Technology Attorneys

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery?

Five Things You Can Do When You Don’t Feel So Flattered

Combatting counterfeiters

Counterfeits are product imitations sold by counterfeiters using a brand’s name without the company’s permission. It spans various industries, but the most affected are pharmaceuticals, electronics, and apparel, especially clothes, handbags, and jewelry pieces.

Having counterfeits of your product can ruin the product’s integrity and also the brand’s reputation. This is because when products that look like yours do not provide the right quality expected by the customers, it leads to reduced sales and negatively affects brand reputation.

Therefore, it is vital to combat counterfeiting. Here are 5 ways to do this

Secure global protection of IP

Depending on your products, you need to secure a copyright, patent, or trademark to prevent others from reproducing your products without permission. Secure the products where you live, and also register your products in other countries the counterfeiters might be operating. Familiar with the Madrid Protocol? We will talk about it in other blog posts.

Monitor the market

Another way to combat counterfeiting is by searching for counterfeits online. You should include this in your budget because product cloning happens oftentimes. In other words, you must be prepared. Search for counterfeiters in places they might exist. If you deal more in online products, employ someone to search online stores for unauthorized sellers. In addition, avoid using too many channels to advertise or sell your products. That way, you can quickly identify the unauthorized sites making money through the sales of your products.

Use technology

To identify the people counterfeiting your products, you need the best technologies to monitor product movement in various parts of the world. These technologies make it easy to identify counterfeits by creating a pattern on the packaging that can be detected to show that the product is original. Another way this can be done is by adding nano-optic images to your product.

Involve your customers

Get your customers involved in identifying these counterfeits and reporting them. This is one good way to let your customers know that you are genuinely interested in their well-being. In addition, these customers will never have a wrong impression of your brand even if they have mistakenly purchased counterfeits. Inform your buyers through your product label on how to identify and confirm your product. 

Employ brand consistency

If you are always changing your brand products, you’re making it susceptible to counterfeiters. You must ensure that your packaging is consistent; this helps the customer quickly identify the fake ones. Although fake products sometimes look exactly like the original ones, customers can notice errors if you have been consistent with your branding.

Conclusion

Product counterfeits do not take away sales meant for your company; it also exposes your customers to the dangers of using products that might harm their health. However, using the methods listed above can help in combatting counterfeits and increase customer retention rate. 

Copyright vs. Trademark, what’s the difference?

The term Copyright and Trademark are both intellection property protections that have often be used in place of each other.

What are Copyright and Trademark? 

Copyright protects the original work of creative individuals like movies, songs, novels, and software.

Trademark, on the other hand, protects brand names, slogans, and logos. This is perfect for brands that do not want their names or slogan copied and used by any other firm. 

What are the differences between copyright and Trademark?

Some of the key differences between Copyright and Trademark include the following:

Process of Protection

Your works can be copyrighted using the following method:

  • Properly mark your work using a signature or a watermark.
  • Using Creative Commons, which offers creative copyright license for free
  • Adding the copyright symbol that shows your work is an intellectual property not to be used by anyone. 
  • Officially registering your work with the Copyright office in your country of origin. This requires the payment of a fee, after which you will receive a certificate. 

Trademarks, on the other hand, are registered through the federal or state government. It often involves extensive registration to get legal protection for your business properties.

Before trademarking, you must do research to ensure that no company is currently using the branded materials. 

Length of protection

Copyright protects creative works belonging to an individual. As an individual, you can create these works and copyright them immediately. Note that it has to be completed in physical forms. This implies that you cannot copyright an idea or principle. Also, works with expired copyright cannot be re-copyrighted. You’ll find these kinds of works in the public domain, especially those published a long time ago. For example, the U.S. refers to works published before 1923 as public domain work, which means it’s for the public’s general consumption. An author’s works using their original name have a copyright that lasts throughout their life and an additional 70 years. Suppose it’s created under a pseudonym and lasts from 95-120 years after creation. After this time, it becomes a public domain.

Trademark registration, on the other hand, has no expiry date. The only difficulty that is experienced in this is the process and time required to complete your registration. This varies from country to country.

