Articles Posted in Intellectual Property

AdobeStock_279078466-300x188You’ve probably heard your grandfather complain that he did not patent the “mobile phone” he invented in 1942. If he had, he’d be a billionaire! Ideas come and go, but those who take the leap and protect those ideas often reap the benefits.

Intellectual property” (“IP”) is defined as a unique “product of human intellect” protected by law. Intellectual property can be both in physical form, an idea, or even a design. Algorithms, programming techniques, song lyrics, and books are all forms of intellectual property. Federal law protects intellectual property from being used by unauthorized parties. Protecting business’s intellectual property will help the business maintain the value and benefit from their intellectual property. IP law is complex, and you’ll need the assistance of a Mountain View IP attorney from Structure Law Group to protect your rights under federal intellectual property law.

Types of Intellectual Property

In the Silicon Valley technology sector, intellectual property is more than just a buzzword. It is an asset with the potential to generate significant income for years to come. Intellectual property includes patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Many employers protect their intellectual property with invention assignment agreements and confidentiality agreements.

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What types of Agreement can be used to protect my company’s intellectual property?

There are many different types of agreements that employers can use to protect their intellectual property. The appropriate one for your business depends on what specific protections your business wishes to enact. An invention assignment agreement is a contract that establishes the employer’s ownership over all creations (including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and other inventions) that are created at the employer’s expense on company time.

Fotolia_106115248_Subscription_Monthly_M-2-300x237Intellectual property is a valuable asset for a business. When a company licenses its IP out to other businesses, it can gain a competitive advantage and also reap the benefits of a lucrative, passive revenue stream.

When dealing with IP, most business owners immediately think of patents.  Patents cover inventions including processes, machines, compositions of matter, designs, and plants.  However, patents are only one type of valuable IP.  There are other types of intellectual property that can be licensed out to increase your business’s revenue.  These include:

  • Trademarks, which protect company or product names, as well as corporate logos, slogans, and other promotional materials; and

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Despite the fact that everyone is entitled to their day in the court, the reality is that most cases are resolved out of court.  Many clients will approach their lawyers with the hope that they will be able to quickly get in front of a judge and explain their story—a vision of American justice that is reinforced in popular media and Court TV.  However, getting to trial is a long process and most cases never make it to trial.  In most situations, the cases take earlier exit ramps, such as informal out-of-court settlement, mediation, arbitration, or is resolved by a ruling before trial.  Even if a case is set for trial, it is very common for the parties to settle on the eve of trial.

Often, the cheapest and most efficient way for a dispute to get resolved is for the attorneys to work on an out-of-court settlement.  This can occur at any point either before or after a lawsuit has been filed.  Under this track, attorneys informally negotiate a resolution.  If the parties agree to it, the attorneys will memorialize the resolution in a settlement agreement.  This is often the quickest way to resolve a case, as it does not require any third-party intervention—it only requires the parties to work together to settle their differences and capable counsel to guide the parties through the process.

In addition to out-of-court settlements, cases often get resolved with the help of a neutral third-party.  For instance, cases often go to non-binding mediation before they move on to trial.  Indeed, more and more courts are making mediation a mandatory step before allowing the case to move to trial.  During mediation, the parties present their case to a neutral third party whose job is to facilitate a settlement agreement by working with the parties and their attorneys as a go-between. Sometimes, cases may end up in front of a neutral third-party who has the authority to make a binding decision.  For instance, if the parties signed an agreement for binding arbitration, a private judge will make the final decision and the parties must live with the decision whether or not they are happy with it.  Arbitration is usually less costly and more efficient than going to trial.

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It seems almost once a week there is data breach in the news-Facebook, Experian, Target, Delta Airlines. The list goes on and on. San Jose business owners have a legal obligation to protect their customers’ personal information (also called Personally Identifiable Information or PII). Every business, regardless of the size, should have a privacy policy and measures to safeguard PII. This is especially true if your business collects user information online or stores sensitive employee information.

