Other Intellectual Property
"Intellectual Property, noun. A category of intangible rights protecting commercially valuable products of the human intellect."
Black's Law Dictionary
Intellectual Property is simultaneously one of the most valuable assets in a business/creator's portfolio and often one of the least protected. It extends well-beyond Trademarks, and includes everything from Copyright to Trade Secrets. James Legal offers a number of solutions -- in addition to Trademark services -- to ensure your Intellectual Property is safeguarded.
When you create an "original work of authorship" -- like a book, music, a painting, software, or a photograph -- you are automatically granted certain exclusive rights to that work by the U.S. Copyright Act. However, in order to enforce those rights via the federal court system, you must first register your copyrighted work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration also provides additional benefits...
Statutory Damages. If you timely register your copyrighted work, you secure access to statutory damages in the event of an infringement. Since actual damages in an infringement lawsuit can be difficult to prove or nominal in amount, this is a highly desirable advantage. Furthermore, you may be awarded attorney's fees and costs.
Notice to Potential Infringers. Registration is a matter of public record, which means it is notice to all potential infringers of your exclusive ownership.
Legal Presumption of Ownership. If you register your copyrighted work prior to or within five years of publication, courts will presume that you are the rightful and exclusive owner of the copyrighted work in the event of a lawsuit. This can save you the significant time and expense of proving that you own the copyrighted material if you bring a suit against an infringer.
COPYRIGHT CEASE & DESIST
Once a potential infringer is identified, the first and arguably most powerful tool at your disposal is a Cease & Desist Letter ("C&D" for short). A properly-crafted C&D will identify the copyrighted material at issue, notify the infringer of your rights, explain to the infringer how their behavior is violative of your rights, and demand prompt corrective action to avoid costly litigation. In the vast majority of copyright infringement instances, a C&D is sufficient to remedy the issue. Since a C&D may trigger a lawsuit, James Legal does not send them without conducting a proper and thorough investigation first.
With the growing prevalence of user-created media online, instances of copyright infringement have predictably increased. In response, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 ("DMCA") was adopted to amend U.S. copyright law and provide, among other things, a notice-and-takedown system to assist online service providers and content platforms (like YouTube and Facebook) in swiftly removing infringing material. If you believe your copyrighted work has been infringed by a content creator online, a DMCA Takedown Notice may be appropriate. Conversely, if you are a content creator who believes a Takedown Notice was issued against you improperly, a well-crated response can ensure that your content is returned to the platform. An investigation of facts may be necessary prior to any action.
TRADE SECRET STRATEGY
If your business has proprietary or uniquely valuable information that you want to keep secret, you are required to take reasonable steps to maintain its secrecy in order to enforceably protect it from disclosure or misappropriation. What can qualify as a "trade secret?" Recipes, processes, formulas, software, inventions, marketing information, and even curated customer databases can all be considered trade secrets if properly protected. James Legal can assist with identifying your trade secrets, evaluating current protections for weaknesses, and developing strategies and procedures for strengthening those protections moving forward. Fees may naturally vary depending on the size and complexity of the situation.
Intellectual Property Audits come in a variety of shapes and sizes. But, one thing is certain: they are paramount to the proper valuation and protection of your company. Read "What is an Intellectual Property Audit" to gain a better understanding of the process. It will come as no surprise that the cost of an audit will vary based upon the scope of the project. A focused audit may only take a few hours and cost between $1000-2000, whereas an in-depth audit driven by a proposed acquisition may take significantly more time and cost $10,000+. Prior to any audit, we will discuss and identify your needs and provide a fee estimate.