An intellectual property lawyer is a lawyer who helps people register, protect, and make money from their unique ideas.
The United States prides itself on ingenuity and innovation.
Accordingly, multiple protections are available to those who invent and create. Despite these protections, the IP Commission reports that pirated software, counterfeit goods, and trade secret theft cost the U.S. economy between $225 and $600 billion every year.
This goes to show just how valuable intellectual property can be.
Unfortunately, the ins and outs of intellectual property, or IP, law can be hard to navigate without experience.
That is why you should rely on an experienced intellectual property lawyer to help you protect your ideas.
How Is Intellectual Property Protected?
There are four main ways to protect intellectual property in the United States.
A patent gives an inventor the right to prevent others from “making, using, offering for sale, or selling” an invention for a certain period of time.
Utility patents last for 20 years and apply to inventions and discoveries of useful and new products or processes. Design patents, on the other hand, apply to inventions of a new ornamental design for a product and last for only 15 years.
Patents are designed to allow inventors to profit from their ideas by giving them time to develop, market, and sell their invention without interference. However, patents eventually expire so as not to unduly inhibit competition and innovation.
Trademarks include things like logos, company or product names, and catchphrases. They are the things that make your product or company stand out from others.
A trademark can be protected even if it is not registered. However, registering your trademark gives you broader protection and puts others on notice that you own the trademark.
To register a trademark, you have to actually use it or intend to use it in commerce. Additionally, the trademark must be distinctive. The more distinctive your mark, the more protection it will receive. While trademarks can last indefinitely, you need to regularly renew your registered trademarks.
Copyright gives the owner the exclusive right to copy a work. It pertains mostly to creative works such as books, music, visual art, photographs, video, and other media.
Rules have changed over the years regarding how long a copyright lasts. However, the current rules apply to anything created after January 1, 1978. If the author is one or more individuals, the copyright lasts for the longest surviving author?s lifetime plus 70 years. If the author is an institution or is anonymous, the copyright lasts for 95 years from the time of publication or 120 years from the time of creation, whichever comes first.
Trade secrets include inventions, processes, designs, compilations, etc. that have economic value to a business because of their secrecy. Trade secrets are protected by secrecy rather than registration.
There is no limit on how long you can keep a trade secret as long as you take adequate steps to protect it. Even if your secret is stolen, there are laws in place that may allow you to stop others from using or profiting from your secrets.
What Is an Intellectual Property Lawyer?
An intellectual property lawyer can advise you on the best way to preserve your IP rights and profit from your ideas. As discussed above, there are several possible ways to protect your intellectual property, but without proper advice, it’s easy to take the wrong path.
For example, let’s say you have invented a new machine that will speed up the production of widgets. In that case, there is actually more than one way to protect your invention from IP infringement. The best method for you depends on how you plan to use the invention.
If you plan to market your machine to manufacturers, then you will want to file for a patent so that you maintain the exclusive right to develop and sell the machine for the length of the patent.
On the other hand, if you intend to use the machine to develop widgets yourself, and it will keep the machine secret, you may be better off relying on trade secret protection rather than registering a patent. A patent will expire after 20 years, but you can keep a trade secret indefinitely.
Your IP attorney can discuss these types of questions with you and help you determine the best way to protect your ideas.
Your attorney can also help you take action if someone tries to use your intellectual property illegally.
They may send a letter insisting that the person stop their infringement.
If the person refuses, then your attorney can file a lawsuit and seek money damages, and possibly an injunction.
How Can Polasek Law Help with Your IP Needs?
John (Ted) Polasek has spent the past 25 years helping clients all over the country to establish and enforce their IP rights.
Ted focuses on helping inventors and companies enforce their patent, trademark, and trade secret rights or defending companies accused of violating these rights of others.
Ted can also help you apply for and obtain trademarks.
He provides the type of individualized attention that you can’t find at larger firms, and he offers flexible fee arrangements to meet your personal needs.
Call or contact Polasek Law today to schedule a free initial consultation and learn what Ted can do for you.