Intellectual Property Lawyers
States where our Intellectual Property Attorneys can Assist you
Intellectual property (IP) is an essential part of our economy. It's what drives innovation, what enables creative minds, engineers, scientists and others to make a living at what they do. It's the heart and soul of the idea that if you create something, it's yours.
It is, then, perhaps not surprising that we have complicated laws, regulations, and divisions regarding intellectual property. Here you can explore the different types of IP and how you can find the best intellectual property attorneys to protect your valuable brands, marks, copyrights, and patents.
Why Hire an Intellectual Property Lawyer?
Protecting your intellectual property doesn't end with filing or registering with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or Copyright Office. You will need to continue defending your IP well into the future. This is one of the main reasons to hire an intellectual property lawyer. Here are some of the other reasons that you should consider hiring an intellectual property lawyer:
- Value: An intellectual property lawyer can help determine the value of your IP. Remember, you're protecting not just what matters to you, but what might matter to others as well. Certain types of intellectual property will have more value than others. For example, the IP of a large multinational business is more at risk for infringement than the IP of a small, locally owned business.
- Education: An important part of defending your intellectual property is understanding IP laws. This is another benefit of having an IP lawyer. Your lawyer can inform you about copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and patents, and how they apply to your business. A full understanding of copyright law will help you protect your intellectual property more effectively. Also, learn whether you need a trademark or a service mark.
- Identifying Assets: Your lawyer can clearly identify all of your potential intellectual property assets, from copyrights to trademarks to patents.
- Searching Patents: Your attorney will be able to search multiple IP databases. This can include logging onto Google Patent Search and doing a quick search for related patents. Your lawyer will also be able to search more advanced databases, including those focused on international patents. This will help you find out whether your IP is available for a patent.
- Writing Non-Disclosure Agreements: You can work with your attorney to craft strong non-disclosure agreements and ensure that all of your licenses, contracts, agreements and other corporate paperwork support your IP.
- Securing Your IP: Your attorney can file an application that acts as a placeholder while you pursue registration.
Your intellectual property lawyer can also help you understand the different types of IP. When it comes to business owners, there are four basic types of intellectual property about which you must be aware. These are:
- Trade Secrets
Each of these covers a different type of creation, from works of authorship to inventions and processes to providing your business with a competitive edge. Your intellectual property attorney will have you basic information about these types of intellectual property, which can include:Copyrights
Copyrights protect what are known as "works of authorship." This includes literature, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, music, computer software, television shows, movies, architecture, graphic arts, sculptures, choreography, theater, and other works of creativity.
Holding a copyright allows you to prevent others from reprinting, selling, sharing, displaying, distributing, performing or using your creation in any way without your express written permission.
Copyrights don't necessarily have to be registered; under the law, a work is copyrighted the moment it is created. However, registering copyrights can provide extra protection should you need to defend your work against infringement by another person. You'll want to find the top intellectual property attorneys in your area to make sure you have the best representation to defend your copyrights when necessary.Patents
Patents are vital to protecting your competitive edge. They allow you to stop anyone else from manufacturing, selling, using or offering your invention for sale. Patents come in three varieties: the utility patent, the design patent and the plant patent.
The most common of these is the utility patent, which covers machines, mathematical processes, manufactured items, or compositions of chemicals or other matter, and any improvements of those. Design patents cover new and ornamental designs for manufactured items, and plant patents cover new varieties of plant that are asexually reproduced in controlled conditions.
A patented invention has to be unique, non-obvious, and useful. This means it has to be original, unlike anything that has come before. It has to represent a leap of innovation that isn't simply a logical step anyone could take, and it has to solve a problem in a useful way. Most patents are physical creations, but they can also protect processes, which are those acts, methods or operations that drive something forward.
Filing and maintaining a patent can be an expensive, complicated and time-consuming process which requires not only fees during the patent process, but fees to maintain the patent, and extensive research to ensure that your patent doesn't closely match any others on file. Missing a single detail can cost you not only time and money, but your patent approval. That's why it's vital, perhaps more than any other area of IP law, to find a top intellectual property lawyer to represent and help you with the process.Trademarks
Trademarks, essentially, protect your business branding. These are those designs, words, phrases, and symbols that distinguish you from competitors and give you a brand edge. They include things such as the Nike swoosh and the McDonald's "golden arches." In fact, the names "Nike" and "McDonald's" are also trademarks.
Trademark rights begin when you start using a design, word, etc., in commerce, but registering your trademark gives you a much stronger leg to stand on in court, should you have to later defend your mark from someone else trying to confuse or dilute your brand with one that's too similar.
