Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is property developed from one’s mind, imagination, ingenuity, creativity or experimentation. Intellectual Property Rights California is the area of the law that provides for protection of intellectual property and the rights of those who create original works in the state of California. Intellectual property also consists of original plays and novels as well as inventions and company identification marks. The purpose of these laws is to encourage the development of new technologies and inventions while also stimulating the economy.

Sub-Categories

Computer Law

While many may be familiar with “hacking” from watching their favorite television shows or reading popular crime novels, a broader variety of activities may qualify as computer crimes. California state laws include provisions intended to protect the computers, computer systems, and computer networks of individuals, businesses, and organizations across the state. California criminalizes many computer-related activities that affect the functionality, use, or confidentiality of computer data, computers, computer systems, and computer networks. An individual who accesses a computer, computer system, or computer network and alters, disrupts, deletes, destroys, or otherwise changes any part may be charged with a computer crime. The applicable type of computer crime depends on the defendant’s purpose for engaging in the unlawful access. For example, a prosecutor may need to show that the defendant wanted to execute a plan for deception, fraud, or extortion, or to take control of information, money, or property that did not belong to the defendant. Other computer crimes focus on access made to introduce a computer virus or contaminant for harmful purposes. In addition, California state laws criminalize the unauthorized taking or copying of data and information from a computer, computer system, or computer network. For example, this type of computer crime might apply to an individual who takes computerized business records from an organization or an employee who copies work product from an employer’s computer network without permission.

Copyright Law

Copyright law is one of the most misunderstood areas of the law from lawyers without professional or specialized knowledge of copyright cases, as well as many attorneys. Active Law Group is experienced in handling copyright infringement cases and is one of the relatively few firms that have actually taken a copyright infringement lawsuit to verdict. Creation of Copyright Under the Copyright Act of 1976, any original work of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression can receive copyright protection. This protection attaches to the work as soon as it has been “fixed” by being written down, recorded, or embodied in some other reasonably stable and permanent way. Since 1989, a work no longer needs to contain a copyright notice for it to have copyright protection. However, placing proper notice and registering one’s work with the United States Copyright Office can prove beneficial should a dispute later arise. Copyrights and trademarks are different creatures under the law. Copyright law is generally associated with some original expression of ideas, such as artwork, fashion and jewelry design, photography, sculpture, software, music and lyrics, screenplays, novels, books, etc. Trademark law deals with protecting symbols, for example, the Nike “swoosh,” words, devices, and sounds to identify a particular product, manufacturer, or service. Sometimes the law of copyright and trademark will protect a single product at the same time. Rights A copyright holder possesses several exclusive rights to that work and has the additional right to sell, transfer, or license any, or all of these exclusive rights to someone else. In the case of work created by an employee for an employer, the employer is considered the author. Infringement upon any of the following rights can give rise to a copyright infringement lawsuit:
  1. The right to reproduce, or copy the work
  2. The right to adapt the work to create a new work (called derivative work)
  3. The right to distribute the work, or copies of the work
  4. The right to publicly perform, or display the work, including putting it on the Internet
  5. Infringement
Either the copyright owner, or the owner of an infringed exclusive license can sue for copyright infringement. To prove the infringement of one, or more exclusive rights, the plaintiff must show the alleged infringer had access to the original work. This includes situations where an employee involved with creating an infringing work had access to view the original work, or if the original work was widely distributed to the public. Infringement occurs when the two works are “substantially similar,” proof of which is broadly defined by the courts. To establish substantial similarity, the plaintiff must generally prove an ordinary reasonable person would conclude a defendant has appropriated the original work. The plaintiff must also prove that its work was substantially taken, either quantitatively, or qualitatively. For example, a competitor could copy just one aspect of a company’s work and be liable for infringement if it is an identifiable, or important aspect of the work. Infringement can also be indirect if the indirect infringer knew about the infringement and materially contributed to it in some way. Alternately, vicarious infringement can occur when a party has the right and ability to supervise the infringing activity and a direct, or indirect financial interest in the activities.

Patent Law

In an economy that thrives on advances in technology, patents are one of the most valuable assets to a modern business. Far too often an inventor develops an innovative new product, only to lose the rights to it because they failed to secure the protection they need to prevent others from appropriating it. A patent allows you to enjoy a monopoly in the ability to make, use, and sell an innovative product for a period of time.