Finally, although copyright and trademarks are key ways of protecting your intellectual properties, they vary in so many ways, as listed above. 

Talk to us about how we can help you PROTECT your intellectual property.

Understanding the UDRP Process

In the last few years, disputes and conflicts surrounding domain names have become a common occurrence and are often required to be resolved legally. This article takes a detailed look at the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy aimed at resolving dispute.

Read to find out more.

What Is the UDRP

 The Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) is a legal framework established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The UDRP regulates the domain name industry and tends to the resolution of conflicts encountered in the acquisition and use of internet domain names.

 The Need for the UDRP

Domain names are identity markers in the virtual world, an internet representation of a personal or business brand’s unique identity. Disputes are bound to occur in the process of acquiring, registering, or transferring domain names; legal rights to a particular domain name might be claimed by two opposing parties.

There have also been cases of inadvertent purchase of stolen domain names or fraudulent registration. A stolen domain name is tantamount and equally important as a stolen physical identity.

A domain name is significant intellectual property, and thus disputes regarding it are required to be resolved through appropriate legal channels, hence the need for the UDRP.

The UDRP caterers for the generic top-level domains, which include the .com, .info, .biz, .net, .org, and the country code top-level domains that have adopted the UDRP Policy.

Understanding the UDRP Process

If you have had your domain stolen, been defrauded in the course of registering a domain name or have been a victim of domain name squatting, or any other form of domain name dispute, you have the right to lay a complaint against the registrant (the one charged with an abusive registration).

The complainant would first hire an accredited UDRP service provider, which could cost between 1000 and 2000 USD. It is important to know that In line with the dispute resolution policy, every complainant, through his resolution service provider, must establish the following:

  1. The domain name in question is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
  2. The registrant does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the domain name; and
  3. The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith [as determined by several factors]

The UDRP proceedings follow in an administrative panel with a thorough consideration of the factors and view the case at hand through the lens of established laws and policies as regards domain name registration and protection.

The final verdict dictates who maintains the legal rights to the domain name in question. The advantage of tendering domain disputes to the UDRP over the customary law is that it is faster and costs less. If the complainant doesn’t get a satisfactory verdict, he or she might go-ahead to challenge the verdict and file a lawsuit against the registrant in a standard court of law.

Conclusion

UDRP is vital in preventing identity theft or in business situations, a theft of clients. It enables the protection of a personal or business domain name. As mentioned above it also caterers for generic top-level domains which include the .com, .info, .biz, .net, .org, and the country code top-level domains that have adopted the UDRP Policy.

Guidelines for Better IP Budgeting

Intellectual Property is undisputedly a popular word in the business cycle. Once considered a luxury to now a necessity, the manner in which companies see intellectual Property has evolved over time.

However, due to the complexities involved, developing a budget for your IP can be difficult and involve a rigorous process even to the most seasoned professionals.

The main considerations when drawing a budget for your IP: application fees and legal costs. You should also be aware of the life cycle of each type of IP.  They are not all lifetime registrations.  Your IP attorney should walk you through ongoing maintenance of trademarks, copyrights and patents.  They should also have docketing software to make sure they let you know about important dates.

Like protecting any property, you want to make sure that you have a good fence to make sure the copycats can’t get in.  What is important to your brand, which part of your brand will you expand, do you see yourself in other countries?  These are all important questions.  Based on your budget, you need to make sure you have the most protection, you can always hone in later.

This is why all businesses must put in place some best practices to improve IP budgeting; some of these guidelines include the following:

  • Pay Attention to Legal Expenses: From its inception, protection, ongoing maintenance, and management, the lifecycles of your IP assets will be covered by legal services that come with associated costs. Most IP attorneys will charge flat fees for most of the prosecution phase.  Be aware of the online filing services, they merely file, they won’t help you with strategy.
  • Establish A Review Routine: Frequent audits of your IP assets help review your costs and ensure reduced expenses. This also helps organizations make a better decision, meet the business need, and balance cost while focusing on opportunities to make profits. 
  • Organize your portfolio: If you are strategic with your spending, it is vital toorganize your portfolio. A lot of redundancies, errors, and costs will arise when enterprises do not pay attention to their intellectual property portfolio. The manual route may not be the most effective with all the spreadsheets, file folders, and banker boxes. Therefore, all organizations must create room for improved portfolio management through the use of modern-day technology. 

