Intellectual property may be intangible, but that certainly does not mean it is not worth protecting. Ideas have worth from the moment they are produced in the mind, and only grow in worth as they are used to create advertising, media and even products. The results that come from these ideas can have very tangible effects on a business. Because, at least initially, intellectual property can’t be physically held, it can be hard to prove ownership. For this reason, federal and state laws offer protection through patents, trademarks and the copyright process.
Intellectual Property in California
Disagreements over intellectual property, also known as ip, are one of the most common types of business litigation. Most business owners understand that their ideas are assets that can have a significant impact on the value of the company. Whether it is a slogan used in advertising, a logo on packaging or a patent for a new product, these ideas must be protected. The intellectual property laws in California cover a wide variety of intangible concepts, including:
Perhaps more than any other type of intellectual property, the value a patent can add to your business is obvious. A patent is intangible, but may serve as the blueprint for the products you sell. In many cases, a patent lies at the heart of the success of a business. For this reason, it is important to ensure your idea is protected from the beginning.
Patents don’t always have to be used to make a physical good. A patent can certainly cover a manufactured item, but it can also be an idea for a chemical, device or even process. An experienced intellectual property lawyer will extensively research similar patents to ensure your idea is unique, and will then walk you through the application process.
Obtaining a patent for your idea will protect it from being used by competitors for 20 years. If others want to use your idea, they must pay you in order to license your patent. This payment is known as a royalty, and is the only way another company can legally use your patented idea. It will always be up to you whether you choose to license your patent, and how much they are charged.
When a phrase, symbol or logo, or even a sound or color, is used to promote a business, it comes to represent the company. If someone else begins using the same mark, it can cause confusion for customers and affect the bottom line. To prevent this from happening, it often requires the help of an intellectual property lawyer.
Trademark infringement lawsuits are more common than you may think, and can be complicated when neither business has registered the mark with the U.S. Trademark Office. Even if a trademark is not registered, there are some legal protections. In most cases, the company who first used the mark is legally assumed to hold the rights to its use. Establishing first use, however, can be tricky. This is why it is a good idea to register any trademarks used to promote or identify your company or products. Registration with the United States Trademark Office makes it much easier to enforce your trademarks, and prevent improper use.
Intellectual Property Lawyers in San Fernando Valley
No matter if you need to protect a new idea or have received a letter about infringement, the Attorney Referral Service of The San Fernando Valley Bar Association can connect you with a local attorney who can help you. Contact us online or give us a call at 818-340-4529 for more information on our services.
Let us know if you’re an attorney interested in becoming a member of the SFVBA’s Attorney Referral Service.