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Sacramento Intellectual Property Law Blog

Is it worth your time to patent your invention?

As the creator of a new idea, business model, or invention, you may have been advised to apply for a patent. However, there's a lot of conflicting information out there about patents, what they can do for you, and how they work.

Entrepreneur asks the same question: is it really worth your time and money to apply for a patent? They look at it from one angle, viewing a patent as a potentially important tool in an arsenal that can be used to establish business success. They don't, however, believe it to be the only tool or even the most vital one.

Trademark infringement suit voluntarily dismissed

California businesses that face pressures, including the threat of legal action, from much larger and more established companies can all too often feel like they have no choice but to comply with requests even if those requests are not reasonable. That actually seems to be what some small marijuana businesses in the state and in other states as well may have done when threatened with trademark infringement by a large confectioner. 

However, one dispensary in Oakland ended up taking a different approach and it seems to have paid off for them. The company was selling an edible pot candy made by another company that had a name alleged to be similar to a well-known candy that does not contain pot. The manufacturer of the non-marijuana candy contacted the seller, not the manufacturer of the pot candy and demanded that they stop selling the item and accusing them of a trademark infringement.

Are your trade secrets at risk?

California business owners like you depend on trade secrets to keep your edge in the market. However, the more people you add to the mix, the more potential risks there are for information leaks. Do you know what the most common sources of these leaks are, or how to stop them if they occur?

Inc.com shows a list of 4 common ways that trade secrets get leaked to the public by employees or other staff members. Two common ways include carelessness and accidental leaking. These two differ because accidents don't have to be a result of not paying attention or letting your guard down, which is usually the case with careless leaks. Accidents can stem from any unpredictable scenario, such as clicking a wrong button, picking up paperwork that wasn't intended for you, or even just speaking with the wrong person.

Second copyright lawsuit against same song loses

California residents who are engaged in artistic endeavors know the importance of protecting their intellectual properties. Copyrights are a primary mode of doing just this for people who write books, produce movies, create paintings or write and produce music. The protections these copyrights grant, however, may not always be as clear as one might think. When it comes to the world of musical lyrics, for example, there is some latitude for similarity.

A well-known singer and songwriter has won awards for a song that was released in 2014. Since then two different entities have attempted lawsuits alleging copyright infringement based upon similar language used in other songs before the award-winning song ever came along. Both of the suits have proved fruitless in their efforts.

Trade secrets and protections for small business

Entrepreneurs of entities large and small in California know that one of the key elements to success with their business operations may lie in the form of something unique to them that they do not want anyone outside of their organizations to know about. These may often be referred to as trade secrets and protecting them is something every small business should know how to do.

As explained by the U.S. Small Business Administration, one of the key things that business owners and managers should do is to educate their employees about the trade secrets and how to keep them secure. Clear and effective communication to all who have access to the information is a must lest someone inadvertantly disclose something they should not.

What should you do if someone pirates online content?

When you provide online content in California, you usually ensure that your work is original and does not copy another person's content. Sometimes, though, you may find that your own work has been pirated. It is important to know what you should do in this situation.

You should usually document any evidence of pirated work. According to Kissmetrics, it is a good idea to take screen shots of the material that has been plagiarized so you can demonstrate that the material is actually yours. In some situations, you may not need to report this person. Sometimes someone might agree to remove your content from a website if you send him or her an email.

Trade secret lawsuit filed against Uber techs in California

The Silicon Valley has become synonymous with advanced technology. This is now one of California’s most competitive fields. As such, there seem to be numerous opportunities for tech companies to discover incidents of infringement or trade secret theft.

Recently, Waymo, on behalf of Alphabet Inc., filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies, Inc., claiming the ride sharing company is using trade secrets for self-driving technology. The lawsuit claims that former employees, now working as engineers for Uber, are using knowledge they gained at Alphabet to develop the technology for Uber. There is reportedly a race among tech companies to develop viable self-driving vehicles for the public, and competition is brutal. Waymo is seeking almost $2 billion in damages and an order to block Uber from developing the specified technology.

Intellectual property litigation for writers

When California writers prepare works for publication, they may wonder how they can protect their works. It is important for writers to understand which aspects of their work are protected by a copyright and when this copyright has been violated.

Some writers may want to copyright everything related to their writing. Copyright.gov says that there are certain things a writer can copyright. All of the material a writer puts on his or her website, including pictures and artwork, can be copyrighted. Additionally, original works are protected by a copyright. This includes the songs or poems someone might write to include in their book. Writers cannot copyright their title, however, or names they have made up. An author's domain name is also not protected under a copyright. While some writers may want to protect their ideas, ideas are not eligible for copyrighting.  

Pictures on the internet and copyright laws

When California residents find pictures on the internet, they may not always consider the ownership of the picture. Not all images found online are available for public use and it is important to understand when a picture is being used illegally.

People may think that a picture is copyrighted only if it is accompanied by a copyright symbol. Techwalla.com says that an image can be copyrighted even if there is no information that indicates this. If people find a picture on a website that is publicly available, they can usually save the image if they want it for their personal use. However, someone cannot give the image to others or print out copies of it. Some copyright information makes it clear how an image can be used. If people find a picture that has a Creative Commons license, they can typically use the picture if they give credit to the person who made the image.

What should you know of protections for intellectual property?

Creators in California will always need ways to protect their intellectual property. Fortunately for you, there are also many different methods allowing you to do just that. Whether it's patents, copyrights, trademarks, or more, there are legal ways to keep your creative ideas, art, or inventions safe.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a chart defining different types of intellectual property protection. Today, we'll take a look at trademarks, copyrights, and patents. We'll start with trademarks, which are used to protect the symbols, words, slogans, and other product or brand-identifying pieces of art or writing. The Nike checkmark is one such protected trademark.

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