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Sacramento Intellectual Property Law Blog

Design pattern at heart of trademark dispute

No industry, market or business may be truly free of concerns about competitors trying to gain advantages through unfair practices. This is part of why trademarks, patents and other forms of intellectual property are called out and able to be granted certain protections. However, these protections or marks may be granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office but must be upheld by individual mark or intellectual property owners themselves.

One company that has been known for a very specfic pattern used on clothing accessories for nearly a whole century is today actively pursuing a lawsuit against another major retailer citing trademark infringement. Burberry is the company that holds a trademark for a specific checkered pattern often seen in cashmere scarves. It apparently came to their attention some time ago that Target was selling a range of products with a pattern very similar to the Burberry one.

Be on the lookout for phishing emails

Phishing emails are one of the great scourges of the internet. These emails are designed by malicious actors to look like actual communiqués sent by companies or other organizations, but in reality these emails are meant to steal your personal information. These emails will trick an unsuspecting California recipient into entering sensitive information into a fake website. They may also carry malware that can infect the recipient’s computer.

Some phishing emails are pretty easy to spot. According to techrepublic.com, you might receive an email that is supposed to be from a major corporation but the message contains a lot of spelling errors or bad grammar.  Words may contain missing letters or sentences lack punctuation marks. A major company would review its emails for spelling and grammar as well as possible legal issues, so it is unlikely such sloppy work would make it into a company email.

How is trademark infringement identified?

If you want to name your business or a certain product or service you offer something special, you will want to pay attention to any trademarks that may exist for the terms you are considering. If you end up using a term that is legally trademarked by someone else, you may be at risk for that company to ask you to stop using the name or mark. Understanding what may give credence to such a request will be important for you to know.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the sheer fact that you have used a name or mark is not the only thing that will be evaluated in a potential trademark infringement case. A key part of determining whether or not there is an infringement is any confusion that has been caused or may be caused to the consumer by the use. This may be evaluated based in part on how similar the names or marks are and how similar or not the two types of products, services or industries are and how and where items are sold.

Drug makers continue disputes about patents

Companies have good reason to be concerned about protecting their intellectual property. It is often essential to their success in the marketplace and to retaining key competitive advantages. Defending a trademark, patent or copyright is not always an easy thing to do, however. Even when a legal decision initially seems to favor one company's position, that does not mean the dispute is fully resolved.

An example of this can be seen in the pharmaceutical world as two drug makers, Merck and Gilead, have been at odds with each other over patents concerning drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C. In two separate cases, Gilead has been successful in overturning verdicts and awards originally made in favor of Merck. One of these involves an award totalling more than $2.54 billion and the other involved an award of $200 million.

Protecting intellectual property

Any type of business in California can have what constitutes trade secrets that they need and want to protect. As explained by the United States Small Business Administration, a good way for a company to identify its trade secrets is to consider what its competition would most want to know and what may actually aid the competition should they know it. For the local cupcake shop, this might be the recipe for a special frosting or batter. For a computer software company, it might be the code used to develop a product.

Regardless of the nature or size of a business, protecting these trade secrets is and should be a priority. In fact, courts do put some of the onus for this on companies. The World Intellectual Property Organization indicates that defending a patent or a trademark, for example, is the responsibility of the entity that holds that patent or trademark.

A brief look at various online crimes

In the digital era, offenses involving the internet take a myriad of forms. Moreover, while some people may think that these charges carry relatively insignificant consequences, being charged with an internet crime can permanently shatter someone's life. Aside from hefty financial penalties and years behind bars, their reputation may be damaged beyond repair. As a result, if you have been charged with an internet crime in Sacramento, it is crucial for you to carefully take a look at your options and handle the charges cautiously. Furthermore, you should realize that there are a wide variety of offenses people may find themselves accused of.

On this blog, we have discussed the consequences associated with online piracy and copyright infringement. However, there are far more web-related offenses, such as allegations of cyberbullying, computer fraud, or identity theft. Sometimes, people are charged with an offense involving pornography, such as "revenge porn" which involves the sharing of pornographic material without someone's consent.

Do you have to worry about copyrights online?

Many Californian residents - potentially including you - don't actually know a lot about copyright law. This can be an issue if you ever find yourself facing claims of copyright infringement. Fortunately, Millstone, Peterson & Watts, LLP, are well-versed in all of the nuances of copyright and can help you out, regardless of what problems you have run into.

With daily internet usage becoming so widespread, more copyright cases over intellectual properties are happening than ever before. Software developers in particular tend to run into issues with copyrighting. For example, did you know that even if you hire someone else to create work for you, they may still have ownership of the copyrights? This can put you in a bind if you're using that copyrighted work in your own programing or project development.

Comic strip likeness subject of new copyright suit

Intellectual property can include a wide range of things such as a new technological invention, the creation of a new music video, a novel and more. It may also include the likeness of a comic strip character. One such character that was originally developed and drawn near the early years of the century is a little frog that appeared in publications for young boys. By 2016, that frog was identified as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.

It is that transformation and journey that ultimately led the frog's creator and artist to file a new copyright infringement lawsuit. This new action is actually the second lawsuit regarding the very same frog. While the frog was a character is an ongoing comic series, it eventually was used as a meme online and in posters and on various websites associated with racist, ultra conservative and even anti-semitic groups. It was even used during political campaigns including the most recent presidential campaign of the now President.

How can you keep your trade secrets safe?

Most business owners in California are just like you. They have trade secrets that they protect in order to ensure that their business flourishes. But how do you keep those secrets under wrap? It can be a difficult task, especially as your business continues to grow and gain more employees.

The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that you take certain steps toward securing your business and trade secrets. There's an emphasis on the actions that can be taken to encrypt and secure the information itself, and also how you handle presenting these secrets to your staff.

Trademark protections and enforcement

Businesses in California who have special designs, names, logos or other assets that they wish to protect may seek to be granted a trademark. As explained by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark must be formally applied for and offers the receipient the ability to indicate that the trademarked designation is theirs and has some market recognizeability as such.

One of the things that not everyone may know is that while the USPTO reviews applications for trademarks and ultimately grants trademarks, it does not enforce the trademarks at all. Instead, the responsibility to enforce this type of intellectual property lies solely and squarely with the trademark owner. This theoretically means that a competitor could use a trademarked product name or logo, for example, quite successfully and even for a long period of time if the company that owns the trademark does not do anything about it.

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