Justin R. Muehlmeyer
All Posts by Justin
It is what you are not doing that will cause you problems. If you are like most businesses, you don’t have the time, experience or knowledge to ensure that you are in control of your Intellectual Property (IP). This is problematic because your IP is likely your most valuable asset. A good IP attorney will visit your operations in person to talk through the details of what you should be doing to best generate value from your IP assets. At Peacock Law, we call this our “IP Audit,” and our clients love it.
Here are a few of the big-ticket items we might discuss with you during your IP Audit.
Your Products and Processes
Your business creates IP when it develops products or processes. To harness the value of your IP, you must be in control of it. Peacock Law can help you gain control over your IP, which may involve any of the following:
- Developing and putting into place policies and processes for identifying and disclosing patentable inventions before first public disclosure of the invention (by sale, offer for sale, or publication);
- Establishing agreements with employees, partners, and contractors to ensure that your business owns the IP created by these individuals;
- Avoiding public disclosure if patent applications will be filed in certain foreign countries and ensuring that U.S. patents are filed no later than one year from public disclosure;
- Keeping up with the maintenance fees required to maintain patents;
- Filing continuation and continuation-in-part patent applications to claim even more of what you have already described in a pending patent application;
- Assessing the value and licensing opportunities of existing patent assets; and
- Auditing existing licensing agreements to ensure compliance with the terms and payment regimes.
Your trademarks are the face of your business and the gateway to your customers. You have or will be investing time and money in building up the good reputation your customers recognize you for, and the trademark is how they recognize you — don’t let it slip away from you. Peacock Law can guide your trademark strategy to ensure that your brand can thrive, which may involve any of the following:
- Ensuring that your branding is protectable by trademark law;
- Identifying all words, symbols, logos, slogans, and product features that may act as source identifiers, and that are currently in use or planned to be put into use;
- Searching for source identifiers before your company adopts a mark and invests in marketing the mark;
- Applying for registration when appropriate in the appropriate jurisdiction;
- Ensuring that the appropriate notice symbol is applied for all trademarks to avoid allegations of misuse, to ensure the mark’s enforceability and to maximize damages from infringers;
- Keeping up with the maintenance requirements of registered trademarks, which includes filing statements of use, of incontestability, and fees; and
- Tracking infringers and searching for unauthorized uses of your marks to stop knock-offs and maintain the quality of your brand and your company’s reputation.
Copyright law protects original works of authorship in a fixed medium. You may have copyright in your website content, product manuals, brochures, advertising, etc. Peacock Law can guide your copyright strategy, which may involve any of the following:
- Creating and implementing a policy for providing adequate notice on copyrightable works, including Web pages, source code, software, advertisements, manuals, company literature, artwork, etc., to maximize the benefits of enforcing those rights;
- Creating and implement a process to register copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office, preferably within three months of publication, to ensure maximum benefit of your rights;
- Establishing agreements with employees, partners, and contractors to ensure the proper ownership of the copyrights; and
- Seeking and negotiating license agreements for copyright assets to benefit from your work.
Your Valuable Information
A trade secret is information, such as financial data, formulas, supplier lists, source code, manufacturing methods, customer lists, etc., that is not generally known or readily ascertainable, and that gives your company a competitive advantage over other companies within the industry. Such information derives economic value from being kept secret and it may be the core of your business. Peacock Law can help your company protect its trade secrets by, among other things:
- Establishing policies controlling and limiting the disclosure of trade secret information to maintain its trade secret status;
- Controlling access to trade secret information, including physical access, such as locked doors, and cabinets, visitor sign in, and similar measures, along with restricted computer access through encryption, password protection, firewalls, etc.;
- Drafting nondisclosure and/or confidentiality agreements to prevent trade secret theft or inadvertent disclosure with partners, employees, and independent contractors;
- Reviewing conduct for determining theft of trade secrets; and
- Enforcing your rights to protect your trade secrets and obtain damages for their theft.
Employees pose the biggest risk of intellectual property theft and infringement. Peacock Law can assist with the proper handling of current and departing employees. This may include:
- Executing agreements that require an assignment of all IP rights developed while they are employees, and that prohibit use or disclosure of confidential information while they are employed or after leaving the company;
- Executing noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements for relevant employees; and
- Drafting acknowledgments for new employees that they do not have and/or will not use trade secret or proprietary information of others, particularly any prior employer.
Your Domain Names and Websites
In the 21st century, a company’s online presence is as important as its brick-and-mortar buildings. It is not uncommon for disputes to arise over ownership of domain names and for the use of domain names to pose trademark infringement risks. If you are creating a new brand, Peacock Law can help you make the right first steps to avoid serious issues down the road and expensive mistakes, for example, by:
- Checking ownership of the domain name for your new brand name;
- Conducting professional trademark searches to determine infringement risk based on who is using that trademark and if it has already been registered;
- Negotiating licenses or ownership of domain names already registered to someone else; and
- Assisting with forming your brand so that you have the strongest possible rights.
What is it that matters most to you?
Other law firms might simply use forms for the above not knowing what it is you even do or how you operate. Not Peacock Law. At Peacock Law, we get to the core of your business so that you can actually generate something of value from it.
To learn more about how Peacock Law can help you generate value, visit our website today or give us a call to discuss when we can visit you.