Registering a trademark requires a clear example of the mark, an identifier of the classification of goods and services for which you'll use it, and the fees you must pay depend on a number of factors. The more classes of goods and services you name, the more expensive the mark will be.
The process includes proving that there are no other trademarks like yours, and it can be a complex one, requiring the help of an IP lawyer. Above all else, you'll have to establish the strength of your trademark, that it is truly distinctive from others. The more distinctive your mark is, the better the chance will be that you'll be able to successfully register it. This is why it's so important to seek the services of the best intellectual property attorneys for help.Trade Secrets
Trade secrets are the most fragile of intellectual property protections. They are those secrets that give you a competitive edge over others. Everything from survey results to customer lists and even computer programs can be trade secrets. The secret formula for Coca-Cola, Google's search algorithm, and KFC's secret herb-and-spice blend are trade secrets.
You can't register a trade secret as such, since registering would require you to reveal the secret, and once that's done you lose protection. The only way to protect a trade secret is to keep it secret. Once it's revealed, you can potentially sue for damages against those who leaked it, but you can no longer gain protection over the secret.
In fact, there's a concept that every patent should be a trade secret until the patent application is filed. This is a solid idea, and will serve to further protect your invention when the time comes.
How to Find the Best Intellectual Property Lawyer
Many people who need an intellectual property lawyer are worried that they will be unable to find one easily. Fortunately, finding an intellectual property lawyer is simple when you have the right tips. To find the best intellectual property lawyer, you can:
- Use an Online Service: There are multiple online legal services that help connect people with qualified lawyers. Using one of these services is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to find an IP lawyer. You also may be able to find an attorney at a much more affordable price than you would by searching through more traditional means.
- Consult the Bar Association: The bar association in your area can be an invaluable resource when trying to find an intellectual property lawyer. When you check with the bar association, you will be able to find a list of intellectual property lawyers in your state and city, as well as their contact information. The bar association is a great starting point for finding an intellectual property lawyer.
- Ask Other Businesses: Virtually every business has some form of intellectual property. This means you can ask other businesses in your area about their experiences hiring an intellectual property lawyer. While you should avoid speaking with competitors, getting references from other business can be a great way to find an intellectual property lawyer.
Questions for Your Intellectual Property Attorney
As you can see, establishing and protecting intellectual property is a complicated process. Your best bet for ensuring that this happens is to contact a qualified intellectual property attorney in your area. However, it can be difficult finding one if you've never done so before. Fortunately, with the right tips, you'll be able to find the right attorney for your intellectual property.
The first step in finding an outstanding IP lawyer is to find a database of the best IP attorneys in your city. Once you have a solid list at your disposal, you can narrow down your choices by need. Consider the following:
- What are your needs? Are you filing a patent, copyright or mark; are you seeking to challenge someone else's property; or do you need to aggressively defend your property? Is the attorney willing to talk about your needs? Good attorneys will be willing to consult about your case and will let you know if they're not right for you. After all, their reputations are on the line as much as your property.
- Ask for references and testimonials. The top attorneys will be happy to provide references from successful cases and satisfied clients.
- Look for legacy and qualifications. How long have the attorneys been in business? Do they have a legacy of case wins and satisfied clients? Do they have a solid rating with the BBB? Are they members of professional organizations? More specifically, do they have a history of handling cases like yours?
- Is the attorney local? You'll be spending a lot of time with your attorney, so make sure he or she is conveniently located.
- What Can I Expect to Pay? You may not have tons of money, but it's rarely a good idea to go with the cheapest option. You should be prepared for the eventuality that IP law can sometimes be costly. This can be particularly true if you have to defend challenges to your patent or trademark. If you're able to secure your IP, it will be well worth the cost.
At UpCounsel, we maintain a detailed database of the top attorneys in their field, and they're always available for your one-time or ongoing needs. If you're looking for help with intellectual property protection, registration or legal counsel, log on and check out how we can help today!
On UpCounsel, you can find and connect with top-rated intellectual property attorneys & lawyers that provide a range of intellectual property law services for startups to large businesses. Any of the top-rated intellectual property lawyers you connect with will be available to help with a variety of your IP legal needs on-demand or on an ongoing basis.
From protecting your intellectual property such as an invention, business name, trade secret, and more, securing your IP with trademarks, patents, and copyrights is very important, yet can be quite complex and require the expertise of an intellectual property attorney to help you successfully protect your IP from possible infringement and/or help you fight another party who has infringed on your IP and recoup damages. No matter what type of IP needs you have, you can easily find, connect with, and hire an intellectual property lawyer on UpCounsel who can help you today.
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