What is Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

PII is any information that can be used to identify an individual’s personal identity. There are many definitions, but most often the following list is considered PII:

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Securities law is something you might hear in the news because of some violation or in relation to white-collar crime. With the wild ride that the stock market, including the gradual introduction of permissible, legal trading of cryptocurrencies (like bitcoin) and tokens from initial coin offerings (“ICO’s”), has securities laws a popular, researched and well-debated topic among entrepreneurs, businesses, investors, lawyers, and regulators. But, what are these laws? Securities laws are detailed and complex laws that govern securities. Below, we discuss some of the basic concepts of securities laws. For more information, contact a Mountain View transctional attorney today.

Understanding Securities

A security is a common word used in investment circles. It is a broad term that refers to the instrument used in certain transactions, financing or investments that are sold in various financial markets. The Supreme Court uses the Howey Test to determine whether a transaction represents and investment contract (and thus a security) by using the following definition of when an investment contract is a security: “a person invests his money in a common enterprise and is led to expect profits solely from the efforts of the promoter or a third party.” Examples of securities include:

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Palo Alto business owners are faced with heavy competition in the Silicon Valley, all of which are looking for the best practices, methods, and trade secrets. Some of a company’s most valuable assets can be found in your intellectual property. Each year intellectual property theft costs businesses billions of dollars. If you think your intellectual property might be at risk of being stolen or you can confirm it has been stolen, you need to act fast.

Different Types of Intellectual Property

In order to protect yourself from Intellectual Property theft, a business owner must first define what they need to protect. For example, if the business owners want to secure a method of a certain process, a formula specific to their company, or even lock down a logo and name to fight off competition, there will be different applicable forms of legal protection to consider and utilize. There are several forms of protection, some of them being:

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In the tech-rich culture of San Jose, protection of intellectual property and consumer data is a constant concern for business owners. How can owners invoke legal protection for these assets in order to protect their legal interests and reassure customers that their data is secure? The answer depends upon the different types of liability a business can face when consumer data is compromised.

Contractual Liability

Contractual liability arises when one (or more) parties in a contract fail to fulfill their responsibilities agreed upon in the contract. Many technology companies have contracts with consumers. These are often contained in the Terms of Service issued to users of mobile apps or software. Some can be more detailed – especially when the company is hired to perform a specific service to the customer. For example, when a company provides customers with secure data storage based on a private server or the cloud, the Terms of Service are typically very inclusive. If such consumer data is compromised, a technology company can face contractual liability for failing to provide the secure data storage offered by the terms of the contract.

Non-Compete-1-300x200In the innovative and competitive culture of the California job market, intellectual property rights are valuable and fiercely guarded. Many employers favor agreements which prohibit their employees from disclosing trade secrets or working for their competitors. Unfortunately, many of these agreements are wholly unenforceable by a California court of law. With the legal advice of an experienced California intellectual property attorney, business owners can access the appropriate tools to protect their legal interests.

The Trouble With Non-Compete Agreements

As a general rule, California law does not allow for enforcement of non compete agreements (NCAs) against an employee after he or she leaves the company. This position espouses a larger public policy which favors an employee’s right to choose to change employers. Many employers believe they can get around the rule prohibiting NCAs with careful wording or crafty legal argument. California courts have almost always seen through these creative tactics, and uniformly refused to enforce them against employees. The Huffington Post reports on just some of the many arguments which have not persuaded California courts:

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California is one of the most innovative and creative job markets in the world. Every year, advances in a wide variety of industries reach consumers as a direct result of work done by California employees. Fashion, entertainment, technology – these are just a few of the many industries which develop cutting-edge consumer goods in California. Employers can protect their valuable intellectual property in this creative and fast-paced market by making sure to have their employees sign a non-disclosure agreement. With strategic employment agreements, such as non-disclosure agreements, employers can create legally enforceable protections for their products, designs, developments, and other intellectual property.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is a broad term which applies to creations of the mind. It can apply to artistic works, such a manuscripts or songs. It can apply to branding, such as logos, colors, and package designs. It can also apply to designs for inventions and consumer goods. All of these types of intellectual property have value, which is owned by an employer who hired a worker to create them. In some cases, this intellectual property can be a highly valuable asset. Employers should seek out an experienced California Employment Attorney to help ensure they have the correct strategic employment agreements to take precautions to protect their intellectual property.