Sunday, August 22, 2010

What is an Intellectual Property (IP)? by Jack Yachbes

The concept of property is something we all understand. Take real estate. Property is a home, a strip mall, a commercial building or farmland. You can touch it, walk on it and live in it. Pretty simple concept. Property is something real, ergo, real estate.

An intellectual property is different. It usually begins as an idea, takes form and becomes a book, a film, a game, a TV show or something else that people read, watch, play or otherwise recognize. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) defines intellectual property this way:

"Intellectual property relates to items of information or knowledge, which can be incorporated in[to] tangible objects at the same time in an unlimited number of copies at different locations anywhere in the world. The property is not in those copies but in the information or knowledge reflected in them. Intellectual property rights are also characterized by certain limitations, such as limited duration in the case of copyright and patents."

An IP differs from real property in several key ways. An IP is the product of imagination - a very difficult thing to measure or define. An IP is more easily stolen, pirated or just plain ripped off. In fact, certain countries in the world have no intellectual property agreements across international borders so you can buy a pirated copy of the latest blockbuster on the streets of Beijing today - BEFORE it premiers in U.S. theaters.

Like a house or other property, an intellectual property can be bought and sold. It happens every day. An intellectual property can be sold lock, stock and barrel, or sold off in parts, which usually delivers increased revenue to the owner of an intellectual property.

For example, rights to a copyrighted book can be sold off in many different formats: North American distribution rights, large-print rights, one-time serial rights, sole source rights, audio-book rights, film rights - the owner of a copyright can sell various types of rights as long as the sale doesn't conflict with rights agreements already in place.

"I Have A Good Idea."

So does everyone else in the world including my Aunt Tilly. But an idea is NOT an IP. You can't copyright or trademark an idea. In fact, if some other innovator comes along with the exact, same idea as your brainstorm, there's nothing you can do about it.

An idea is NOT an intellectual property. An idea becomes an intellectual property when you apply work to it - write it, design it, describe it, code it, or otherwise put some work into that idea. And the more work you put into your idea, the more of an intellectual property you own - an IP that needs protection from theft or infringement.

That protection can take the form of a registered copyright, a patent, a license, a contract or some other defining documentation that describes the parameters of the intellectual property.

That's why it's critical to protect your idea as you give it more and more form. You can copyright a book or film. And as the copyright holder, you own that IP, whether it's a book, video game, movie, webinar, seminar or any other form of media. Without legal protection your intellectual property may be unprotected.

You know the famous smiley face - the one that's burned into all of our brains? Well, the artist who created that ubiquitous icon never registered the copyright for the image and, over time, that smiley face fell in to the public domain, which means anyone can use it. Even an IP lawyer.

It's a Jungle Out There

If you're new to the concept of IP, but you're in the process of creating one, i.e. you're writing a book, coding a computer game, building a website or broadcasting a webinar, you need protection early in the development process.

The world wide web, and all the attendant "new media," have created an insatiable demand for intellectual properties. Today, an IP - a good one - is almost like currency. It can be traded, bought and sold, used to build credibility and trust and generate revenue. And if it's really good, that IP can generate a whole lot of revenue.

However, if you don't know the consequences of selling your copyright to a publisher, if you don't understand the difference between a trademark and a signature mark, if you're unfamiliar with one-time serial rights, you may quickly discover that your IP is no longer your IP.

Intellectual property law is a complex specialty, one few attorneys practice. It involves a variety of media. It entails means of distribution, it crosses international boundaries in this global economy, it engages dealers, publishers, distributors and even rack-jobbers. And if you're engaged in the creative process, chances are you may not even be aware of the value of your IP.

Further, you may not fully understand the risks associated with intellectual properties - especially across international boundaries.

Seek Legal Advice Early

Remember, an idea is just an idea. However, once you've developed that idea and put work into it, giving the idea substance, it needs to be protected with a copyright, patent or other legal document. You own something. But without legal protection, you can very quickly lose that product of imagination forever. Or, end up in court for years battling a deep-pockets IP publisher who's in no rush to settle.

As soon as you begin shaping your idea into an IP, seek legal counsel from an experienced legal firm - a law firm that has extensive experience in IP management, IP development and, most importantly, intellectual property protection.

The earlier you obtain legal counsel during the development phase, the safer you and your IP are. Don't take chances. This is your concept, your vision, your dream.

Consult with an intellectual property lawyer and protect what's rightfully yours.

Protect your future. That IP may be the next big thing, and that would be a terrible thing to lose.

