Trademark, Copyright or Patent?

Trademark, Copyright or Patent?

3 types of Intellectual Property: Copyrights, Trademarks (Servicemarks) and Patents. Copyrights cover items such as written materials (books, magazines, websites), sound recordings and photos. Trademarks cover company or product names, slogans and logos. Patents cover useful items, inventions and processes. Who owns the Intellectual Property? The person who created the work automatically own the work.  There is an exception in the case of an employee or independent contractor who is under a work for hire contract or if there is a contract which gives the rights to the purchaser of the work.  But if it’s not stated in writing, then generally the creator owns the items, not the person who paid for or commissioned the work to be done. Watch out for: Ghost Writers or Content Writers.  Be careful if you have hired a ghost writer or content writer.  Remember, the one creating the work, even under your direction, will possibly own the rights to it.  Co- Authors:  It can be complicated when working with a co-author.  How do you determine who owns what. What if the two co-authors split before the work is done?  What if they publish the work and want to use it for different purposes? Translations: Incredibly, if you hire someone to translate an item that you own the copyright to, the translator may wind up owning the copyright to the translated material! What can you do?  Get it in writing!  A well-written contract can be worth its weight in gold when it comes to Intellectual Property.  When hiring anyone for creating a work, whether it be a content writer, web designer, graphic artist or...
Trademark Scams: How to Spot Them

Trademark Scams: How to Spot Them

Shortly after filing a trademark application, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or with another non-US, government trademark agency, a growing number of our clients inevitably receive one or more official-looking letters or invoices seeking payment related to the trademark registration. You may have received one of these notices in the mail or via email yourself—a solicitation, formatted to look like an official government document, that lists data about your trademark application and even an image of your trademark (all of which is publicly available information). Many of these companies use terms that resemble an official agency name including one or more of the terms “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.” The truth is, these solicitations have absolutely no legal or other significance to your trademark registration. If read carefully, you can see that the solicitations provide useless services such as listing the application on an internet database or sending a reminder that an issued registration is up for renewal sometime in the future. Some of the solicitations don’t even disclose what services they are providing. These worthless notices are convincing and tend to solicit significant amounts of money from the trademark owner, often exceeding the actual fees necessary to register a trademark. Unfortunately, some trademark owners pay these invoices, believing they are legitimate, official invoices, because they are unaware of the scams and do not read the solicitations carefully. Any official postal correspondence regarding your trademark registration or application in the United States will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” with an address in Alexandria, Virginia. Any emails related...
Choosing a Company Name

Choosing a Company Name

Choosing a Business Name What’s in a name?  When you’re talking about naming your new business? A lot! I’ve had many client come to me when starting a business and have the business plan, their products or services all laid out, we talk about funding and corporate structure and the first thing I need to know in order to start the process? The name…  It sounds superfluous but it is an important part of a business and you want to take some time and thought before diving in. Here are some tips to get you going in the right direction. Unique Name Some business owners want to use a completely unique and made up name.  This is very strong from a trademark standpoint on one hand.  On the other hand you don’t want to have to constantly explain what your business is or what you do to every person you meet. Choosing a business name is really a balancing game. You need to find a name that will fit all the criteria. Descriptive Name With a descriptive name you won’t have the issues of anyone asking what it is that you or your business do.  But you must be sure to keep is short, to the point and make it catchy.  Having a long business name can hurt you.  A long business name can be boring, can lose interest in potential clients, it won’t fit nicely on a business card and the logo would look horrendous. I have had clients with long business names come back to me within 2 years or less to rename the business. This can mean...
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