Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property refers to certain products of the mind that you can protect and defend through legal avenues. In today’s information age, the value of intangible property like intellectual property has skyrocketed. One completed product, like a smartphone, could involve the use of thousands of patents alone. Many of the Fortune 500 companies today derive most of their value based on information, brand reputation, and trade secrets alone.
There are several different types of intellectual property which an attorney can assist in protecting, the most common include:
A trademark is a form of intellectual property designed to protect words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify the source of goods or services and are used to help distinguish them from those provided by others.
There are two types of trademarks which an individual or organization can protect: design marks and word marks.
Word marks often involve broader protections and protect the actual words and characters submitted. Design marks, while narrower in application, are often stronger and more distinct and thus easier to defend against use by competitors.
For example, if you started a company called “Zeus Electrical” providing electrician services with a large, horizontal lightning bolt incorporated into the logo, the words “Zeus Electrical” may be part of a word mark whereas the logo with the text, font, and horizontal lightning bolt would be part of a trademark. The “Zeus Electrical” word mark might then help prevent a competitor from subsequently starting or expanding “Zeus Electrician Services” and the design mark may prevent the competitor from using a very similar font and horizontal lightning bolt design.
Copyright is a form intellectual property protected by the United States Constitution for “works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” Common forms include literary and musical works, but also movies, sculptures, plays, and even architecture. An area that federal courts grapple with is how and to what extent software code can be protected as “literary works.”
Patents protect inventions and discoveries. The idea of a patent is to allow individuals and organizations to invest time and money in discovering and inventing solutions to the world’s problems—both big and small—without the worry that someone else will steal their solution and get away with it.
Part of the objective in obtaining a patent, trademark, or copyright is to put the public on notice that this is your property and that anything that looks or acts too closely to it may be infringing on your property rights. But what if obtaining a patent, trademark, or copyright is impossible or making your work public would destroy its value? Trade secrets include valuable information like in-progress inventions not ready for a patent application, a secret process at the core of developing an exclusive product or service, or a secret ingredient. Rather than getting help through federal substantive law, trade secrets are typically protected under contract law.
Our intellectual property attorneys can assist with a variety of matters related to copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets.
 https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html (Last visited April 27, 2021).