The patent experts at Active Law Group, handle all aspects of utility, design, and provisional patents, including:

  • Competitive patent tracking services;
  • Patent infringement investigation and protection; and
  • Patent validity/invalidity investigations.
  • Patent application preparation and prosecution for both the United States and internationally (PCT, EPO, and country-specific);
  • Patentability Investigations, including prior art searches of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and searches of foreign patent agencies;
  • Patent licensing;
  • Patent portfolio management;
  • Maintenance and renewal services (domestic and foreign);

The importance of granting monopolies for new inventions has been recognized in the United States since the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. In Article I, section 8, the U.S. Constitution:

Congress shall have power . . . To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

Patents in the United States are governed by the Patent Act (35 U.S. Code), which established the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the USPTO). The most common type of patent is a utility patent. Utility patents have a duration of twenty years from the date of filing, but are not enforceable until the day of issuance. Design patents protect ornamental designs. Plant patents protect new varieties of asexually reproducing plants. 

To obtain protection under U.S. law, the applicant must submit a patent application to the USPTO, where it will be reviewed by an examiner to determine if the invention is patentable. U.S. law grants to patentees the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention.

Trademarks

A trademark is a type of intellectual property consisting of a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others, although trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks. If you are seeking a trademark attorney‚ Active Law Group can assist you. Trademarks are a form of intellectual property (IP) that identify and distinguish your products and services from others on the market. Trademark can come in the form of words, phrases, symbols or logos. Use of a trademark allows a brand to define itself and discourages unfair competition.  It’s important to note that violations against a trademark don’t just affect the trademark owner. Consumers are also hurt in these situations. Trademark infringement can confuse people who expect certain levels of quality in their purchases. THE BASICS OF TRADEMARKS Many people don’t realize it, but a trademark is protected as intellectual property even if it’s not registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). By merely using a unique phrase, logo, or other form of trademark, you’re afforded certain protections under federal and state law. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apply for a trademark. TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT Going through the process of trademark registration is an essential element of trademark protection. Unfortunately, it doesn’t guarantee that your trademark won’t be infringed upon. Whether a violation is willful or simply due to negligence, it’s likely you’ll encounter such a problem one day.  A recent study by Compumark found that roughly 80% of businesses experience trademark infringements yearly. Most trademark infringement issues, whether you’re protecting your trademark or accused of infringing, relate to the likelihood of confusion.

TRADEMARK LITIGATION

THE TRADEMARK TRIAL AND APPEAL BOARD (THE TTAB) Trademark lawsuits can be filed in a court or with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.  In this type of case, either a Notice of Opposition is filed against a pending trademark application, or a Petition to Cancel is filed against an existing trademark registration.  The case then proceeds like a streamlined version of a federal lawsuit. We have extensive experience with these types of cases.  Contact Active Law Group today for a FREE Consultation. 

Entertainment Law

Have You Been Victimized By Unauthorized Commercialization?

California law protects private individuals and celebrities — living or deceased — from unauthorized commercial use of their names and likenesses in connection with the sale of merchandise. If a person or company has misappropriated your name or likeness for a commercial purpose, you have legal rights and may be entitled to financial compensation.

If you believe you’ve been wronged, I can evaluate your case and determine the best course of action for seeking a remedy.

You Have the Right to Your Name!

Whether you’re a private individual or a celebrity, your name and likeness are precious commodities. If anyone profits from your image, it should be you. Unfortunately, unauthorized uses do occur — and they can cause you embarrassment, humiliation and loss in the commercial value of your name and likeness.

As an experienced Active Law Group intellectual property lawyer, I can help you fight unauthorized use and know how to pursue a remedy appropriate to your situation. Here are some of your options:

  • Licensing agreement You can negotiate to license your image for commercial use at a fair price, which can be a mutually profitable arrangement.
  • Court injunction A court injunction can be sought to forbid the infringing use pending a preliminary decision on the matter or decision on the merits.
  • Statutory damages California law allows you to sue for actual damages or $750 in damages for each unauthorized use, whichever is greater.
  • Actual damages You are entitled to recover the actual damages you suffered as a result of the unauthorized use of your work. You may also be able to recoup profits from the unauthorized use that were not taken into account when calculating your actual damages.
  • Punitive damages In appropriate cases, punitive damages — damages that are intended to punish the wrongdoer — may be awarded.
  • Prevailing party attorneys’ fees and expenses — The prevailing party may be awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses.