Knowing about trademark law could make all the difference when it comes to making your brand stand out with consumers—and having the protection you need against competitors. Here, Ron Ventola, a registered patent attorney who practices intellectual property law at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, breaks down the basics.
1. What is intellectual property law?
It’s the law of ideas. It protects inventions, product designs, creative works, brand names, and confidential information.
2. What can intellectual property law do for my business?
Some businesses can use copyright law to protect creative works or use patent law to protect inventions or ornamental product designs. Many businesses can use the law of trade secrets to protect confidential information. Every business can use trademark law to create and protect its brand. Every business also must respect others’ intellectual property rights to avoid the risk of litigation.
3. How can I use trademark law in my business?
A trademark is a name or logo associated with a product or service from a particular source; for example, Tide detergent or McDonald’s restaurant services. (Product packaging can sometimes serve as a trademark.) To take best advantage of trademark law, you should select a distinctive trademark. Once you start using your trademark, you should monitor the marketplace to make sure no one else has begun using a trademark that is confusingly similar to yours. An attorney can guide you and help you avoid wasted effort and the risk of liability.
4. Can I copy text or photographs from this website? It doesn’t say that it’s copyrighted.
Copyright law applies on the Internet as it does everywhere else. Generally, text or photographs may not be copied, even if there is no statement that the item is subject to copyright. To avoid trouble under copyright law, don’t copy anything—including text, photographs, music or videos—without either permission from the copyright owner or a careful determination that the copying is legally permissible.
5. I think I have made a valuable invention. I want to patent it. What should I do?
Consult a patent attorney right away, and keep the invention confidential until you do. You can apply for a patent without a patent attorney. You can also cut your own hair without a barber. I don’t recommend either.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 3, Issue 7 (July, 2013).
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