks, ideas and all that make up for intellectual property are at risk if you do not find ways to protect them. You can suffer huge financial losses if these are copied and used by someone else in the form of lost revenue and potential customers. Hence it is important to protect your  intellectual property  to safeguard your business.


Here is what you can do to keep your business safe from thieves and potential impostors:


Trademark: All your musical compilations, artistic works, designs, literature, images, and software which gives you that edge in your business and which makes you stand out from your competitors needs protection.

Most of your written material is covered by copyrights laws. But, the other components of your brand cannot be protected with this alone. The best way to protect these is to obtain a trademark for your brand name, design, logo, slogans or any words that are associated with your brand or business.

This will help you obtain and use a registered  trademark symbol  of ‘®’ with your assets. But, in order to register materials that are connected to your brand, you need to file an application with the  US Patent and Trademark Office  or USPTO. Unfortunately, the registration process is neither guaranteed nor is it automatic. It may take up to three months to have your application reviewed.

You need to comply with two important facts to ensure that your application is accepted. You need to make sure that your application clears the “likelihood of confusion” criteria. This means that the marks you are registering should have no similarity in appearance, sound, pronunciation or meaning to another; and the services that you provide and the goods that you manufacture are not similar to another company’s.

Hence it is important to make sure that your trademark is no way similar to another. Here is where an intellectual property attorney can be of help.


Linking your brand to a source: Most often it has been observed that generic brands and more easily replicated and thus are an easy target for people who want to take advantage of a brand name. Linking your brand to a source makes it difficult to copy. For example, if you want to sell coffee then you must come up with a name like “ fresh coffee from Colombia” or “coffee for the soul” if you want your brand of coffee to stand out and not easily stolen. Linking your brand to a source makes it unique and hence difficult to replicate.


Creating a policy: It is important that you protect yourself and your IP in writing. Including a clause that protects your intellectual property in the terms and conditions will give you a strong legal edge in case of future court cases.

The terms and conditions are a legal binding for your users. The intellectual property clause also states that the trademarks and all material are yours and it cannot be copied or used by any other person. An  intellectual property lawyer  can help you draft your terms and conditions.


Stay alert: Theft of any or part of your intellectual property can have negative implications for your brand. Hence, it's important that you stay vigilant and alert of your competitors. There are various software which can help you monitor any infringements with your brand or product. You should also make your employees, who have access to your IP sign noncompete and nondisclosure agreements.


Limiting access: Limiting access to your IP is another way of protecting it. You must limit the number of people who know about your trade secrets. Sensitive IP should be limited to only a few people. Having role-based access privileges also helps to keep your IP secure.

Access to the IP needs to be reviewed frequently and changed when employees are promoted, terminated, re-assigned or re-organized.



You have worked hard on bringing an idea to life. For some people, it’s their life’s work and means much more than just fame and money. If you need help with safeguarding your big idea,  get in touch  with  Paul and Paul  at 866-975-7231 to speak with an experienced attorney today!


By Alex Sluzas 12 Jan, 2018

The Top Ten Benefits of registering your trademark with the USPTO


A trademark is considered a very important asset for any business. A trademark can be anything such as logo, a message, a word, shape, sound, color, taste or scent or a combination of any of these. A trademark is usually an identity of the business that helps in distinguishing the products and services produced by a particular business. Registration of a Trademark is an important requirement as it helps in protecting your brand and your business. You can hire an experienced  trademark attorney  who can file the application for a trademark as well as get your trademark registered with the USPTO (The United States Patent and Trademark Office).


While creating a trademark or preventing infringement may involve a cost to the business, it is an investment in customer satisfaction and retention. It also increases the visibility of your business, improves sales and the goodwill of your business.


Top Ten Benefits of US Trademark Registration:


1.    Your trademark gets recorded in the database of USPTO, once it is approved. Businesses that see your trademark registered on USPTO’s website will possibly avoid using a similar mark. This also serves a preemptive notice to everyone regarding your rights over the trademark and ultimately reduces the cost involved in potential litigation in the future.