Just ask Harvey Ball. He created the Smiley Face as a freelance artist. He gave that million-dollar IP away.

Jack Yachbes is a New York City attorney who specializes in intellectual property law. He has worked with authors, game developers and other creative individuals to protect their intellectual property rights, distribution rights and other rights related to the ownership of an intellectual property. Jack can be reached at:

Can I Register the Copyright on a Book's Title? by Daren C Cari

I must tell you that titles do not fall under copyright protection under law.

HOWEVER, if you are intending your book to be the first of a series of books under this title, i.e. if you're intending to create a brand from your books, you could be able to trademark it. I'm thinking here of the kind of series of books like the "Chicken Soup" series by Mark Victor Hansen & Jack Canfield. Other series of fictional books are created and sold of course; under the Star Wars and Star Trek brands for example.

Once you establish a book series under your title, the title can acquire a secondary use as a brand for your books, effectively the trademark for your products.

In that event, you can simply use the "TM" symbol against it.

The "TM" mark indicates a trademark and, as you're probably aware, functions like the "©" copyright symbol, in that it is notice to others that this is a brand, identifiable to the product's owner, that they're using it to sell their merchandise, and others shouldn't try and pass off or sell work/merchandise using that title. It's unofficial, and while not carrying the weight of the official "®" trademark symbol you get having registered with the UK's Intellectual Property Office (which we got for our company name duly noted®), it is nevertheless universally recognised.

Once you look for it in the everyday world, you'll notice the TM mark everywhere, for titles, names and logos.

Certain popular authors' characters even have the TM symbol next to them. Clive Cussler's "Dirk Pitt" character is one name I can think of. Harry Potter to; not just as a character name, but as a brand as that name is always in the Harry Potter books titles. Spiderman creator Stan Lee trademarked and licensed his own name, and Tom Cruise won a case against a website using his name to sell unrelated goods. So it is possible you can make good use of a trademark to help you in the fight against unauthorised/unlicenced usage.

duly registered is your instant, Online Copyright Registration solution. Our service provides intellectual property owners unbiased, verifiable third party day-and-date evidence about their work to aid their case in the event their copyright is breached.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Understanding Trademark Categories by Joseph Devine

The United States government provides us with the opportunity to protect our products and creative ideas with copyrights and trademarks. When you come up with an creative idea for a symbol or mark, you should consider getting a copyright for it so that you can benefit from your creativity. However, when you apply for a trademark, you should realize that there are different prerequisites that your mark must fulfill in order to get a trademark.

First, a symbol must have a certain degree of creativity before you can apply for legal protection for it. A generic description like "car" or "cereal" is a something that we use to identify an object, not just identify a particular brand of object. For example, "Apple" would not be a satisfactory trademark for a apple fruit producing company. However, when applied to computers, "Apple" is a creative way to label a business that produces computers, not fruit. Sometimes, though, a term can lose its creativity as a term becomes more commonplace, and can possibly lose its trademark.

Next, to determine if a symbol deserves a trademark, copyright courts place it into four categories: arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive, and generic. These are in the general order of creativity, with arbitrary marks being the most distinctive. As mentioned above, generic marks hardly ever receive legal protection from trademark and copyright courts.

An arbitrary mark is often called a fanciful mark because it has absolutely no relation to the product with which it is associated. This can often be the most successful type of symbol since it can become engraved in consumer's mind that a "swoosh" mark somehow embodies Nike and all of its products. Because these marks are so distinctive, they are typically given more protection than others.

Next, a suggestive mark is not directly tied into a product or company, but it somehow associates itself with the business or item. For example, the North Face company creates backpacks and jackets and other such outdoor products, and their symbol is somewhat reminiscent of a mountain. While the North Face's products aren't just for mountain climbers, the symbol conveys an idea of ruggedness and warmth for the coats.

Descriptive marks are more linked to their companies or products. Because this can walk the line between generic and actually information, descriptive marks or slogans generally must fulfill a another characteristic, secondary meaning. This means that although a phrase might be able to describe a number of different products, this symbol or slogan has come to be specifically associated with a particular company in the minds of the consumers.

Obtaining a trademark for your company can be an important part of protecting your creativity and products. If you or someone you know needs help with the legal aspect of receiving a trademark or copyright, talk to the business lawyers at Skjold - Barthel [] today.

Legal Issues Selling Or Using Stock Photos of Buildings Or Landmarks by Kathy Burns-Millyard

If you are trying to break into selling your photography as stock photos, or you're a small business who has recently discovered the joy of using low cost stock photography in your print or online publications, there are a variety of legal issues you need to know about. In this article we'll address a specific area of architecture: Buildings and Landmarks.

