Areas of Practice

Patent DrawingIntellectual property (IP) includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets, as well as any related licensing or litigation.

 

Patents
 

A patent protects a structure.  That structure may be a composition of matter, article of manufacture, machine, or process.  For example, a structure may be a material, physical device, method of making or doing, computer program, software architecture, or chemical process.

Obtaining a patent begins with disclosure of the invention to your patent attorney, who reviews all your information and drawings, writes the patent document, and obtains formal drawings from a qualified patent illustrator.  The application is prepared and filed with the U.S. Patent Office (PTO).  An examiner at the PTO reviews the application, searches for previous technology (prior art), and rejects the claims.  Rejections force a narrowing or clarification of the scope of protection claimed.  After negotiations, arguments, and changes worked out between the attorney and examiner, the patent is (usually) granted and can be enforced.

 

Trademarks

A trademark or service mark is a "designation of origin." It may be a name, logo or other image, slogan, song, phrase, etc. that becomes recognized as identifying your company, product, or service.  Registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) begins by filing an application.  That application will be examined by an examining attorney at the PTO who decides whether the mark is sufficiently "non-descriptive" of the goods or services to be capable of being a trademark in its own right.  The examining attorney will also search for conflicting marks that may be "confusingly similar."  After examination by a PTO examining attorney, a certificate is issued and the mark is placed on the Principal Register of the U.S. Trademark Office.

 

Copyrights

Copyright is a legal device providing the right to control how a subject work (e.g., literary work, musical work, dramatic work, or the like) is used.

Copyright extends to any original work of authorship that is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Accordingly, the two threshold requirements are originality and fixation. Copyrightable material includes literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pantomimes, choreography, graphic works, sculptural works, motion pictures, sound recordings, and architectural works.

Copyright protection may cover published or unpublished works. Copyright does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, although it may protect the way in which these things are expressed. Government works, typefaces, and works that are not sufficiently original or fixed in a tangible medium are not eligible for copyright protection.

 

Trade Secrets

Under the common-law definition, trade secrets consist of virtually any information beneficial to the business, developed by the company through the expenditure of time and effort, unknown to others in competing businesses, and which gave an advantage to the company over such competition. Trade secrets exist in nearly every business.


Trade secrets of various types can be protected. Trade secrets are often used when the matter involved cannot be patented or when a company decides that they do not wish to disclose the secret to the public in a patent. One famous example of this is the formula for Coca Cola. The most basic way to protect trade secrets is to take precaution against unauthorized discovery.

 

Litigation

A dermatologist does not perform heart surgery, so why assume any commercial litigator can litigate a patent lawsuit?  One reason for the patent specialty in the law is complex and unique patent procedures.  Also specialized knowledge of science and engineering sets us apart.  Complexities of patent law, Patent Office procedure, engineering, and technology are not for the casual tourist.  There is a reason other attorneys did not study math, physics, chemistry, and engineering in college, but we did.

First of our litigation skills is counseling with clients on how to prudently avoid it.  We can discuss intelligently your facts (good and bad), legal issues, business concerns from marketing, manufacturing, sales, and management, to motivations and strategy.  We will dig into pertinent facts from all corners.  We may pursue negotiations, alternative dispute resolution, olive branches, or stiff threats, as appropriate.  Likewise, we diligently pursue litigation in the courts when appropriate.

In patent litigation, we consistently see the benefits of knowledge and experience in writing and negotiating (i.e., prosecuting) patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).  Sometimes we file suit; sometimes we defend against a suit.  In each situation, specialized knowledge and expertise are required to educate and persuade courts.

 

How do we create and protect your intellectual property rights?

Protecting your intellectual property usually begins by consulting to determine what intellectual property you have or may have a right to own, followed by creating a patent, trademark, or copyright application, or trade secret protection process.  This may require consulting, advising, investigating facts, researching law, writing patents, preparing applications for patents, trademark registration, or copyright registration, or preparing documentation and training for protecting a trade secret.

Creating and enforcing intellectual property involve researching, writing, and filing pleadings, motions, complaints, petitions, documents, arguments, and other legal requests or responses required.  We file with state and federal courts, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), the Library of Congress (LOC), and other tribunals.  We argue and negotiate before those courts, agencies and tribunals

Technologies include almost everything in engineering, manufacturing, software, computers, medical devices and procedures, electronics, chemistry, and biotechnology.

 

Why do you need Intellectual Property Protection?

The U.S. Constitution actually provides a framework and authority for Patents and Copyrights.  It balances legitimate rights against limitations on abuse.

A favorite saying of Porter Rockwell, famous western lawman and deputy U.S. Marshal of Utah Territory in the 1800s, stated "God made men.  Colonel Colt made them equal."  Like Samuel Colt's .45 Peacemaker, intellectual property is the great competitive equalizer on the business frontier.  As a commodity, free as unbranded wild cattle of 1868 Texas, an idea has no value until captured as INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, according to law provided for that purpose.  Clients who create, understand, and value intellectual property will know that an idea cannot be protected. It can be stolen, but not sold, lost, but not owned.