2.    Once your trademark is registered, the USPTO will decline to register confusingly similar marks which may be conflicting with yours. The office of USPTO is obliged to cite all the previous registrations against any application for confusingly similar marks.


3.    Federal t rademark registration  also gives nationwide recognition to your mark as of the application date. An unregistered mark has limited rights within a certain geographic area. If you haven’t registered your trademark, it’ll give businesses in other geographic locations the right to use similar marks which might lead to loss of revenue and confusion in the minds of your customers.


4.    It also gives you the authority to use the symbol ® whenever the trademark is used for the products and services categorized in the registration. It gives your products added marketing status thereby making it known to the competitors about your seriousness to about your brand.


5.    Trademark registration also authorizes the US Customs and Border Protection to obstruct the imports of goods that are counterfeit or infringe on your trademark. Though for this you have to separately  get your mark recorded with Customs.


6.    A registered trademark gives rights to the owner to sue a trademark infringement in the federal court. If your trademark is not registered your attorney may have to use other means and routes to get a favorable decision in a federal court if there’s a case of infringement.


7.    A registered mark also provides a proof of the legality and exclusive ownership of the trademark for the products and services recorded in the registration.


8.    Trademark registration in the US will help in your foreign registrations and protect your mark globally once your business expands.


9.    You are also entitled to various statutory damages in cases someone produces counterfeits.


10.    After you have used the registered trademark for five years straight, you get the right to file your mark considered “incontestable.” This would discourage other businesses from raising possible challenges to your trademark. Additionally, a cease and desist letter carries significant weight which is based on “incontestable” mark.


It is also important to know that “merely descriptive” trademarks of the associated products or services are entitled to registration on the Supplemental Register in accordance with trademark laws. Such registration has some but not all of the benefits mentioned above. For instance, a

Supplemental Registration  allows the USPTO to restrict the registration of confusingly similar marks. Though a ‘Supplemental Registration’ gets recorded in the USPTO database, it does not prove in the court, your exclusive rights to use the mark. You can, however, get the mark registered with ‘Principal Register’ once it has “acquired distinctiveness”.


Getting a trademark registered in the US is much cheaper than a patent filing. You can hire an experienced Trademark Lawyer who can file your application on the basis of:


i)    A “bona fide intent to use” the mark allowing you to reserve a mark essentially for up to three years

ii)    Definite or actual use of the trademark in the United States Commerce

iii)   Ownership of a foreign registration.

A registered trademark allows you to take a realistic and practical move towards improving your authority. It also helps in saving a huge amount of unpredictable and unexpected court cases in the future.


If you have questions about trademark registrations, give Paul & Paul a  call  at 866-975-7231, and we’d be happy to help you.


By Alex Sluzas 08 Jan, 2018

Can You Trademark Hashtags and Do You Need a Trademark Attorney?


As I check my Instagram feeds, I see that one of my traveler friends has posted her picture with numerous hashtags like #sunset, #holidayinbali, #vacationdiary, and so forth. Another friend of mine uses hashtags to publicize her apparel business by posting pictures of designer clothes with multiple hashtags like #pleatedskirts, #orangeisnewblack, and #designercroptop. Doing so lets her connect with the potential customers who are on the lookout for similar items.


Hashtag


If you are on any social networking platform such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you must be familiar with hashtags. The hashtag is an unspaced word or phrase that is preceded by the # sign. Hashtagging a picture or text allows you to share it with others. The shared content can be found by people who are searching for similar hashtags. You can use hashtags to further both personal and professional interests. Not only can you share your thoughts and connect with like-minded people, but businesses can use it to promote their products and services, spread a word, share business-related news, and engage with the consumers. There is a world of opportunities that have opened up with hashtags.