Not many people know this, but lots of new buildings are copyrighted or trademarked these days. Technically the buildings themselves may not be, but the designs of those buildings are. And if you try to sell stock photography which includes those buildings, you can be sued by the copyright or trademark holder.

The same applies to businesses who try to use those photos for their own advertising and marketing materials. Regardless of where you got the photo - or how much you paid for it - if the original stock photographer did not get a property release, then you are using the photos illegally, and this will usually get you wrapped up in a lawsuit with large amounts of money involved.

Trademarked building designs aren't the only things to worry about though. In almost any city or town across the world, you'll find a variety of statues, monuments, and other public artwork displays... and these are usually covered by copyright protection too. In some cases, statues and monuments are considered public domain because they're a government commissioned display. In other cases however, regardless of who commissioned the work, the original artist holds the copyrights.

Thankfully stock photo agencies do a great job of not allowing photos to be placed in their database if they may violate a copyright or trademark agreement. No one is perfect however, so some things slip in and get put up for licensing even when they shouldn't be. There are many websites around which have comprehensive lists of trademarked buildings and landmarks, and some of them also list those which might be problematic but no one is certain about.

Here's a few examples of common or popular architecture which could be covered by copyright and trademark laws:

- The Eiffel Tower: Only the nighttime light display is copyrighted. Daytime photos of The Eiffel Tower are still allowed to be sold and used for commercial photography purposes.

- The Sears Tower: Photos which feature this building cannot be sold for commercial purposes. In some cases a cityscape which happens to include the tower as a small part of the photo might be acceptable.

- Various Zoos, Theme Parks, and Aquariums: Entry tickets to many of these attraction explicitly state that no commercial photography is allowed.

See Kathy's excellent stock photography at

©2008, Kathy Burns-Millyard

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Copyrights vs Trademarks by Shannon Moore

Copyrights can be obtained for things of an artistic nature. This includes, of course, poetry, films, sculptures, music, fiction, etc. But can also include things that may not necessarily seem "artistic" in the general sense of the word. Copyrights can also be obtained for advertising copy, games, software programs and blueprints, to name just a few.

There are five different types of copyright filings:

Literary Works - books, manuscripts, poetry, theses, speeches, etc.

Visual Art Works - drawings, photographs, sculptures, artwork applied to clothing, etc.

Performing Art Works - dramatic work, script, motion pictures, etc.

Sound Recordings - recordings of music, drama, lectures, etc.

Serials & Periodicals - newspapers, magazines, etc.

To protect a business name within your industry, you would apply for a trademark.

Trademarks can be names of products or services, logos, slogans, packaging and even sounds and smells. In essence, a trademark can be almost anything that is used to identify a particular product or service. Registering a trademark grants the owner exclusive rights to the mark within the specified industry.

Of course, it's necessary to research the mark comprehensively prior to filing to ensure that there is no possibility of infringing upon another party.

This entails searching the pending & registered Federal and State trademark files as well as the US National Common-Law files. Then, if clear, you can decide if you would like to file for a Federal or a State trademark.

To register a trademark, that's done either through your Secretary of State for a State trademark or the US Patent & Trademark Office for a Federal trademark.

If you are only conducting business in one state, then a State trademark is most appropriate. If you conduct (OR are planning to conduct) business in at least 2 states OR between the US & any other country, you can file for a Federal trademark.

Shannon Moore is the General Manager for TradeMark Express. Since 1992, TradeMark Express has met the needs of their clients with comprehensive research, application preparation, attorney referrals and trademark consultation. For further details, please visit us on the web at TradeMark Express or call Shannon directly at 800.340.2010.

Does Your Domain Name Need To Be Registered As a Trademark? by Cheryl L. Hodgson, J.D.

Once you register a domain name, others cannot use it as their web address. A domain is a lot like a street address or location on the Internet. However, this does not automatically mean you can register it as a trademark protected by the federal government for your products and services. Whether it can also function as a legally protectible brand that adds value to your business depends on what you choose, so choose wisely.

The answer often depends upon whether you have chosen to market your products or services under a generic or highly descriptive domain. Generic and descriptive terms are not normally protectible as a trademark. A great example is which spent a fortune in 2007-2008 trying to convince the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and Federal Circuit that it has acquired "secondary meaning" in the domain. They failed because no matter how much they promote or market the term, it will still be generic for what the consumer finds at the site.

