Identifying Your IP Rights

Protecting your IP is vital to every business strategy. It starts with first, understanding what IP is and then identifying your specific IP rights. However, a surprising number of companies don’t take the steps necessary to safeguard their intellectual property. Things like business names, products, logos, designs, shapes, utilities and manufacturing processes differentiate a company from its competitors thereby protecting its revenue. So why not contact the attorneys at War IP Law and start protecting your IP today?

What Do Trademarks Protect?

Trademarks protect things like business names, product names, logos, and related things that identify a business and its products or services.

While common law offers some protections for using a name or symbol in a limited area, if a mark is not registered with the U.S. Trademark Office, you could end up having your future use of the mark restricted if someone else registers it before you.

By properly registering your trademarks, you become the exclusive authorized user of the mark for your goods and/or services in the United States.

What Do Copyrights Protect?

Copyrights protect things like software, website content, schematics, music, photos, literary and artistic works, among other things. The creation must be an original work that is secured in some fixed medium or otherwise recorded. Inherently, a copyright is associated with that material and the manner that it is expressed. Copyright provides the exclusive right to reproduce the work and works derived therefrom.

When a copyright is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, the copyright owner receives the additional benefits of it being a public record, making it easier to pursue legal remedies against someone who uses the material without permission.

What Do Patents Protect?

A common patent type is the utility patent. A utility patent protects unique devices and apparatuses, methods of manufacture, chemical compounds, formulas, drugs and generally those things commonly referred to as “inventions.” Patentable inventions are usually solutions to technological problems and may be apparatus or methods. Having a patent provides the owner the right to exclude others from using, making, selling or importing his devices for a period of 20 years from the application filing date. Patent rights can be licensed, assigned and sold by the owner.

Design patents are different from utility patents in that they only cover the shape, pattern, appearance and ornamental design. Design patents generally include drawings or figures that depict a product. Design patents are limited to 14 years of protection.

Not everything is patentable, so consult with an experienced Washington DC patent attorney before investing too much time or money in developing a product or process that you hope to patent.

What about trade secrets?

Almost every company will have some type of trade secret. Basically, something that they do or possess that gives them a unique business advantage (e.g., a special manufacturing process) that is not patented but is a closely guarded secret. Companies my choose to protect their intellectual property through the use of a trade secret rather than patenting it. This is because they do not want to provide a detailed description of their secret to the patent office which will become available to everyone once the patent application is published and available for use by everyone once the patent expires. Of course, a trade secret only lasts if it remains secret so internal safeguards must be in place for it to survive. If the secret is stolen there may be some recourse against the offending party but if someone figures out how to replicate your secret, there is probably little you can do. This is why you need to consult with a trade secrets attorney. They can help you to determine the best way to protect your intellectual property.

Who can help companies protect their IP?

Working with an experienced Washington DC IP attorney is the best way to protect your IP rights. Start by calling War IP Law, PLLC today.