Business law is complex and an unavoidable part of running a business no matter how big or small. A business law attorney can help businesses of any size navigate legal matters that can threaten the health of a business.
One matter that can put a company in jeopardy are intellectual property issues. Violations against intellectual property rights can have serious financial consequences, even if the violation was an honest mistake.
The attorneys of Bowles & Verna LLP would like to take this time to discuss business law and intellectual property issues affecting clients in Walnut Creek, CA, San Francisco, and the surrounding Bay Area.
What Is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property is a term that refers to the creation of original work. Some examples of intellectual property include business logos, business names, inventions, literature, music, paintings, and other artistic works.
Business Laws and Intellectual Property
There is a whole area of business law created around intellectual property. Intellectual property laws exist to protect the ownership rights of those who have created original works.
In order to secure exclusive rights to intellectual property, a trademark, copyright, or patent should be in use. Let’s take a look at each of these types of intellectual property and some related issues businesses may face.
Trademarks and Intellectual Property Issues
Trademarks are used to protect names, slogans, logos, or other symbols that identify a company or its goods. The intent is to help distinguish one business and its goods or services from other businesses by preventing another business from using the same name, symbols, or other identifiers unique to the business.
Intellectual property issues can occur when one business inadvertently or intentionally uses the same name, slogan, or other branding symbol already in use and trademarked by another business.
Copyrights and Intellectual Property Issues
Copyrights are used to protect original intellectual and artistic creations, such as music, literature, movies, television shows, and architecture. A copyright exists as soon as artistic expression is produced in a tangible medium. For example, written on paper, sculpted in clay, or recorded to film or digital file.
A business may violate a copyright by using the same melody as another business’s jingle, even if the words were changed.
Patents and Intellectual Property Issues
Patents provide inventors the exclusive rights to their invention, and the sole rights in producing and selling the product. Patents also allow the patent holder the option to transfer the patent to someone else for a profit.
Patent infringement can occur if another business or company begins manufacturing and selling something another party has the patent rights to without authorization.
How Can Business’s Protect Against Intellectual Property Infringement?
Intellectual property infringement occurs anytime intellectual property is used without the consent of the property owner. Sometimes, another business will knowingly infringe on another business’s intellectual property. Or, perhaps more commonly, infringement may occur simply because the other business wasn’t aware of the copyright, trademark, or patent.
One of the best ways for intellectual property owners to protect their property is to make their ownership known. Obtaining a patent or registering a trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or a registering a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office can help.
Additionally, labeling patented items with their assigned patent number or as “patent pending” and using the trademark symbol (™) or the copyright symbol (©) can further show others that something is intellectual property.
If intellectual property infringement occurs, a business attorney can help resolve the issue by pursuing legal remedies, including filing a lawsuit.
Learn More about Business Laws and Intellectual Property
If you are a business owner and need help with intellectual property issues, we encourage you to call (925) 935-3300 and schedule a consultation with the business law attorneys of Bowles & Verna LLP.