Takeaway 

IP budgeting can be a complicated process for the uninitiated. However, having a viable budget helps in cost management and strategic IP protection. It is essential to the growth of modern enterprises because a strong brand can help you differentiate yourself from the rest of your competitors.

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

Best Practices of a Contract with Your Web Developer

Now more than ever, we live in a world where digitization has made web and application development essential aspects of just about everything: education, business, health and even law, among other fields.

Due to this, owning a web presence is just as important, if not more, as owning a physical one. This is why a lot of web/applications are contracted out to developers in order to ensure that the enterprise keeps up with the trend of digitization.

Independent Contractor Agreements are often part and parcel of web/application development. Or, your developer may have their own agreement that they’d like you to sign.  Either way, this legal document aims to ensure that your expectations and those of the web/application developer are fully captured.  As well, as any future rights in your intellectual property.

To get a well-written contract, you need to understand the best practices associated with it. Read on to find out what they are.

Create Milestones

Avoid handing over all the requirements to the web/app developer and letting them go at their own pace. Create milestones for the total lifecycle of the project. It helps with tracking and modularity. You can get a bird’s eye view of the functional parts of your project so you can easily identify issues and possibilities in the course of the development process.

Creating milestones can also help you tie the milestones with payment.  At each milestone, there is a stop of sorts where you evaluate the progress.  If you are satisfied, payment is made and then off to the next phase!

Pay attention to security.

It would be best if you established a secure means of transferring information and a level of access control your sensitive data. Please pay attention to the security measures and protocols that the web/application developer uses and how they plan on managing your data. Ensure that they understand your security concerns, and they possess the capability to handle them.

Proper Scope and Documentation

Since you will be working with a third-party ensure that there is proper scope and documentation. This prevents misinformation that can derail the project. Documenting your scope also ensures that there is clarity and transparency in the discussions. It also provides a reference point during and after the web/application development process has been completed.

Proper documentation will also ensure that you have the flexibility to move to other vendors or add anything additional to your product without needing a lot of knowledge transfer.

By setting out clear goals and scope, you reduce the amount of discussions around what is included in the engagement and what would be considered out of scope for the project.

Outlining clear expectations between you and your developer.

Fix the Money Matters

 This is where you decide on the financial aspect of the contract. Be clear on what you are willing to pay for your expectations. Determine events that might trigger payments like milestones. Discuss the impact on out of scope requirements, or issues that crop up unexpectedly. 

These out of scope or change orders might come with an hourly rate or a decided fixed rate as you move through the project.

Establish Clear Communication Channels

This is essential because proper communication channels facilitate understanding between parties, eliminates delays and increases the chances of creating a great project. Clear communication channels also ensure that you are in the loop about the process and that you can actively participate at all stages in the process.

Generally, this is called a PMO or a project management office which can be critical in larger projects where points of escalation may be needed as well as frequent meetings between stakeholders. 

Make Sure You Own it!

Did you know, that intellectual property belongs to the person who CREATES it?  NOT the person who bought it.  It is a common misconception that if you bought something that you own it.

You need to make sure that the contract clearly states that any intellectual property is assigned to you. 

Here, wording can get tricky between ‘work made for hire’ (and this isn’t self-explanatory, even I look up the statute every now and again to refresh my memory) and an assignment.

Here is a tip:  if you are getting a low quote than what you thought, it is probably because you are not getting the intellectual property.

Which means, you will not be able to take it anywhere else, to anyone else or in simple terms, do what you want with your website or other project deliverables.

Takeaway

Outsourcing your web/application need is imperative because of the benefits attached. Understanding the best practices involved in the contracting of your web/application development will help you go about it the right way.

 

Rather than do it yourself, why not engage an attorney to help you negotiate the right terms of the agreement.

Consult with Us on Your Next Contract

We have been servicing the technology industry for over 15 years

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