Contact AdamsIP for the Assistance from a Top Huntsville Intellectual Property Attorney
At our Huntsville IP boutique law firm, our lawyers represent owners and prospective owners of all types of intellectual property assets.
Most business owners are familiar with the basic concept of intellectual property, and in our experience, most are even familiar with the different types of IP that exist. However, we also know that many people are less familiar with the differences between the different types of intellectual property—in other words when one type of protection is needed as opposed to another.
At AdamsIP, we believe strongly in helping our clients make informed decisions; and, in many cases, this starts with helping our clients understand the types of protections that are available for the assets that they have developed or acquired. If you have questions about the type of IP protection you need, we encourage you to read the list below to get started, and then we invite you to schedule a free consultation at AdamsIP with a skilled Hunstville intellectual property lawyer.
The Four Basic Types of IP Matters That a Huntsville Intellectual Property Lawyer Handles
Trademarks and Service Marks
A trademark or service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, design or any combination of the above that serves to distinguish the source of a product or service. Your company’s name and the brands of your company’s products or services are all examples of trademarks or service marks. When adopting a trademark, you need to make sure that no other company has adopted a “confusingly similar” mark, as this will serve as a bar to the adoption of your company’s proposed trademark or service mark.
Copyrights protect creative expressions of ideas fixed in tangible media. Website designs, photographs, videos, written content, lyrics, sound recordings, and software code are just a small sampling of the numerous types of assets that are eligible for copyright protection in the United States. While a work must be “original” (i.e. not copied) in order to be eligible for copyright protection, it is possible for two companies to separately and independently develop similar or identical works that are both eligible for copyright.
Patent law protects inventions. There are three types of patents – utility patents, design patents and plant patents. Patent applications can either be filed on a provisional or nonprovisional basis. In order to be eligible for patent protection, an invention must be novel, nonobvious, and must not be “anticipated” by prior art.
Trade secret law protects proprietary information that is derives commercial value from not being publicly known. Unlike trademarks, copyrights and patents, there is no registration system for trade secrets in the United States. Instead, trade secret owners must use secrecy and contractual protections to preserve the value of their IP assets, and they must be prepared to litigate if and when their proprietary information is publicly disclosed.
Our Huntsville IP Litigation Law Firm Handles All Types of IP Litigation
Patent, trademark, and copyright infringement are very serious matters for any business. When you have invested so much time and so many resources into your valuable IP assets, infringement can take a serious financial toll on your bottom line. On the other hand, being accused of patent, trademark, or copyright infringement can be a frightening prospect. You could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in damages, not to mention a significant hit to your reputation if you are found liable.
If you are facing an IP litigation matter, whether offensively as the IP owner or defensively as the party accused of infringement, you will need a competent Huntsville intellectual property attorney to assert or defend your interests. Our attorneys handle all types of IP disputes, including:
- Patent infringement
- Trademark infringement
- Copyright infringement
- Trade secret misappropriation
- Inter partes review (IPR) and post-grant review (PGR)
- Licensing disputes
We also handle every step of the IP litigation processes from beginning to end:
- Conducting pre-suit investigations, including patent searches and patent opinions
- Identifying the appropriate venue for the litigation
- Identifying the correct plaintiffs and defendants
- Drafting and filing complaints and pre-trial motions
- Handling discovery requests and depositions
- Claim construction and Markman hearings
- Preparing witnesses
- Calculating damages
- Motion practice, including motions for summary judgment based on invalidity and infringement/non-infringement
- Trial practice, including jury selection and instructions
- Alternative dispute resolution
- Negotiating settlements
Our attorneys have extensive experience handling IP litigation before U.S. district courts, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).
Intellectual Property FAQs
What Does IP Protect?
There are four main types of IP: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Patents protect what we traditionally think of as “inventions,” such as machines, substances, computer programs, and industrial processes. Trademarks protect brand names, logos, slogans, and jingles that identify the source of a product and differentiate it from the products of others. Copyrights protect artistic works, such as books, paintings, songs, and dance routines. Trade secrets protect information that derives value primarily by being unknown by others, which can include recipes, product plans, prototypes, and customer contacts.
What Kinds of Things Can I Patent?
The range of things that can be patented is very broad, encompassing virtually all outputs of human endeavor. The Patent Act defines patentable subject matter as “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” This could encompass, for example, a brand new chemical entity that no one has ever seen before, as well as an improved version of a common mousetrap. It could also encompass industrial processes, such as a new method of manufacturing goods that is more efficient and less expensive than previous methods.
How Do I Get a Patent?
The process of obtaining patent protection on an invention is called patent prosecution. To begin the process, you and your attorney file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Your application will then be assigned to a patent examiner who has technical expertise in the field of your invention. The patent examiner will then scrutinize your invention to determine whether it complies with the requirements of patentability. Most patent applications are rejected initially, but you are allowed to amend the application to address any concerns the patent examiner raised. This back-and-forth process continues until you have amended your application to the examiner’s satisfaction, whereupon you will be issued a patent. (Please note that this is a very high-level overview of patent prosecution — contact a Huntsville intellectual property lawyer for more detailed information).
What is IP Infringement?
IP infringement occurs where you use someone else’s IP assets without their permission. For example, patent infringement could occur where you incorporate someone else’s patented product into your own product and then sell it. Trademark infringement could occur where you begin selling products under a brand name that you thought you made up, but that was actually registered as a trademark to someone else. Copyright infringement could occur where you use a song in a video production without first seeking permission from the song’s owner. All of these examples of infringement are direct infringement. It is also possible to infringe IP by contributing to infringement or even inducing infringement under certain circumstances.
How Will a Huntsville Intellectual Property Lawyer Respond if I Am Accused of IP Infringement?
There are several defenses to IP infringement depending on the type of infringement you are accused of. The most common defenses to patent infringement are non-infringement and invalidity. When you make a non-infringement defense, you are saying that your actions with respect to the patent at issue did not amount to infringement. When you make an invalidity defense, you are saying that, regardless of whether you infringed it, the patent being asserted against you should never have been issued because it fails to comply with one or more of the requirements of patentability. For trademark and copyright infringement, fair use is a very common defense. With a fair use defense, you are saying that, although you did use the trademark or copyright in question, your use of it does not amount to infringement because the use was for the purpose of description, education, commentary, or parody, among others. If you have been accused of IP infringement, please contact a Huntsville intellectual property attorney to discuss possible defenses.
How Long Will My IP Protection Remain in Force?
The length of time a particular IP asset remains in force depends upon the type of IP involved. Generally, patents remain in force for 20 years from the date of initial application (not the date the patent was granted) and are not extendable or renewable in most cases. Trademarks remain in force as long as they are actively being used in commerce, which could, theoretically, be forever. Copyrights in most cases remain valid for the life of the author plus 70 years, although there are a few variables that can affect that timeline. Trade secrets remain valid for as long as the information at issue remains secret.
Schedule a Free Consultation at AdamsIP, a Huntsville IP Boutique Law Firm
Do you have questions about protecting your company’s or institution’s IP assets? If so, we are more than happy to help. To schedule a free consultation with a skilled Huntsville intellectual property lawyer, please call 251-289-9787 or inquire online today.
810 Regal Dr SW
Huntsville, AL 35801