Business & Intellectual Property
Setting up a new business can be exhilarating, but it can also be overwhelming. Our firm coaches entrepreneurs through the formation process, ensures that they have fundamental documentation in place, and is there to guide owners from start-up to exit.
Our firm also assists entrepreneurs and creative clients in identifying, protecting, and defending their intellectual property assets. The American system of intellectual property law is complicated, but our firm has the experience to help our clients understand their rights and effectively protect their proprietary material.
What Do You Discuss First with Clients Looking to Form a New Business?
When a client wants to start a new business, the first thing I ask about is the product or service they are going to offer. Businesses rise and fall on the quality of their offerings.
I have a lot of clients who have several years’ worth of experience performing in the field of the business they wish to form. For instance, a client could be a contractor who’s been selling a certain kind of software to the government as an employee of a well-established company for many years. She may have realized that she no longer wants to be a cog in a company’s wheel, and has decided to perform the same kind of service through her own business…Read More
What Factors Should You Consider when Choosing Your Business Entity?
One main factor that you should consider when choosing a business entity is whether you are considering outside investment as a financing option for your business. If you are looking to bring in funding from third parties whom you don’t know, a classic corporation structure may be best. The corporate structure is more rigid and can require more formality under the various state corporation acts to be compliant with applicable law. Corporations often require a board of directors, officers, and shareholders – even if only a single person serves in all three roles.
This said, many clients believe that they must structure their business as a corporation when this is not the case. Normally, a corporation is not my first choice for a business. Instead, I usually recommend a limited liability company (LLC)…Read More
Why Every Business Needs Legal Counsel?
Every business, new or established, needs legal counsel, the same way it needs an accountant and a banker. Business law is highly specialized, and, ironically, may not always mesh with a lay person’s common sense. You may not need to call on your lawyer for months at a time, but having someone you trust with whom you can consult when the time comes is imperative.
For example, if you’re served with a lawsuit, you usually have just 21 days to prepare a response and get it filed with the court. Litigation timelines are short, and it’s important to have a good attorney who is knowledgeable about court processes and your business in order to provide you with the most protection. If the time comes and you don’t have an attorney, you’ll need to go through the often-lengthy process of auditioning firms and finding the one that’s the right fit…Read More
Does Your Firm Litigate Business Matters?
Our firm litigates several types of business matters. We try our very best to resolve business conflicts before they start, and many of the steps that we recommend on the front end are used to avoid litigation. If the need for litigation arises, and you already have your ducks in a row, the litigation can become an open-and-shut matter.
If the process progresses to the next step and we start negotiating with another party, whether they’re represented or not, we try to resolve the matter at that stage as well. Sometimes, the issues can be resolved by a settlement that calls for the payment of money, or the promise to do something or not do something, which can short-circuit the litigation process and save money for all parties involved…Read More
What are Some Alternatives to Business Litigation?
One of the easiest alternatives to business litigation is negotiation. I always tell clients that before we get involved in a suit, we try to discern whether the parties involved can come to a resolution on their own, because it’s cheaper, faster, and less stressful.
Sometimes, we recommend that the parties negotiate one-to-one first, without counsel involved. This is because the parties are often closer to the facts, and can come up with solutions that are creative and specific to their industry…Read More
What Areas of Intellectual Property Law Does The Lipp Law Firm Handle?
Our firm assists clients with three major categories of intellectual property law: copyright, trademark, and trade secrets. We are also able to consult on patent licensing and evaluation matters…Read More
What Rights Does an Intellectual Property Owner Have?
If you own intellectual property, you have four major ownership rights: the right to use, the right to police, the right to license, and the right to assign. Helping IP owners understand and assert each of these rights effectively is a major part of our firm’s intellectual property law practice.
The IP owner is initially granted the exclusive right to use the property at issue. This comes with an attendant right to police your rights if you observe someone using your intellectual property without permission…Read More
What Can You Do if Your Intellectual Property Rights Have Been Violated?
If you believe your intellectual property rights have been violated, the first thing to so is confirm that you have the law on your side. First, determine whether you have a defensible claim of ownership with respect to the IP at issue. Are you the senior user, and are your rights and registrations valid?
A “fair use” analysis can also help determine whether someone else’s use of your trademark or copyright is permissible under law. An IP lawyer can apply the various factors implicated by the doctrine of fair use and give you an opinion as to whether the unlicensed user may be able to use the doctrine as a legal defense…Read More
Copyright law gives the authors of original, creative works certain exclusive rights, including:
- Preparation of derivative works
- Public performance or display
- Digital transmission of recordings
If any of these rights are infringed, the author may bring a copyright action against the infringer.
Under a rule known as the “first sale doctrine,” any person who buys a copy of an original work can normally dispose of the copy they own by selling it to another person. However, this doctrine will not protect someone who makes unauthorized copies of a work and then distributes them.
One exception to this rule is the doctrine of “fair use,” whereby copyrighted works may be used for certain, limited purposes. A book reviewer, for example, is allowed to quote from a book in order to summarize and evaluate it. Works may also be reproduced for certain educational, religious, political, and parodic purposes.
Copyright matters can quickly become complicated, and often require the expertise of a business and intellectual property attorney to navigate effectively.
Trademark Prosecution & Policing
A trademark is a combination of words, images, or both that are used to market specific goods and services. While some trademark rights arise organically through the regular use of a mark in commerce, a mark owner gains far more protection if the mark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The process of applying for federal protection of a mark, called “prosecution,” can be complicated, and the decision to engage knowledgeable counsel can often speed up the process and make it more likely that the mark at issue will ultimately register.
One the prosecution process ends, it is important both to maintain federal protection by making certain required post-registration filings, and to police your mark – that is, ensure that others are not using your mark or a mark that is confusingly similar. Failure to do so may lead to your loss of some or all federal trademark protection, so being vigilant and engaging counsel to assist when necessary is highly advisable.
Misappropriation of Trade Secrets
Trade secrets are a lesser known type of intellectual property. Under both federal and state law, a trade secret is defined as material that derives value from its secrecy.
Some potential trade secrets:
- Survey methods used by professional pollsters
- Internal pricing schemes and strategies
- The recipes for unique food items
- Inventions for which patent applications have not been filed
- Lists of vendors or customers
- Manufacturing techniques
- Computer algorithms
Unlike more well-known forms of intellectual property, like copyrights and trademarks, you do not need to disclose or register material in order for it to qualify for trade secret protection. All you must do is use reasonable means to keep the information secret from other companies and the public at large. Trade secret protection can also last as long as the material at issue is kept confidential. However, once you make a trade secret available to the public, trade secret protection ends. It is usually a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable attorney in order to identify material that may qualify for trade secret protection and develop an effective trade secret protection plan.
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We look forward to serving your needs.