Legal Questions? Answered.

Patent FAQs

An idea by itself is not easily protectable, but if the idea has taken the form of an actual invention, at least on paper, then the patent process might be up for consideration. By way of consultation, I can hopefully give you enough tools to do the cost/benefit analysis.

Often, a business or inventor will take one of two steps: (1) a preliminary patentability search and opinion; (2) file an application. The type of application may vary depending on business needs. We can help you with either option.
A provisional patent application is a place-holder application that is filed to obtain patent pending status for a 12-month period of time. It may be a cost-effective way to obtain a filing date. A utility, or non-provisional application, is the “full-blown” patent application for a functional invention that actually gets examined for patentability at the Patent Office. A design patent application is an alternative type of application that protects an ornamental article.

Trademark FAQs

No, but federal registration has several advantages including notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark, a legal presumption of ownership nationwide and the exclusive right to use the mark on or in connection with the goods or services set forth in the registration. In short, it provides expansive rights and makes enforcement less complicated, i.e. is more valuable.
The ® symbol represents and provides constructive notice of a federally registered trademark. The TM could mean the same, but also may mean a party is claiming unregistered, common law rights.
Federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark. Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark. Generally, the first to either use a mark in commerce or file an intent to use application with the Patent and Trademark office has the ultimate right to use and registration. However, as above, there are many benefits of federal trademark registration.
No. Use of the symbols “TM” or “SM” (for trademark and service mark, respectively) may, however, be governed by local, state or foreign laws and the laws of the pertinent jurisdiction must be consulted. These designations usually indicate that a party claims rights in the mark and are often used before a federal registration is issued.
The federal registration symbol may be used once the mark is actually registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Even though an application is pending, the registration symbol may not be used before the mark has actually become registered. The federal registration symbol should only be used on goods or services that are the subject of the federal trademark registration. [Note: Several foreign countries use the letter R enclosed within a circle to indicate that a mark is registered in that country. Use of the symbol by the holder of a foreign registration may be proper].
No, although it may be desirable to employ an attorney who is familiar with trademark matters. An applicant must comply with all substantive and procedural requirements of the Trademark Act and Trademark Rules of Practice even if he or she is not represented by an attorney. In addition, the importance of maximizing your rights as opposed to limiting or forfeiting them because of an error can not be understated.

Copyright FAQs

The © symbol, or the words copyright followed by the year and owner is the notice designation from an owner asserting copyrights to a work such as a book, musical composition or website. The notice is commonly used, although not legally required to assert rights.
Any work put in a tangible form, such as a website, is essentially already protected under U.S. Copyright Law. The U.S. laws prohibit the reproduction of such works by others without consent of the owner, even without a registration. However, there are benefits to registration.
The benefits to a registration largely reside in the owner’s ability to collect other forms of damages other than actual damages. It makes it easier to enforce with that added leverage. In addition, you MUST register the work if you were to ever file an infringement lawsuit.

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