Whether you are an individual who has invested significant time and money into an exciting new invention, a singer-song writer with a growing fan base, or a business in the process of re-branding, an Intellectual Property lawyer can help you protect your creation from theft.
The term intellectual property refers broadly to creations of the mind, including music, literary works, inventions, business names, images, designs, and even symbols.
The legal safeguard you will use to protect your intellectual property depends on the type of property in question. Inventions are protected by trademarks, for example, whereas music and novels are protected by copyrights.
Why You Need a Dutchess County IP Lawyer
At Sayegh & Sayegh, we have been helping innovative individuals and businesses protect their intellectual property for years. Our dedicated, knowledgeable IP attorneys have a deep and holistic understanding of the entire process and can help you with the initial application for your trademark, or copyright.
If you would like to protect your intellectual property from theft or defend yourself against unjustified claims of competition or infringement, the skilled legal team at Sayegh & Sayegh can help. Contact us today at (845) 592-4448 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
Trademark or Copyright
There are two categories of IP law—industrial property and copyright. Industrial design, inventions, and trademarks fall under the category of industrial property, whereas copyright protections apply to artistic works. A Dutchess County IP lawyer can help you protect your rights, and your IP.
What is a Trademark?
To stand out in a competitive marketplace, companies seek to “brand” themselves in a recognizable way that positions them as the best and differentiates them from competition. Effective branding involves the creation of materials, including websites, brochures, advertisements, signage, and posters, using certain wording, designs, and symbols used to identify the company. These identifying features are known as the company’s mark.
Let’s say that Peter’s Polish Sausages uses the slogan “There’s not a better Polish sausage around. Not even in Poland.” If the company obtains a trademark on this slogan, the wording is protected from infringement (theft). And theft of a slogan doesn’t have to be verbatim; if Kelly’s Kobe Beef Emporium runs an ad saying, “There’s not a better Kobe beef burger around. Not even in Japan,” the company may be in violation of U.S. Trademark laws for using a slogan that is too similar to another company’s slogan.
Factors such as originality, proximity, and similarity of business type also come into play. For example, if Claudia’s cupcakes is based in Tampa and uses the slogan, “Claudia makes the best cupcakes in town,” she is unlikely to win a trademark theft case against San Diego-based Norman’s Knitting Needles for his use of the slogan, “Norman makes the best knitting needles in town.” The slogan isn’t particularly original, they are located on opposite sides of the country, and nobody is going to confuse one business for the other. If, however, Carl opens a cupcakerie in Tampa, up the road from Claudia, and uses the slogan, “Carl makes the best cupcakes in town,” Claudia’s claim of trademark theft will likely be deemed legitimate. Carl and Claudia are running the same type of business in the same general area, and the similar slogan could easily lead to confusion.
What Trademarks Do
A trademark effectively gives exclusive rights to the mark you own and allows you to prevent others from using a similar mark. In addition to the example of the slogan used above, your company’s mark can include the company name, logo, use of a unique color scheme, and other design elements. The lasting power of a trademark depends on various factors, with some having to be renewed every 10 years and others lasting forever.
What is a Copyright?
A copyright is similar to a trademark in that it serves to protect intellectual property from theft. The main difference between the two protections is the type of IP they are protecting. Copyrights apply to literary works, including poetry, novels, plays, films, and music; artistic works, including paintings, photographs, and sculptures. Architectural designs can also be protected by copyright.
What Copyrights Do
If you wish to use an image, photograph, or poem for public purposes, whether to promote an event, for your company’s marketing materials, or in a radio jingle advertisement, it is safest to assume that the work is copyrighted. Many, but not all, copyrighted works contain an official “copyright notice,” which includes the word copyright and the letter “c” in a circle. Before March 1, 1989, copyright protection was contingent on the presence of this official notice, but the requirement is no longer enforced. Even so, it is important to include a copyright notice if you wish to protect your literary or artistic work. This is because, without the notice, someone who has infringed upon your copyright will be able to use the defense that they didn’t know your IP was copyrighted. If, however, your IP had an official notice, your ability to win the case and collect damages will improve substantially. A copyright notice also serves to discourage others from using your IP in the first place.
When Does a Copyright Expire?
When a copyright expires, the IP is said to enter “public domain,” which essentially means that anyone can use the work for any reason.
Copyrights protect works published after 1977 for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. If the work was published after 1923, but before 1978, it is copyright protected for 95 years from its date of publication. Works published in the U.S. prior to 1924 are all in the public domain. An experienced copyright lawyer can help you develop a better understanding of copyright law and how it impacts your product or business.
Contact Sayegh and Sayegh Law Today
IP law doesn’t only apply to widgets and pop music; trademarks, and copyrights protect a wide range of industries, including biotechnology, nanotechnology, pharmaceutical, computer engineering, the internet, and e-commerce. If you have questions about protecting your IP or need to defend against an accusation of trademark or copyright infringement, the skilled legal team at Sayegh and Sayegh can help.
We have successfully protected the rights of countless individuals and businesses in Dutchess County and the surrounding areas, and we have an impressive track record of obtaining the results our clients want in a timely manner.
Contact Sayegh and Sayegh Law today at (845) 592-4448 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.