Intellectual property management is not simple. While it is of high importance, not a lot are familiar with how intellectual property and copyright law works. For some people, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is only a place for inventors who want to protect inventions from unfair competition. This is not the case. Since a wide range of things is patentable, applying for a patent or trademark is relevant to a lot of people. As such, it is crucial to know what constitutes trademarks, copyrights, and patents. If you have plans on obtaining a patent from the US Patent Office, it is important to find an attorney with technical expertise on intellectual property practice. After all, any action done must be pursuant to intellectual property laws.

If you have obtained permission to use the intellectual property rights of someone else in the past or are already granting rights for intellectual property, you probably have an idea of what the other party is allowed to do and is prohibited from doing. For those who are reading about intellectual property and copyright laws for the first time, it might be helpful to begin by clarifying IP basics. This is where the services of intellectual property lawyers become crucial.

Intellectual Property LawIntellectual properties are, in the broadest sense, properties that are not tangible. They refer to sets of rights that involve ownership of products that were made or created using one’s creativity or intellect. These include the use and commercialization of the ‘products’ of one’s mind. Common examples include machinery, graphic design, and musical compositions.

Take note that not all intellectual properties are the same. Copyrights, for instance, are generally used for creative works that are put into or recorded in a tangible medium. Common examples include musical recordings, writings, plays, and films. When dealing with these things, make sure your actions are according to the copyright act. Do not do anything unlawful and exercise diligence when dealing with copyrighted material.

Applying for a patent is generally for a technical or mechanical invention or innovation. Keep in mind that when one is granted a patent license, such may only be used for purposes and during the period that was agreed upon. All your actions must be pursuant to relevant patent laws. As a basic rule, do not make use of patented property beyond the manner you are entitled to. 

A logo or slogan that is used to identify and increase the marketability of a certain product is covered by trademark protection. Trade dress and service marks are also under statutory trademark law. Being granted the right to use a trademark involves identified terms. Specifics may vary from party to party, but trademarks and other intellectual property rights must only be used for products or product categories that are part of the agreement. Not disregarding guidelines that come with trademark protection will help minimize legal issues.

The term trade secret is often used for production methods, instructions, or recipes. Trade secrets are bits of knowledge that are not readily accessible but are crucial in giving an individual or a company an edge over a possible competitor. When someone agrees to grant rights to use these and other intellectual property to a contracting party, terms and conditions must be clear and strictly followed.

It is important to always comply with pertinent copyright, trademark, and patent law. The geographical limits, exclusivity, expiration, and renewal terms must be specified in any agreement that parties concerned are entering.

When intellectual property is used by another inappropriately or without the permission of the intellectual property owner, a case of infringement takes place. Infringement applies to the different types of intellectual property. However, regardless if it is a trademark infringement, patent infringement, or copyright infringement, such is unlawful and must be avoided at all costs.

When dealing with papers that are to be submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office, it helps to have a trusted Washington, D.C. IP attorney helping you. These things must be taken seriously. Knowing what to include or exclude in your provisional patent application or drafting your trademark registration is easier with the right intellectual property law firm.

For clarifications on the above or for questions on copyright, trademark, or patent licensing, give us a call. Contact our Washington, D.C. IP attorney at War IP Law to get the legal services of a reliable intellectual property lawyer.