With the popularity of hashtags, more and more brands want to establish ownership on the hashtags by trademarking them. Thus, it becomes crucial to know if hashtags can be trademarked.


Trademark Facts


Trademark refers to a symbol, design, word, or a phrase that identifies with your brand. The registered owner of the trademark retains the exclusive right to use it, and any other party using the same symbol or word without the knowledge and permission of the owner can be sued for trademark infringement.


Can you trademark hashtags?


According to the  United States Patent and Trademark Office  (USPTO), a term containing the hash symbol or the term “hashtag” may be registered as a trademark, but “only if it functions as an identifier of the source of the applicant’s goods or services. For example, #Starbucks identifies with a specific source of coffee.” On the other hand, any descriptive or generic word or phrase used with the hash symbol or the term “hashtag” cannot be registered as a trademark, for example, #coffee cannot be registered as a trademark because it does not signify the source of the coffee.


To trademark or not to trademark


This is a tricky question that has no definite answer. Whether you should

get your hashtag trademarked depends on the reason why you would want to do so. Thus,  before you seek to trademark your hashtag , you must evaluate your reasons. For example, it’s not a good idea to try to trademark your hashtag so you can stop others from using it because the use of a hashtag is not regulated by the trademark law.


This means that anyone can use a brand name to give an example or describe that particular brand. For example, saying that I love Nike in a social media post while using the hashtag Nike (#Nike) is not considered a trademark infringement.


However, you may choose to trademark your hashtag if the purpose is to use it as an identifier of your products and services or the message expressed in the hashtag directly connects with your brand image. For example, Nike's slogan "Just Do It" is considered a trademark when it is used with a hashtag (#JustDoIt). You can take the help of a  trademark attorney  to register your hashtag.


Infringements


Using the brand’s hashtag trademark in a social media post to talk about the brand is not considered an infringement; however, using hashtag trademark of a competitor in a manner that may deceive its customers or create confusion pertaining to the identification of the brand may fall into  trademark infringement  .


For example, in the case of a clothing company, Fraternity Collection, LLC v. Fargnoli sued its former designer when the designer began to use unregistered trademark hashtags like #fratcollection and #fraternitycollection to market her business. The court acknowledged that using a competitor’s hashtag may come under trademark infringement.


To avoid potential infringement and to understand what grounds you could pursue a legal battle, you must seek advice from a trademark lawyer.

If you have any trademark or copyright-related queries do  call  Paul & Paul at 866-975-7231; we would be more than happy to help.


By Alex Sluzas 05 Jan, 2018

Can you File Copyright for an Artificial Intelligence Powered Creation?


From self-driving cars to exchange-traded funds and healthcare, AI is making its grand entry in every realm of the human life. A few decades ago this might have sounded straight out of an Isaac Asimov novel.

Artificial Intelligence  is no more something we talk about that’s supposed to come in the future; it’s already here. Though there are many labor intensive, repetitive, monotonous and jobs of similar patterns that diminished with the advent of automation, artificial intelligence is taking things to a whole new level.


Programs can now learn things on their own, albeit fed with a large amount of data. It can also create new things by studying, analyzing and processing the enormous data sets. A lot of new creations are now active in various fields and are helpful for the human race. Not only in the field of science but there are new and original works that AI is creating in the field of arts.


These new creations pose a set of questions that have never come up before; who or what should the credit of ownership of the new entity go to? Is it the program, the programmer or the developer?


According to most  copyright litigation  the world over, a copyright is entitled to a natural or legal person. Up until now any program or tool used for creating an original work was just that… a tool. But the way things are progressing this might not be the case anymore.


In 2010 an AI system developed by  David Cope  created a musical composition by reading millions of pieces of music and inserting bits of random pieces.  It was named Emily Howell CD and was a breakthrough in the musical world.


Another example is Aaron, an AI robot painter and a guest scholar at Stanford University AI lab. Many of Aaron’s creations adorn the walls of major art galleries all over the world.


