Intellectual property (IP) is a vital asset of any business, forming the foundation of a brand, how a company operates, and a distinguisher that differentiates a business from its competitors. Protecting, buying, and selling intellectual property is an important part of creating a business, and entrepreneurs deserve to have their legal and financial rights protected. To learn more about how to protect your legal and financial rights regarding intellectual property transactions contact our experienced intellectual property attorneys at Loop IP Law.
Intellectual property encompasses a broad range of intangible words, phrases, ideas, images, methods, and inventions that constitute or are used to identify someone’s goods or services. Intellectual property rights serve critical functions in today’s creative and scientific world and come in many forms. Examples of different types of intellectual property include:
Correctly identifying an individual or entity’s intellectual property is the first vital step to protecting these legal rights.
As the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) explains, trademarks are words, symbols, designs, or a combination thereof that an individual or company uses to identify their goods or services. For example, the Nike “swish” is a trademark, as is the word “Coppertone” to designate the Coppertone company and its goods. There are different types of trademarks, each with varying levels of protection:
The USPTO deems original creative works and forms of expression, such as books, movies, art, music, and architecture fully copyrightable under the law. As the USPTO explains, individuals and entities do not have to register their works with the USPTO to gain fundamental and exclusive rights to their copyrighted material. Instead, they typically acquire these rights when they publish or create the work for the first time in any form. That said, they can obtain additional and more robust protection by registering their material with the USPTO.
Broadly speaking, the United States Code defines trade secrets as information that is of value or can be used to create value, and the owner of these proprietary secrets has made reasonable efforts to protect it. Additionally, trade secrets are information or methods not generally known or discoverable unless, for example, the individual works for or has a special relationship with a company.
Trade secrets are protectable for an indefinite length of time if they continue to possess the above characteristics. This type of intellectual property is pervasive among all businesses. It is immensely valuable because it often describes key processes or methods the company uses to generate products or deliver services.
According to the USPTO, patentable inventions are novel and non-obvious creations that fall into one of three categories: design, utility, or plant. The invention must meet particular criteria to be eligible for protection under each category. When someone obtains patent rights through the USPTO, they gain the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the patented creation for a designated length of time (generally, 20 years).
Similar to other types of intellectual property, patents can be licensed or sold to others. When someone gains a license to use a patent, they have the right to make, use, or sell the invention in the manner described by the contract for a designated length of time. The patent holder and the person or entity acquiring the patent license can benefit from the arrangement.
Intellectual property attorneys perform essential functions in transactions, helping parties to properly value, protect, sell, and defend their legal and financial rights under the law. Other valuable services that IP attorneys provide during IP transactions include:
Identifying and protecting one’s intellectual property is incredibly important, as is developing a strategy to continue to develop and/or safeguard unique ideas or inventions. Intellectual property attorneys help individuals and businesses correctly identify their intellectual property and help them craft strategies to further protect their inventions and creative works. An IP attorney can evaluate an individual or business’s creations and advise them on when and how to obtain proper safeguards to ensure that the company’s trade secrets or patents do not lose value through inadvertent disclosure.
Because of their technical background and knowledge, intellectual property attorneys are adept at helping parties to properly and accurately value IP rights, including patents, trademarks, copyrighted works, and trade secrets. Experienced intellectual property attorneys perform critical and thorough due diligence, which is essential to correctly identify the value of the IP and determine the appropriate contract terms and components.
Ideally, IP transactions will proceed without any issues. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in a complex world of many moving parts. IP attorneys can help parties resolve disputes that arise during the transaction and enforce the terms of the agreement if another party fails to fulfill their obligations articulated within the contract.
Patent licensing is an often mutually beneficial way for patent holders to allow others to use their patent rights while reaping the rewards from the hard work it takes to secure a patent. Loop IP Law focuses exclusively on patent, trademark, and other intellectual property matters and regularly helps clients draft and secure patent licensing agreements. For legal help, consider contacting a patent licensing attorney on our team today.