Intelectual Property Attorney Brandon, FL

Intellectual Property – What Does That Mean?

Intellectual property (IP) is a term that refers to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized – and the corresponding fields of law.  Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols and designs.  Common types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets.

A copyright is an intellectual property right.  More specifically, it is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work.  Originally, copyright law applied to only the copying of books.  Now copyright laws cover a wide range of works, including maps, sheet music, dramatic works, paintings, photographs, architectural drawings, sound recordings, motion pictures and computer programs.  Copyright is literally, the right to copy, though in legal terms “the right to control copying” is more accurate.  Copyrights are exclusive statutory rights to exercise control over copying and other exploitation of the works for a specific period of time.  The copyright owner is given two sets of rights: an exclusive, positive right to copy and exploit the copyrighted work, or license others to do so, and a negative right to prevent anyone else from doing so without consent, with the possibility of legal remedies if they do.

Under U.S. copyright law, the justification appears in Article I, Section 8 Clause 8 of the Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause.  It empowered the United States Congress “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”  The term or duration of a copyright for most existing works is for a term of 70 years after the death of the author.  If the work was a work for hire ( ie. one created by a corporation) then the copyright persists for 120 years after.  If you have a literary piece, a sheet music from a song you wrote, a book or manuscript that you wrote, a screenplay, computer programs, sound records or architectural works you can protect them from being copied and exploited by others by obtaining and registering a copyright.  Our law firm is here to help you jump through all the hoops and the legal maze and successfully obtain your registered copyright.

Another form of intellectual property right is a trademark.  A trademark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.  A trademark may be designated by the following symbols:  TM (for an unregistered trade mark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand goods); ® (for a registered trademark)

A trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image or combination of these elements.  Terms such as “mark”, “brand” and “logo” are sometimes used interchangeably with “trademark.”  A “trademark”, however, also includes and device, brand, label, name signature, word, letter, numerical, shape of goods, packaging, color or combination of colors which is capable of distinguishing goods and services of one business from those of others.

Trademarks must be maintained through actual lawful use of the trademark.  These rights will cease if a mark is not actively used for a priod of time, normally 5 years in most jurisdictions.  However, unlike other forms of intellectual property ( ie. patents and copyrights) a registered trademark can, theoretically, last forever.

If you have a business or a product that you wish to establish a trademark for our law office is here to assist you through this process.  If you already have a trademark that you believe is being infringed upon, our law office is here to bring any infringement action that might be necessary.

A third form of intellectual property is what is known as a patent.  A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state (national government) to an inventor or their assignees for a limited period of time in exchange for a public disclosure of an invention.  The exclusive right granted to a person or company in most countries including the United States, is the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention without permission.  Most patents are protected for a term of twenty years, however, different types of patents may have varying patent terms or durations.

Have a great invention that you need to patent?  Our law office will assist you in the application process and registration process to obtain a patent.  Have a patent that has been infringed upon?  Our office can assist you in stopping the infringement and recovering any damages as a result of the infringement.

The fourth type of intellectual property is what is known as industrial design right. An industrial design consists of the creation of a shape, configuration or composition of pattern or color, or combination of pattern and color in three dimensional form containing aesthetic value.  An industrial design can be a two or three dimensional pattern used to produce a product, industrial commodity or handicraft.

The fifth and final area of intellectual property is the trade secret.  A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers.  An example of a trade secret would be the ingredients that go into making “Kentucky Fried Chicken”, only Colonel Sanders knows.  Trade secrets are by definition not disclosed to the world at large.  Instead, the owners of trade secrets seek to keep their special knowledge out of the hands of competitors through a variety of civil and commerical means, not the least of which is the use of non-disclosure agreements and non-compete clauses.  The validity of non-compete clauses has been challenged over the past few years and if the non-compete clause is not unreasonable in radius or duration they have been upheld.  If you have questions regarding the validity of non-compete clauses and/or non-disclosure agreements our law firm is ready to assist you.

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You can contact us at:

The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones
P.O. Box 2664
Brandon, FL 33509-2664
813.681.8383
bej@belainejoneslaw.com