Intellectual Property & Trade Secret Law
For many businesses, intellectual property is among their most valuable assets. Both federal and California laws provide various intellectual property protections. IP law may concern copyright, trademark, patents, trade secrets, or licensing. If your business needs to obtain protection or is facing challenges related to intellectual property and trade secret law, you should consult a Pleasanton intellectual property lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch.Intellectual Property Protection and Litigation
Intellectual property and trade secret law governs proprietary rights related to designs, symbols, names, and images used commercially, as well as inventions, literary works, and art. There are different categories of intellectual property, for which protection may be obtained under the law for different periods of time.
Patents are sought for the making, using, and selling of inventions. To obtain the patent, the inventor must file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It may be appropriate for a company to proceed with patent litigation against another company to enforce its patent rights in an invention when the other company makes or sells the invention without permission.
Trademarks and service marks allow business owners to distinguish the source or origin of services or products by using words, symbols, phrases, or designs. Common law rights in a mark can be based only on how the mark is used in commerce, but it may be worthwhile for your business to file a trademark application with the USPTO for greater protection. A company may wish to pursue litigation with the assistance of an intellectual property attorney in Pleasanton when another business uses its trademark or service mark in connection with goods or services in a way that is likely to generate deception, confusion, or mistake about their source.
Copyrights allow owners certain rights, such as the right to publicly perform a work or prepare derivative works, in connection with original works of authorship. The usual term of copyright protection is your life plus 70 years after your death. Works made for hire have a longer term of copyright protection.IP Litigation
Intellectual property and trade secret law can have significant consequences for a business. When IP rights are infringed, and it is not possible to work out an informal resolution through a cease and desist letter or negotiations, it may be appropriate to pursue litigation. Lawsuits may also be necessary in connection with licensing disputes or dilution claims.Claims of Misappropriation Under Trade Secret Law
There are many types of trade secrets. These include formulas, recipes, processes, techniques, software, confidential marketing information, customer lists, and unpatented inventions. A Pleasanton intellectual property attorney can advise you on how to protect a trade secret. Generally, courts are more likely to deem information a trade secret when: (1) a company has used reasonable measures to guard the secrecy of the information, (2) the information is valuable, (3) it is a challenge to acquire or create the information independently, and (4) the information is known only to those involved in the business, such as employees. Many companies require employees and others to whom they disclose trade secrets to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
California has adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. If another business or individual acquires, uses, or discloses a company’s trade secrets through inappropriate methods, such as breach of contract, theft, bribery, or misrepresentation, it may be appropriate to pursue a claim for misappropriation under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Both financial compensation and injunctive relief may be sought. Financial compensation may be awarded for the actual loss attributed to the theft or for profits obtained as a result of the misappropriation. Injunctive relief is a court order instructing the defendant to take an action or avoid taking an action. Punitive damages may be available in situations involving outrageous conduct.
Additionally, federal laws may apply to protect trade secrets and provide separate causes of action. For instance, the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act allows the owner of a trade secret to sue in federal court when trade secrets were misappropriated.Retain an Intellectual Property Lawyer in Pleasanton
It is important to take proper precautions to protect the investment of time, money, and ingenuity in assets created under intellectual property and trade secret law. Likewise, it can be critical for a business to defend itself aggressively against claims of infringement. If you need assistance with complex matters involving intellectual property or trade secrets, call the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch at (925) 463-2575 or complete our online form. We represent clients in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.