On the other hand, valuable brands on the Internet are not generic and descriptive. A domain such as EXPEDIA.COM® is registered and protected as a strong trademark because the owner actually provides services through the website. EXPEDIA may suggest but does not describe what is being offered at the site. Google, eBay, and Amazon are all domains turned famous trademarks because their owners not only registered the term as a domain, but chose a term that could also be distinctive for trademark purposes.

If you are going to invest money into creating and promoting a website, you should adequately protect the domain name as a trademark. It is insufficient to simply secure a domain name registration and in some cases can be fatal. One of my clients was sued by Amazon over his use of for computer services. He innocently registered the domain and put up his site with a picture of the Amazon River. At about the same time, established its site and was selling only books. Because he failed to "stake out his claim" to the term for computer services by securing a federal trademark, Amazon turned into a trademark bully and sued him 10 years later. He was forced to sell for a fraction of what it was worth, as he could not afford to fight the lawsuit.

Once you have a term in a domain that qualifies as a trademark, the key requirement is that you offer goods and services for sale, not merely provide an "informational" site.

An informational site describes you and what you do or sell, but does not actually deliver services or products online. For example, an attorney was refused registration of because the site merely showcased his services.

If you provide services online through your site, the Trademark Office will grant registration. For example, the ability to sign up for courses or workshops online is a service.

Other examples of registerable websites include online banking services, online chat rooms, online retail services, real estate marketing services with virtual tours, and hosting web sites of others.

It is up to you to decide. I believe if one is going to spend the money to market and promote goods and services online, it is wise to have a term that can be protected as a trademark as well as a domain. Whatever you decide, choose based upon an understanding of the difference between the two.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Things to Consider Before Registering a Trademark Symbol by Lenny Parker

Symbol or logo for company is the best method to show your company identity. There is little consideration when you want to register your symbol or logo for company.

Registering a trademark or company logos requires design search which can be performed by trademark attorney or lawyer.

A trademark lawyer should review this design search to ensure that your trademark logo is original. Your design logo should not infringe upon other trademark logos. Your trademark attorney can tell you on whether it is safe to start proceed registering the company name as a trademark or not.

Do not forget to codify all licenses in writing. Your trademark attorney or lawyer will help you. This means you should put the terms and conditions of the license in writing not only for logo but also your name, copyrighted works, and other intellectual property.

This step is important when your association lets others like members chapters, affiliated entities, or endorsed vendors use your logo. You should make a valid assignment as must an exclusive license or permission to use.

You may want to limited license for a specific use. More copyright problems arise when others claim to have appropriate permission to use all intellectual property including your logo. You may learn that a separate fee and permission is required in your logo license.

Since the trademark symbol and other contact information contained in your membership directory, mailing labels, and membership list are generally are not protected by copyright, it is essential for you to use license or other form of contractual commitment to define explicit, binding limits and conditions on the use of your logo by members, vendors and others.

Free trademark symbol or logo may be available on the Internet. But almost all free trademark logos will not reflect the unique aspects of your company.

Learn more how to register trademark and free trademark symbol in trademark opposition.

Tips to Protect Yourself Online

Almost all consumer products have a warning label; if only your email inbox had one too. Delivery notices from the post office, messages from friends, and headlines for local events all look innocent enough when they arrive in email form. However, these emails can contain malicious links with a virus, causing your computer to crash. But hackers aren't just using email anymore; they are tapping into websites and Social Media platforms. How can we protect ourselves online, and on our favorite social networking sites and not become a victim of cyber crime?

University of Phoenix instructor and IT expert Jim Dearman provides the following tips.

1. Be careful on what you share: Addresses, personal information, names of your spouse or children, using your full name, all make you vulnerable to identity theft. Although popular, website such as Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all gold mines for hackers. Check your privacy settings, and use with caution.

2. Think before your click: If you get an email from one of your contacts that seems out of character or contains a link you do not recognize, don't click.

3. Choose a strong password: Do not use a word from the dictionary. Change it by adding capital letters or numbers, and choose a password at least 8 characters in length.

4. Keep your computer up-to-date: Make regular updates, have anti spyware, and keep your virus software up-to-date.

5. Check your Social Media sites: Make sure to check your privacy settings. Sharing with friends is one thing, allowing strangers access to your site and personal information is another.

6. Secure your wireless network: Do not leave your wireless network open. Secure your connection, because hackers can access your personal information, browse your files, or even worse take over your computer.

7. Don't accept random friend requests on social sites: while the goal is to network, hackers can create fake accounts in order to access your personal information.