California Intellectual Property Attorney
If you are seeking an intellectual property attorney in California‚ we can assist you. Mandour & Associates employs qualified and experienced intellectual property attorneys with offices in Los Angeles‚ Orange County‚ and San Diego.
In many cases‚ a business’ most valuable asset is its intellectual property (IP). Intellectual property primarily consists of patents‚ trademarks‚ copyrights‚ and trade secrets. While each type of intellectual property has its own distinct rights and requirements‚ generally speaking‚ intellectual property refers to a bundle of rights designed to protect the creations‚ inventions‚ and good will of a business.
The first step in protecting your IP begins with proper registration. Regardless of the type of intellectual property, the sooner you file your application the better. If another person registers that material first, you may be unlikely to succeed with a claim that they infringed your rights. You could even be accused of infringing on their rights.
Some of the issues that arise with intellectual property include:
- Doing a search to clear rights to be sure that your planned intellectual property does not already exist or infringe on the rights of another
- Filing the formal application to protect your intellectual property
- Being prepared to take legal action if another party infringes your IP rights, or being prepared to defend yourself if someone accuses you of infringing their rights, including the cease and desist letter process
- Being prepared to go to court when necessary
While the government does provide certain automatic levels of protection for trademarks, trade dress, copyrights and trade secrets, you’ll never receive the full benefits inherent to intellectual property registration until you file an application with the respective national agency.
Benefits of Trademark Registration
Having a trademark conveys a sense of professionalism to your potential clients. It creates an air of legitimacy that makes them more comfortable spending their money. Other benefits include:
- Ability to use the registered trademark symbol (®). This alerts others that your IP is trademarked and will be defended.
- Prevents others from registering confusingly similar trademarks.
- Potential to serve as the basis for international trademark protection.
- Creates a statutory presumption of ownership for trademark litigation.
These are just a few of the benefits of filing a timely trademark application. Check out our Trademark Registration page for more information.
Benefits of Copyright Registration
Considering the small government filing fee, registering a copyright is one of the most affordable forms of intellectual property protection. Benefits of copyright registration include:
- Protects works for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.
- Grants the ability to file lawsuits and receive compensation in federal court.
- Makes it easier for people to contact you for permission to use.
- Eligible for statutory damages and attorneys’ fees in court.
- Public record of ownership discourages potential copyright infringement.
Copyright provides some of the most extensive protections of any intellectual property. You many see our Copyright Registration page for more information.
Benefits of Patent Registration
In addition to being the only way to claim ownership over your unique invention, patent registration offers a host of other benefits for intellectual property creators.
- Prevents others from registering an invention with the same claims.
- No one can profit from your utility invention without your permission for 20 years for a utility patent, or 14 years in the case of a design patent
- Can be registered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent counterfeit items from being imported.
- Provides exclusive rights to grant usage to anyone you choose.
- Allows you to receive compensation for violation of your patent.
Unlike other forms of IP, a patent application must be filed prior to any protection. If someone comes up with the same idea after you but files a patent application before you, they will have superior rights. You can learn more on our Patent Registration page.
Benefits of Trade Secrets
The entire point of a trade secret is that it’s not registered. Instead, it must be kept secret. Benefits of trade secret protection include:
- Indefinite protection. Trade secrets never enter the public domain as long as they remain confidential.
- Trade secret protections are immediate.
- There are no registration costs.
Oftentimes trade secrets are patentable creations that you maintain as a company secret. One reason not to register something that be registered as a patent is the longer period of protection for trade secrets. You may see our trade secret page for more information.
How Long is Intellectual Property Protected?
Most types of intellectual property have a limited duration. However, trademarks and trade secrets can last indefinitely.
- Trademarks and Trade Dress: Rights are indefinite so long as the trademark is continually used and renewed.
- Copyright: Generally last the life of the creator plus 70 years. Depending on several factors, renewals may be necessary.
- Patent: Utility patents last 20 years and cannot be extended, while design patents last 14 years. Renewal fees are required to maintain a utility patent.
- Trade secret: Protection is indefinite if the secret is kept strictly confidential.
Intellectual Property Infringement
After registration, the next step in maintaining intellectual property rights is avoiding or taking quick action with respect to intellectual property infringements.