Most countries are currently debating on whether to offer copyright protection to the creators or companies involved in creating AI-powered original works. As no one has dealt with such issues to date the task at hand is quite complicated.


The EU Parliament has broken ground while taking the first step in February 2017, towards voting for enacting Robot laws. Though it has not been approved by the EU commission yet, it certainly created a lot of buzz.

According to the UK copyright and design act of 1988, a computer-generated work of art defines it as ‘generated by computer in circumstances such that there is no human author of the work.’ It’s pretty obvious they weren’t thinking of AI at that point in time.

Going by copyright basics, the UK, Ireland and New Zealand a “computer generated” work can be copyrighted, although in Australia, Germany, and Spain only humans are offered copyright protection. The world is still divided and catching up with the concept.


In the United States, Copyright Office has a Compendium, titled  “The Human Authorship Requirement, ” which is part states “The copyright law only protects ‘the fruits of intellectual labor’ that ‘are founded in the creative powers of the mind.’ … Because copyright law is limited to ‘original intellectual conceptions of the author,’ the Office will refuse to register a claim if it determines that a human being did not create the work.”


That effectively means a non-human entity cannot be offered copyright protection. There’s also a section which sites examples of “works that lack human authorship.” It specifically states works created by machines or mechanical systems without the creative input of humans will not be registered as a copyright. Even for that matter works produced by nature, animals or plants are not eligible for copyrights.


In the current scheme of things, it’s pretty clear that anything that doesn’t have a human element would not get copyright protection in the US. But the rate at which AI-powered creations are blending in with the human world this debate doesn’t seem like it’s going to die down. As humans and AI-powered systems learn to co-exist there’s bound to be a change in the copyright laws in the times to come.


The attorneys at  Paul & Paul  are skilled intellectual property litigators and prosecutors and welcome an opportunity to hear your case. If you’ve thought or created something that’s unique, please  contact  one of our  copyright attorneys  at 866-975-7231 right now, before an AI-powered machine beats you to it.

By Alex Sluzas 02 Jan, 2018

What is Intellectual Property and Why is it Important to Protect?

“Information wants to be expensive because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other” said Stewart Brand, a well-known American writer, in a  Hackers conference .


Let’s look at the duality of this quote while understanding the relevance of  intellectual property .


Intellectual property basics: On its face, the concept of intellectual property seems paradoxical. With advancement in information technology, the information becomes more crucial and valuable.


However, the very advancement in the technology enables people to share text, videos, and pictures on social media more freely. As putting control measures on illegal copying and dissemination of information on social platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter is difficult, the valuable information becomes readily available, leading to the devaluation of the information.


Note that not every idea is one of intellectual property. Only those ideas, products, or services on which the ownership rights have been established come under intellectual property.

Below are the four types of intellectual property:


Trademarks – Trademark refers to a design, word, symbol, or words which represent the products and services of a company. Some examples of popular brands that have strong brand identity include  AppleNike , Coca-Cola, GE and McDonald’s. One can readily identify a brand with its trademark. A company can register its trademark if it’s available.


Patent - The idea of patenting is usually misunderstood. You would often hear people saying that “I am going to patent this idea or that product”. However patent doesn’t give you the right to use or make something. In fact, it gives you the right to exclude others from making your product. Some of the strange patents include a high-five machine. As per the law, nobody can make a high-five machine, but you need to make all the information about making the products available publicly.  Once your patent expires, others can use this information to create their products.


Trade Secret – McDonald's is a good example of a  trade secret . McDonald's was founded in 1955. If McDonald's had patented the recipe for its burgers, it would have been available for public use after the expiry of its patent. Thus McDonald's chose to keep the recipe as a trade secret. Anything unique to your business like marketing strategy, ideas, and sales methods can be kept as a trade secret.  You must take the help of an  intellectual property lawyer  to help you maintain a trade secret as unlike a patent, a trade secret cannot be registered directly.


