Imitation definitely is not the sincerest form of flattery, especially when someone is trying to profit from your original work.
The rights to your original creations are legally recognized and protected by intellectual property law. These laws protect against infringement or the use of someone’s intellectual property without permission.
Retaining a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law will help you properly register your work. A lawyer can protect you from intellectual property theft and help you pursue legal consequences for those who ignore the laws.
Both Rocket Lawyer and Lawyer.com are digital legal aid services. Connect with a legal expert today to protect yourself and your original work.
Intellectual Property Cases
Registering your work is the 1st line of defense from copycats. You can patent, trademark or copyright a work. Each of these protect different types of intellectual property.
If you believe someone is illegally using your creations, you have several options:
- Use Rocket Lawyer’s free cease and desist letter. This is a formal demand that the infringement stop and that legal action will be taken if it doesn’t. This establishes that the other party has been made aware of the infringement and paves the way for legal retaliation.
- Search for a vetted intellectual property lawyer practicing in your state with Lawyer.com.
- Use a DIY legal services website like LegalZoom that allows you to consult with an independent attorney and order the documentation you require.
- Request a court to order the person or entity committing the infringement to stop.
- File a lawsuit against the infringer and take the guilty party to court.
Start your trademark registration, patent application or copyright registration now to save yourself the headache of defending your work without legal protections in the future.
Copyright is a legal status inherent to original tangible artistic works. These include musical, literary and dramatic works or things like computer software. It doesn’t include things like facts or ideas. And works that you were paid to create by other people or entities aren’t necessarily protected by copyright laws.
Copyright is assumed at the moment of creation, but it's still best to formally register a work’s copyright for full legal protection. To be eligible to file a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement, your copyright must be officially registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
An intellectual property attorney specializing in copyright will assist you in 2 ways. To begin, they’ll help you register the copyright. If your copyright application is approved, your work is protected for the rest of your life and for 70 years posthumously. Second, they will defend your intellectual property rights in any litigation that may arise.
Set up a free consultation with Lawyer.com if you’re considering legal action against copyright infringement. Copyright cases aren’t always worth pursuing if you’re after compensation. The cases can be costly and time-consuming.
But your lawyer can determine if the likely outcome of your case is worth what pursuing the case will cost you. If you do pursue the case and win, you’ll likely receive some damages. The offender can also be ordered to destroy the infringement in question and stop profiting from it.
A trademark affords legal protection to things that identify products. These include symbols, titles, slogans and the like. The goal is to distinguish goods and services from similar products, protecting the maker from others profiting using their logo and to reduce consumer confusion.
Trademarks rights are created when you use a mark to identify your product. They don’t expire and can last forever. While you aren’t required to legally register your trademark, it is recommended. Federally registered trademarks benefit from the full protection of federal trademark law.
Start off with a Free Trademark Application Worksheet from Rocket Lawyer to start the trademark registration process. Or if you’re ready to register, use its trademark registration service.
A trademark lawyer can help you in several ways. They can help you in the trademark registration process above, identifying all the things that mark your product as unique and helping you make them official.
There are 3 types of trademark: arbitrary and fanciful trademarks, suggestive trademarks and descriptive trademarks.
Arbitrary and fanciful trademarks are the easiest to register. These are clearly defining marks that have little to do with the nature of the product they label. For example, you can’t trademark the word “Apple” in reference to the actual fruit, but “Apple” identifying a computer and technology company works; “Converse” identifies a shoe. These are pre-existing terms, but they are trademarkable because they clearly distinguish the product they are marking.
Suggestive trademarks and descriptive trademarks are harder to register and harder to defend. Work with a trademark lawyer when branding your product to ensure you can protect your original work under law.
A good intellectual property lawyer is essential for trademark violation cases -- you can start by notifying them with this free trademark violation letter template from Rocket Lawyer. This will both demand an infringer cease their actions and set you up to pursue a case if necessary.
If you need to transfer the trademark, your lawyer will also help you complete a legal trademark assignment. All trademark changes must go through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The process is simple, but it's important to stay on top of it to ensure you are in compliance and legally protected,
Patents protect inventions. They also give the inventor the right to introduce them to a marketplace and to use their product publicly without fear of theft.
These protections usually last up to 20 years from the application date. If you think you have a new product that has commercial potential, try to patent it before you tell anyone about it. This will set you up with protection when you decide to go public.
There are 3 types of patents: utility, design and plant patents. Utility patents protect useful machines, chemicals, processes or improvements to any of these things. They must be new but useful is the main characteristic. Design patents protect decorative, non-functional aspects of a product. And plant patents protect novel plants. These may be newly-created plants or plants that have been found and reproduced asexually.
There are 2 phases of patents. A provisional patent is good for 12 months while a non-provisional patent is reviewed and accepted or rejected. If accepted, your invention is officially patented.
You’ll want to file for a provisional patent as soon as you are on to something. This doesn’t offer the full legal protection but allows you to do a few things. It’s less costly and difficult to be granted a non-provisional patent once you’re ready if you’ve already filed a provisional patent. It also allows you to label your invention as patent pending, which may discourage others from copying it.
Overall, you want to stay on top of patents, so you should definitely utilize professional legal aid. Patent rights go to the 1st person who files, not necessarily the inventor. A patent lawyer will help you identify the appropriate stage to file both provisional and non-provisional patent applications.
Filing the application with the USPTO is a detail-important procedure. You’ll need to stay compliant with the USPTO’s specific requirements, so engage with an intellectual property lawyer on Lawyer.com when you’re ready to apply for a non-provisional patent.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
If someone is making a dime off of or otherwise benefiting from your original creations without your authorization, get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. Connect with a legal professional for advice on RocketLawyer or use the free lawyer search on Lawyer.com to kickstart your case today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long do intellectual property rights last?
A: It depends on the work and the type of protection you have against it. Patents last up to 20 years while copyright stands for the creator’s lifetime plus 70 years. Trademarks can potentially last forever.
Q: What can and cannot be patented?
A: Novel machines, technological advancements, manufactured goods and the appearance of a product are all eligible for patent. You cannot patent the following: elements, theories or theoretical plans, laws of nature, physical phenomena and abstract ideas.
Q: Who can hold the copyright?
A: The maker or creator holds the copyright of their creation. Copyright is assumed at the moment of creation, but be sure to register your work through the appropriate channels. This will ensure you are legally protected from infringement and will be able to pursue litigation if necessary.