Unless you are working for the United States patent office, knowing what it means if an invention is owned by an investor can be difficult. What do the terms copyrighted, patented, or trademarked even mean?

Inventions, copyrights, patents, and trademarks can be quite confusing. Even more so are licensing agreements, and when these words combine to form terms such as patent license agreement or trademark license agreement, among others.

What not to infringe

Intellectual property rights are seldom on the priority list when one is just starting to try running a business. It should be prioritized, however, because infringement concerns must be taken very seriously. Failure to take these matters into account could lead to financial losses, even if violations were not intentional. A violation of copyright law, trademark law, or patent law could lead to lawsuits that are costly and time-consuming.

Any product or service that is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) must be dealt with in a manner under intellectual property and copyright laws. Understanding these is crucial to avoid accidentally infringing upon the trademark and patent rights of another.

Intellectual property/IP licensing terms

Intellectual Property ConcernsSomeone who agrees to grant a license contract, or someone licensing rights from another for a specific period, must first be familiar with what is allowed and prohibited under license terms. This, after all, is legal protection for both parties dealing with licensed products and material.

Both the licensor and licensee shall not do anything unauthorized under the terms and conditions of the contract. Both must fulfill their obligations and exercise diligence to comply with relevant statutes, especially if third parties are involved. Remember that the other party may decide to sue you for infringement disputes arising from invalid or disregarded license agreements, and no one wants to get sued.

More common than one would think

With all the different types of intellectual property that could be part of a licensing agreement, avoiding intellectual property infringement is not easy. Business owners often face the risk of violating intellectual property rights in many ways. Granting and making use of licenses can be quite complicated, and rights could be infringed unknowingly.

Washington, D.C. IP attorneys who are knowledgeable with the copyright act can attest to this. Licensors and licensees who are not careful with their actions would find it difficult to avoid IP infringement. Take intellectual property rights into account in every decision you would make which involves the use of wordings, graphics, product components, among others. It is necessary to consider all legal aspects when using protected material. 

Clarify everything in the licensing contract

Negotiate when necessary, but make sure to clarify limitations on the right and license to use any intellectual property right. The licensing arrangement is likely not perpetual. As such, clarify clauses on termination or expiration and renewal terms of the agreement, after it is terminated. 

Another aspect of any license grant that must be clarified would be royalties or license fee. Negotiation is almost always necessary for this subject matter. Check if fees or royalty rates are fixed or based on net sales and if such will be a limitation given merchantability and other market factors. Indemnification is also something that you need to clarify. When in doubt, ask a reliable Washington, D.C. IP attorney.

When drafting or accepting a non-exclusive or exclusive license agreement, you must first know what is implied and what must expressly be stated in the document. Washington, D.C. IP attorneys can help you with this. Get legal help before you draft, distribute, sign, or terminate any document related to intellectual property.

For copyright infringement issues, for patent infringement concerns, or anything in connection with trademark infringement, give us a call. Contact a trusted Washington, D.C. IP attorney at War IP Law.