Technology Attorneys

Identifying Your Company’s IP

We live in a world that is greatly influenced by technological advancements; business, health, education are just some of the spheres where we have witnessed revolutions. One of the more obvious changes is in business with automation, big data, machine learning, etc. But more interestingly, corporate value has evolved from the physical to the digital. Nowadays, your company’s value can literally lie in your Intellectual Property (IP).

Tech companies are created to meet the ever-growing demand for technology products. They offer a range of products and services that make it easy for individuals, organizations, and countries to adapt to the high-tech world that is our modern reality. To offer the best services, they have to protect their IP. But protecting their IP can only happen when said IP has been identified and registered. So, if you are looking to identify and protect your tech company’s IP, then you might want to read this article to the end.

List Company Products and Services

This allows you to create a list of your company offerings or product lines. It might be a tasking and time-consuming operation, but it is worthwhile in the long run as you will be able to identify all the IP in your business. Especially those that you didn’t know about. Your company offerings can either be products or services. 

  • Products: These are made to sell or gift. Products are tangible and easily identified.
  • Services Are more intangible are often rendered to customers. Services are often in the form of gene knots, software-as-service or technology consulting. In most cases, services go hand-in-hand with products. It all depends on what your tech company is about.

Categorize

The next step is to categorize your tech company’s products and services. While this is not exhaustive, here is a description of the main categories of IP.

  • Trademark: This can cover the company name, logo, slogan or the names of products and services. Trademarks are designed to separate your company’s offerings from others in the market. They are your corporate identity and should be protected at all costs.
  • Patents: This coversinventions. Registered patents give your company the right to exploit the invention within the time frame specified in the patent registration.  Patent law is a specialty within IP and you should consult a patent attorney to see if your invention can be registered and whether a patent or provisional patent is for you.
  • Trade secrets: They are considered as the alternative to patents and are mutually exclusive.  The best example of a trade secret is the Coca Cola recipe.
  • Copyright: Copyright protection covers tangible expressions of ideas. The product has to be original. Your company software and computer programs fall into this category. Review the categorizations so that you know where your offerings fall into. Be sure to put them in the right category because this will affect the way the IP is protected.

Assess 

A strategic assessment of your assets and protection will help your business in its valuations and get it ready for sale, if that’s your direction.  Too broad of an IP portfolio might be costly and hard to maintain running the risk that your important IP may fall through the cracks in terms of maintenance and policing.

You want to assess what is key to your brand and you should do so on an ongoing basis.

Assess Your Intellectual Property

Protect Your Intellectual Property

What’s in a Name? EVERYTHING!

Congratulations on your decision to start a new business (and your subconscious decision to forego sleep…)!  Deciding on a business name might very well be the most important decision you make; it can make the difference between a strong branding campaign or perhaps (gasp!) having to change your name.

You name/brand will, of course, be your product or service name, but also your domain name and often your corporate name (you are incorporating, right?).

So, before you choose your name, consider the following:

  • Choose a Unique Name
  • Make the Name Brief
  • Make the name memorable and easy to spell

1) Choose a Unique Name. When you select a business name you are really branding your business.  Branding isn’t just for the big boys, it is crucial to any business as it can give you a competitive edge in the marketplace.  After all, you need to make it easy to find you.  A brand is “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”  In other works, a trademark.

2) Make the name brief (three to six words).  Long names are hard for customers to remember.  You want customers to remember the name AND be able to tell other people what it is. It is also important that the name be short for promotional purposes e.g. domain names, business cards, displays or advertising ads. Which can ultimately save you on cost for advertising, printing, etc.

Try to make the name descriptive of your product or services, but not too descriptive.  If the name is descriptive it can actually draw business to itself.  It makes it easier for potential customers to identify the type of business and locate you, especially if you are just starting out.  On the other hand, if it is too descriptive, you run the risk that the trademark office might reject your trademark application.

4) Make the name memorable and easy to spell.  Potential customers need to be able to remember your business name. They also need to be able to find it easily if they’re looking for it online or in a phone directory.

There are legal implications to consider when selecting a name for your business.  You must make sure to avoid misleading names.  Avoid names that are similar to other companies as to avoid any trademark implications.  Also, do not imply professional credentials that do not exist for example if you are in the health care field but are not a medical doctor do not include MD in the name meaning to imply such.

Once you have a name in mind it is best to research the potential name to make sure it is not already in use.  There are several was to research potential business names.  Some suggestions are:

  1. Popular Search Engines
  2. Patent and Trademark Office
  3. Local business directories in your market (public library or business license offices).
  4. Department of State

 

IMPORTANT:  Just because the domain name is available and/or the name is available with your department of state does NOT mean there isn’t a concern for trademark infringement.  We will talk more about this later, but it is important to research the name or consult a trademark attorney before settling on a name.

Contact Us Today Regarding Your Intellectual Property

 

PROTECTING A BRAND ONLINE AND WHY THE CHATTER MATTERS

According to the definition by the American Marketing Association, the legal term for brand is a trademark.  While that may be true, and brand may not be possible without a trademark, a brand should be viewed as more than that.  Saying that a brand is a trademark seems too passive, as if merely registering a mark, or marks, is enough to maintain one’s brand.  On the contrary, the owner of a brand has to be very active in building and policing that brand in order to build up good will in that brand and its marks, increase value in the market and avoid losing those marks and/or market share in the marketplace.  In this article, we will explore the steps a brand owner needs to take in order to build and protect their brand online with the advent of social media.

The first step to brand protection is to own the intellectual property.  While the laws of the Internet are sometimes slow to progress, protection of intellectual property is the best offensive to protecting the brand online.  While one way to do that is to register the trademarks, such as name, logo or slogan, another great protection is copyright registration.  Whether it is to register articles, blog posts, designs or even the website, copyright protection is part of protecting the brand offering and another line of attack against infringers.

Why is brand protection so important?  It is easy to get lost in the massive amounts of information online, but at the same time, it can also be easy to differentiate from the rest through effective branding.  Social media and social networking are especially suited to developing and maintaining the brand.  Done the right way, connect to consumers, build a following and then remain relevant as the market changes.  Doing so will help create customer loyalty and make it easier to sell existing and new products and services. At the same time, it can control any likelihood of confusion in the marketplace with other products, avoid dilution and more importantly genericide, and even control the cost of marketing.  Branding online can also make it easier to quantify the return on investment.  Social media allows one to monitor online campaigns. By using certain tools one can see what is and is not working in the online marketing strategy and make changes accordingly.

The effects of not monitoring the brand or letting someone else dictate how the brand is portrayed online can be devastating to the company.  It is unnecessary to point out how every marketing dollar counts.  The effects of brand abuse will bring a decline in revenue and more marketing dollars to offset the damage.  Moreover, by allowing competitors or even consumers to use the mark generically or in ways that are not unique to the brand, can risk the mark getting cancelled in the Trademark Office for becoming generic.  Next time you have a headache and turn to your trusty aspirin, take a moment and consider that aspirin was once a trademark.

Examples of Brand Abuse:

  • Keyword or PPC Abuse;
  • Cybersquatting;
  • Defamation;
  • False Association, etc.

Contact Us Today to Talk about Your Brand Protection