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Sacramento Intellectual Property Law Blog

What constitutes intellectual property infringement?

Infringements on any intellectual property rights you have should be taken seriously. As a Californian, you have protections for patents, copyrights, trade secrets and trademarks. According to Copyright Alliance, your rights to protect your intellectual property rights against infringements is granted under federal law. In general, infringement occurs whenever anyone violates the specific rights granted to you under federal law.

Patents offer you protection against anyone creating your invention and trying to use it as their own. This also covers you if someone were to try to import or export your invention without your permission.

Amazon is changing the retail environment with a patent

It has been big news recently in California that Amazon has purchased Whole Foods. What may not have been such breaking news is the new patent the retail giant has secured. This patent is a game changer, which is not surprising since Amazon has been working hard to change the retail environment for years. However, this is going to change the in-store shopping experience and maybe not in a way that shoppers will be happy with.

According to Fortune, this move by Amazon is to stop comparison shopping when a person is in an Amazon-owned store. This is interesting because comparison shopping is what has led to the company becoming large and important in the world of retail. However, it is also a contributing factor to the demise of the brick and mortar store, which is a sector the company is rapidly working to move into. Obviously, the company is no fool when it comes to doing business, so the patent it secured is designed to make its move to physical stores more secure.

How law enforcement was ill prepared for the rise of the internet

Internet usage is at an all-time high. Most people in California and across the country use it every single day, multiple times a day. It is used for recreation, business and financial reasons. With this rise in internet use, comes a rise in internet crime. Like any innovation before it, people have learned to use the internet to commit crimes. Unfortunately, as Government Technology notes, the law has not quite caught up to the internet criminals.

Fighting internet crime is not easy when law enforcement lacks the training and resources needed. Cyber criminals are savvy and skilled. They know how to beat security systems and get past even the toughest barriers. They are stealing identities, personal banking information, confidential business information and even hacking government files. There is no doubt they are skilled.

Examples of highly sought-after trade secrets

While trade secrets in California can be for anything, from computer algorithms to formulas, some of the most famous are for food recipes. Many of today’s major brands have some trade secret they are protecting. Most people have eaten these foods, and many may be wondering how these companies keep their recipes from being discovered or revealed.

According to Fox News, it is common for people to try to reveal secret recipes. However, few are ever successful. Bush’s Baked Beans has a well-known trade secret for its bean recipe. The company even did commercials talking about the secret, claiming only Jay Bush and his dog know it. Coca-Cola perhaps has the most sought after secret formula. Many have tried to crack it but none have succeeded. This recipe has been protected since it was created in 1886.

Do I have to register my copyright?

You probably are aware of what a copyright is and how it can protect your creative works. However, many people in California do not understand the details of the protection and how it is acquired. According to the Unites States Copyright Office, you gain copyrights as soon as your work is in “fixed form,” which means it has been written down, recorded or otherwise put into a tangible form. You do not have to do anything to secure these rights, including registering your copyright.

However, registration of a copyright is an important step to take to secure all your rights and to fully take advantage of the legal protection available. If you register, you can file a lawsuit in federal court for any infringements or illegal use of your work. In addition, your copyright will be recorded and can be searched for in the Office’s database. You may also then register with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent copies of your work from being imported into the country.

The sad tale of the expired fidget spinner patent

Fidget spinners are the newest fad in California and states across the country. Go to any social media site, and you will see people posting things about them. Some people love them, and others hate them (many of which are teachers whose classes have been interrupted by these toys). However, despite the feelings about fidget spinners, they are hot right now. It seems that they came out of nowhere, too. One day, they were just suddenly the biggest thing everyone was talking about. There is a really good reason for this.

According to The Street, the patent for fidget spinners was held by Catherine Hettinger until very recently when it expired. Since then, other people have gained access to the design and have begun freely manufacturing and selling their versions. Unfortunately, because her patent expired, the original inventor has not been able to recoup any of the profits these other manufacturers have earned from their spinners, which are selling like hotcakes. She is trying to get funds to start making her own version, but for now, she has to watch everyone else profit off her idea.

Facts about the patent ombudsman program

Applying for a patent is a complex process that requires a person to follow the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s instructions completely. For those Californians who are new to the process, filing an application can be a daunting task. It can become even more difficult if the application process has stalled for some reason or the patent has been rejected. That is why the USPTO has introduced the patent ombudsman program. This program is designed to offer assistance to filers during the application process.

The program offers help with initial filings, rejections and any issues that may arise during the process. If a person wants assistance, he or she can fill out a simple form on the USPTO website and a representative will contact him or her within 24 hours.  Filers may also call the USPTO for assistance.

What are some important internet laws I should know?

When you use the internet in California, you are not in some lawless space where your actions carry no consequences. There are actually plenty of laws governing the internet and your activity when you are online. It is important for you to understand these laws, so you do not face penalties or legal action against you.

According to Digital Trends, if you are the owner of an interactive website where users can post items, then you should know about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This protects you from being liable for the things your users post or say on your website.

Tips for protecting trade secrets

A trade secret is only protected as long as it remains secret information. As soon as an unauthorized person become privy to the information, the protections are lost. This is why California business owners need to be vigilant about protecting their intellectual property. There are some solid tips that anyone can employ to keep their trade secret protections intact.

The Small Business Administration suggests that owners become familiar with the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and know what their rights and protections are. In addition, a trade secret should be in an encrypted file saved on a computer with limited access or protected in a locked safe if it is written down. The SBA also notes it is essential to identify trade secrets early and to educate staff or anyone who may have access to the information about the importance of maintaining its secrecy.

Performance arts and copyrights

If a person has something that he or she wants to register the copyright for in California, then it is important that he or she chooses the correct category to file under. Performance arts, as defined by the U.S. Copyright Office, is one option that a person has if the piece is something intended to be performed for an audience. There is a range of different pieces that could fall under this category, including dances, podcasts, screenplays, dramatic readings, sound effects, audiobooks and comedy routines.

Some of the different pieces that could be classified as performing arts may also fall under other categories. In order for a person to determine if a piece is right for this category, it is important to note the Copyright Act’s official definition, which states that it must be acted, rendered, recited, danced or played for an audience.

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