Copyrights – Copyright means exclusive right to print, publish, and record. It saves the work of artists or authors from potential infringements. Using a picture, song, or a movie clip without the required permission of the owner can be considered a copyright infringement.


Why does intellectual property matter?


  • Drive economic growth and market competition-- Industries based on intellectual property account for over ⅓  of total U.S. GDP, whereas the overall impact of the intellectual property comes to 40% of US financial growth and employment. Thus, the significance of intellectual property for economic growth cannot be ignored.
  • Prevent the loss of your intellectual property – If you are working for a company and have been sharing your ideas or creative work, you must know who retains the ownership of that work, and what are the terms and conditions of the work you do. If the company holds the right to the creative work done by an employee, you would lose your intellectual property. Thus, it’s important that stay informed to avoid any such loss.
  • Avoid potential infringement- Using someone’s intellectual property unknowingly can lead to you pay heavy fines or penalties. Some common examples of Intellectual property infringement include using copyrighted novels, movies, songs, videos, and pictures.
  • Encourage innovation- As owners know that their information is protected, intellectual property rights facilitate the flow of the information.



These are the basics of intellectual property. If you have an idea and want to explore on how it could benefit from filing, or have  general questions  about Paul & Paul’s  services , please give us a call toll free at  866-975-7231 to speak to an attorney today.


By Alex Sluzas 29 Dec, 2017

A trademark is an identifiable logo or sign that differentiates your product or services from competitors. It helps the customers identify the source of the product. Though filing a trademark has become much easier today, sometimes obtaining a trademark involves several steps which are critical as well as complicated. Hiring a  trademark attorney  isn’t essential, but it sure is beneficial. Here are the reasons why you should hire one:


Assistance in Trademark Research

A trademark attorney can help you in acquiring a suitable and legally acceptable trademark and slogan for your business. The lawyer would put together a research report of the trademark made by you and may counsel you about the results of the research. During counseling, you may seek clarification about any doubts that you might have about the process and pricing of registration. You may also get your questions about the steps to register a trademark answered.


Trademark Application

Officially, a trademark application can be submitted by the proprietor or a trademark agent. The process of submitting such an application is easy, but keep in mind this will impact the entire registration process, so make sure the application is filled out without mistakes. Your trademark lawyer knows the legal technicalities and thus can make the process easier for you. A trademark attorney also helps in shunning expensive mistakes while you choose and make use of your company’s trademark.


Help Avoid Registration Mistakes

Having a trademark increases the chances of greater sales volumes and improves the profit margins of your business. A registered trademark would increase your business’ visibility not only in the marketplace but also in the online world. Today, the majority of the businesses use trademarks for setting their brand apart to customers online and offline. A trademark attorney can help getting the trademark registered while you channel your energy in your business and save you hassles and valuable time. Your attorney can also protect you from making expensive mistakes.


While Starting a New Business

If you are planning to start a new business you must seek guidance from an experienced trademark lawyer for understanding the  trademark basics and facts . It is advisable to involve the expertise of an experienced trademark attorney before you have committed any money or resources for a specific trademark.


To Avoid Potential Conflicts

Your trademark attorney can also help in avoiding potential conflicts with other trademark owners. For example, if you have acquired and utilized a trademark already, your lawyer can do research to discover any  trademark infringements . If there are any conflicts, the lawyer will be able to legally settle the case to save you from any further damage.


Help with Federal Registration

If you have been using a trademark for quite some time; an experienced trademark attorney can guide you in case your business would benefit from a federal registration. If you decide to go for one, the attorney can help in drafting your application and see you through the entire procedure of the registration process.


Meeting the Requirements of USPTO

It is important that you familiarize yourself with the trademark basics as required by the USPTO (The United States Patent and Trademark Office) before applying for a trademark. The trademark attorney can help you in a multitude of cases whether you require a trademark, logo, slogan or any other form of intellectual property protection for your business.


