Intellectual Property - Trademark and Copyright Infringement

California Intellectual Property Attorney

In the information age intellectual property has becone amongst the most valuable assets of all major corporations. Two of the most common forms of intellectual property are trademarks and copyrights. Trademarks are words symbols or phrases used to identify a seller or manufacturer’s products and distinguish them from other goods. Copyrights protect an author or artists creative works whether in print or other media.

Orange County Trademark Infringement

Businesses rely on trademarks to build brand identity, goodwill, and to market their products. Nevertheless, disputes regarding use of a trademark inevitably arise when others try to use another’s company’s mark in order to benefit their own business.

Trademarks are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) by completing an application and paying a fee. After a trademark is registered the owner may have the U.S. Customs Service prevent importation of international goods that infringe on a registered trademark. However, it is up to the trademark owner or their counsel to take the necessary steps to enforce the trademark against domestic actors.

Enforcement of trademarks may involve both state and federal law. Generally trademarks are enforceable where:

  • A use of a trademark affects the sales of competitor’s product by taking a market share away from the true owner.
  • Use of a trademark likely causes confusion for consumers in evaluating the true owner’s mark versus the competitor’s.
  • The trademark is used in the same region or on related goods as a competitor’s similar mark.
  • Use of a mark dilutes or weakens the strength of the trademark either because it is overused in different contexts or because it is used on low quality goods.

However, in order to claim the right to a trademark a business owner must actively use it.

Orange County Copyright Infringement

Businesses and individuals depend on the protections of copyright law to protect creative works. Copyrights can protect any works that convey information or ideas by restricting reproduction, distribution, adaptation, and performance or display rights. If someone unlawfully uses copyright protected material the copyright owner can bring a lawsuit to enforce the copyright and receive compensation for the use and stop the use.

Copyrights can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office by completing a form and paying the appropriate fee. However, copyrights do not absolutely prevent others from using their ideas. Defenses to copyright infringement claims include:

  • The use of the copyrighted work is approved as a part of the fair use exception, which includes when information is provided for educational, news, or parody purposes.
  • The owner authorized the specific use of the alleged infringement in the copyright license.
  • The infringement was not intentional and the infringer had no reason to know that the work was protected.
  • The statute of limitations has expired, meaning that too much time has passed from the time of the infringement and the time the lawsuit is brought.

Although enforcing a copyright against a foreign company brings added complexity; U.S. copyrights are generally enforceable against most countries around the world, and vice versa, under international copyright treaties such as the Berne Convention and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT treaty).

Orange County Intellectual Property Litigation Attorney

The Law Offices of Tony T. Liu can help defend against trademark and copyright infringement. To schedule a consultation with an experienced California business law attorney call (714) 415-2007 today.

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