Failing to protect your trademark may have the most serious consequences of any intellectual property oversight. Your brand can be tarnished when subpar products or services are provided using your trademark or a confusingly similar one. If someone is manufacturing and selling a low-quality counterfeit, for instance, consumers can easily equate the two products in their minds. It can be difficult for a brand to recover from a blow like this. As with any other form of intellectual property violation, you’ll also experience monetary loss. For more information, you may see our trademark infringement page.
Failure to defend against copyright infringement shares some of the same problems as those that fall under patent violations. The most obvious similarity is the devaluation of your work. Unlike patent infringement, however, you may not automatically lose your claim to a copyright simply by not registering it. If you plan on defending your intellectual property rights, though, the law still requires swift action. The statute of limitations on copyright infringement is three years. However, if it’s shown that you knew about the violation and failed to take reasonable action in response to the infringement, you may lose your rights.
The most obvious issue with failing to recognize and respond to patent infringement is the devaluation of your work. If someone is making a counterfeit product based on your creation, they’re likely selling it for less than it’s worth. This can create an instance where consumers are unable to differentiate between the two products and understandably purchase the cheaper option.
Failing to protect a patent can also result in the inability to do so. The statute of limitations on patent infringement is six years, but any delays at all can damage your case.
How to Avoid Intellectual Property Violations
Some common ways to avoid intellectual property infringement include:
- Watch your competitors: If anyone can benefit from stealing your intellectual property rights – especially patents – it’s your competitors. Consistent research into the competition can help you identify violations as soon as they happen.
- Utilize search engines: When it comes to copyright infringement, Google can be your best friend. You can search for both text and images that you’ve copyrighted to see if anyone is using them without your permission. You can also input your trademark to find similar uses and visually-similar uses in the case of logo designs.
- Monitor new technologies: Keeping up with new technologies in your industry can help you identify infringements – particularly with your patents. Many violations found in this way could be completely innocent in nature, but it’s still important that you respond.
- Third-party research: While certain low-cost monitoring activities can be utilized for the different types of intellectual property, using an expert in the field – such as an intellectual property attorney – is ideal. Your IP attorney can also likely recommend the best watch vendors or may even be able to pass along an industry discount.
Intellectual Property Damages
One of the big considerations when it comes to court awards is whether the infringement was intentional. Judges understand that mistakes happen, but if it’s proven that a willful violation occurred, an infringer may be subject to punitive damages and attorney’s fees. The following information is based on the maximum award you may receive.
- Trademark infringement damages: Court awards can vary drastically when it comes to trademark infringement. These causes of action are typically focused on injunctive relief, but courts will also consider the profit attained by the infringing party and the damages suffered by the IP owner. For further information, see our trademark litigation page.
- Patent infringement damages: The amount you receive during a patent litigation trial can vary drastically as well. Courts will typically award actual damages if they can be proven. Since this is sometimes difficult to prove, though, reasonable royalties are often awarded. Injunctive relief isn’t guaranteed, so it’s smart to develop a strong case with your IP attorney from the outset.
- Copyright infringement damages: Courts will often try to award actual damages during cases of copyright infringement as well. Since these are also difficult to determine at times, statutory relief is a common outcome of copyright litigation. Intellectual property owners can be awarded up to $150,000 per violation in these instances.
In all of the aforementioned cases, willful infringement will result in much larger awards. It all comes down to the specifics of the case and your ability to uncover relevant information.
Intellectual Property Infringement Defenses
Common defenses in intellectual property cases include:
- Trademark: The most common defense in a trademark case is claiming that consumers are not likely to be confused between the two trademarks.
- Patent: Patent infringement claims may be thrown out if the patent is proven to be invalid or if all elements of at least one claim have not been infringed.
- Copyright: Claims of copyright infringement may be invalid if the suspected infringing work was created independently.
Mandour & Associates – California Intellectual Property Attorneys
If you need assistance in protecting your intellectual property in California‚ we can help. Our experienced and qualified intellectual property attorneys have aided clients in acquiring patent‚ trademark‚ and copyright registration. Furthermore‚ if you have been sued or believe that someone is infringing your intellectual property‚ our attorneys can help you protect your rights.
Practicing exclusively in the area of intellectual property‚ our attorneys are ready to assist you. Please contact us for assistance.