Cease and Desist Letter

Apart from getting your trademark registered, your trademark lawyer can also help in enforcing your trademark. On the other hand, your lawyer can also assist if you get a  cease and desist letter.

These letters are the first step towards litigation and would mean you have to stop using your trade or service mark in the event of any trademark infringement claim made by another company.


Registration of trademark requires knowledge of trademark procedures as well as trademark law, thus picking a knowledgeable trademark attorney will make your life easier. You must choose an attorney who can answer all your questions regarding trademark as well as any aspect of the other intellectual properties of your business.

Hiring a professional trademark lawyer is a great investment for your business. Your attorney can help you handle not only registrations but also any disputes or infringement that could hamper your business.


The attorneys at  Paul & Paul  have over 170 years of experience in intellectual property litigation. The process to trademark a logo can be complicated, but our attorneys can assist you in the process and answer any questions you may have about trademarking. Please  contact us  today at 866-975-7231 for a consultation.


By Alex Sluzas 27 Dec, 2017

What You Need to Know In Order to Trademark Your Company’s Logo


news story  caught the attention of several companies awaiting the formal confirmation for a trademark in 2014. A woman who added Skywalker to her name could not get her passport renewed as her signature resulted in an infringement of an existing trademark namely L. Skywalker. The name of a company along with its logo happens to be intellectual properties that are sacrosanct and cannot be used by anyone else publicly to depict a brand or a name.

Remember, how you can recognize a company by glancing at a logo? Well, the logo needs to be protected as per the law and needs to be marked as a trademark associated with a particular brand or product as well as a service. It is necessary to protect a logo, image, a word or group of words and have it registered by the  'Intellectual Property Office'  in order to protect your intellectual property (IP) and safeguard it from being misused.


Difference between Trademark & Copyright


You would often come across the word copyright when researching about intellectual property. The word copyright differs significantly from a trademark. It concerns the creative side of an owner and protects all kinds of artistic works including musical pieces, literature, drama, and films as the sole property of its creator. An author can well give up his/her ownership and hand the copyright of a particular work to a publishing house or a film studio thus giving the right to convert the written work into a film or a work of literature.


Although there is a subtle  difference  between the two, you can indeed register a group of words as both a copyright as well as a trademark. Remember the popular phrase that makes you think instantly of McDonald’s? ‘I’m loving’ it’ is a phrase that had been coined exclusively to promote the brand and is an original slogan unused by anyone else before. However, most companies prefer to have such a slogan registered as a trademark as it is easier to prevent infringement of a trademark than proving plagiarism for a three-worded phrase.


After you have checked the trademark basics as well as the various aspects of intellectual property laws, it might be the right time to contact a  qualified trademark lawyer . Your brand is indeed dear to you and needs to be treated as an intangible asset. Your products have the trademark stamped on it clearly and it is this image or logo that is the key to differentiate the product from that of your competitors. Sure, you want to keep it protected at all costs. The best way to go about it is to meet with a trademark attorney who has the requisite experience in dealing with  IP matters .


How can a trademark lawyer help you?


  • The trademark attorney will explain the process in layman terms so it’s easier for you to understand. Even if you are may be familiar with the definition it is always helpful to let your lawyer explain it in detail so that you become aware of the law. The importance of registering a trademark will also be explained to you by your lawyer. He is certain to discuss the pros and cons too.
  • You may be aware that texts, images as well as logos can be trademarked. However, the attorney will be able to provide you with more information including letting you know that an offbeat shape along with a particular sound or audio can also be protected as a trademark. This will help you to find the best form of a trademark for your company. The attorney will be able to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each and assist you in identifying and choosing a strong trademark for your brand that is sure to receive maximum protection from being infringed upon.
  • The trademark attorney can also help you to decide on the class or category of your trademark. This is sure to be perplexing as your company may market a number of products suitable to be included in more than one class. It is, therefore, a good idea to request your lawyer to register the trademark in multiple classes.


To register your logo the summary of steps are as follows:


  1. Perform a search to make sure your logo is unique. Though you can do it yourself; the expertise of a trademark attorney will help you better define the search criteria and also make better sense of the search results
  2. If you file your trademark application with the  USPTO,  you’ll have rights to use the logo all over the United States. If your business is in a specific state like Pennsylvania, you can opt to register it with the Secretary of State’s office.
  3. Once you’ve obtained the rights to your logo you should protect it with a proactive watch, this is offered by various legal agencies. This service alerts you of any infringement or when someone is using logos that are very close to yours.


The seasoned attorneys at  Paul & Paul  have over 170 years of experience in litigation and prosecution of intellectual property. If you are looking to trademark a logo, or are interested in any of our other IP services, please  call us  at 866-975-7231 to speak with a legal representative today.


By Alex Sluzas 22 Dec, 2017

What is Trademark Theft? How Can It Be Prevented and Handled?


“Apparently a multinational corporation thought it was ok to use my name, brand, and my personality in their marketing initiative that I had no idea about”

Turner Barr is the founder and creator of “Around the World in 80 Jobs,” a blog in which Barr had been documenting his experiences in 80 different jobs in 80 different locations. In 2013, Barr found that a multinational firm, Adecco, had launched a campaign “Around the World in 80 Jobs” without his knowledge or permission. Although Barr started the blog two years before Adecco’s campaign, the firm received the right to use the name as the firm had established its trademark on the idea.

However, after a long social media campaign, public shaming, and dialogue with the company, Adecco recognized Barr’s claim, fulfilling his demands.

Could Barr have avoided this struggle?

YES!

Prevention is better than cure as the adage goes.

The struggle Barr had to face could have been avoided if he had trademarked his blog in the first place. Thus, the best option to save your trademark from being stolen is to protect it.

How to Prevent Trademark Theft

Here are the five points you must know to protect your brand identity:

1.    Adopt a unique name - When choosing a name for your brand, avoid  generic or descriptive terms  such as “Happy, healthy meals” as they could be easily challenged, easily duplicated, and are very common. Instead, you should go for names such as Nestle, KFC or McDonald’s, which are easily defended.

2.    Get your brand registered: If you haven't marked your territory, you cannot claim it. Thus, once you have finalized your brand name, get it registered. To do so, you can  get help from an attorney  or use any of the numbers of services available online.

3.    Maintain an active online presence: Registering your trademark is not enough. You need to use it actively to avoid its disuse by someone. This includes keeping all paperwork and correspondence up-to-date. In case of infringement, an active online presence can help you defend your case.

4.    Keep yourself alert: While maintaining an active presence, you must keep an eye on social media, search engines, and local channels for any potential infringements.

5.    Consult legal experts: The role of the legal experts is not limited to registering, managing, and monitoring your brand. While trademark lawyers help you protect your brand identity,  intellectual property litigation lawyers  help you protect your ideas in fields like academia, medical, and retail. They also assist in developing and shaping the ideas.

How to Handle Trademark Theft

Despite all the precautionary measures, you need to be ready for the potential trademark thefts. Thus, if you find that someone has stolen your trademark, you need to perform the following checks before taking any actions.

1.    Understand the gravity of the impact: Before acting upon any infringement, you need to first evaluate its potential impact on your business.

For example: if the term that has been copied is not central to your business and abandoning it will have no negligible impact on your business, then it’s recommended that you just ignore such an infringement. However, if the stolen term/idea is a significant part of your business, then you must assess how strong your claim on the term is.

2.    Seek professional help: You must consult a legal expert to understand whether you should  opt for a legal battle .

For example, it may not be advisable to defend against an infringement that is based on a descriptive word as it’s difficult to establish your claim on a common term.

3.    The possibility of a settlement: Not all trademark thefts are intentional; some may simply be the result of ignorance. Thus before taking any legal action, you must initiate a dialogue with the other party and express your claim on the trademark. Knowing your claim on trademark may make the other party reluctant to get involved in a legal battle.

In short, not every dispute needs a court battle and hence keep it as your  last option !

Trademark theft is a serious matter that can harm your business. If you are in need of a trademark attorney, call the offices of  Paul & Paul  at 866-975-7231 for a consultation today.


By Alex Sluzas 18 Dec, 2017

How Do You Prepare For a Meeting With a Patent Attorney?

I found my friend Tony frantically searching through the Yellow Pages the other night. He was one of the nerds in my class back in college.

Always wanting to go green and get rid of plastic, he had invented something along those lines and was looking for a patent attorney or patent agent (people who are authorized to practice law for the US Patent and Trademark Office). Research on the topic told me that there are a few things that you need to know before you consult with a  patent attorney .

Primarily, a patent attorney or patent agent must have a degree in a technical discipline like engineering, chemistry, pharmacology or similar. This is important to understand the technical aspect of the inventor’s invention. So how do you prepare for a meeting with a patent lawyer? Here are some tips:


Confidentiality: Federal regulations require that patent attorneys maintain a  confidentiality record  for all clients. The rule applies to both existing and prospective client. You are considered a prospective client if you approach a patent attorney looking for information, advice or direction regarding the product that you want to patent.

But, if you are just speaking with the lawyer without revealing too much information about your product you need not sign an agreement. Most patent agents or attorneys generally keep the first meeting non-confidential. This is because the attorneys need to understand what you are seeking and make sure that your patent does not have any conflicting ideas with clients they are already representing.


Preparing for the meeting: When you take your invention to a patent attorney, it’s important to make sure that you have all the right material to explain your invention. Incoherent rambling will very likely confuse the attorney, and the attorney may lose interest in your product. So preparation is very important for a patent meeting.

Here are some ways you can prepare:

  • Obviously, the patent agent has no idea about your invention, so start by giving some background information before you jump into the actual product information.
  • Pictures can say a lot about your product so give information about your product through pictures. Diagrams also help if your product is a machine.
  • Be prepared to answer all the questions that you will be asked. If you cannot answer questions about your own invention, then people will not take you seriously. Additionally, be cohesive when you talk about your product.


Payment: As an inventor, you would think that you can pay your attorney after your invention gets a market as you probably already have put in a lot of dollars for your invention. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Sadly most inventions do not make a lot of money (that should not stop you from inventing!).

An attorney will take your case on a contingency basis only when they are sure that your invention will bring in some money when it is patented in the market -- hence the popularity of contingency cases. Payments can be worked out with your attorney on a partnership basis where both you and your lawyer will make money once your product is in the market.


Choosing the right attorney: Ask for a recommendation before you meet your attorney or agent. People who have already gone through the process can give you the right tips and suggestions.

It is OK to meet a few attorneys and agents before deciding on one. Everyone has a specific budget (even large companies) so it fine to “shop around” for an attorney.

A good attorney will be able to guide you through the process of the application, from how much it would cost you to file for a patent to how it can be marketed with minimal information. You can even use the USPTO’s website to look for recommendations.

The thing which can put an attorney off is when you compare their rates with others. So watch out as you may lose a good attorney in this process.


Be informed and be realistic: Patenting an invention takes time and patience. So be informed about the  time frame  that may be required to get your invention patented. 


Being informed about the rules and regulations about patenting will help you work with your attorney hand in hand and help you take the right decisions. You can visit  www.uspto.gov  to get all the latest and updated information regarding patenting a product.


Contact a Patent Attorney Today

If you would like to meet with an experienced patent attorney,  contact  the offices of  Paul & Paul  at 866-975-7231 for a consultation today.


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.
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