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Intellectual Property Attorneys: A Startups Best FriendA startup that is in it for the long run needs to get acquainted with intellectual property. Intellectual property covers a broad range of topics and intellectual property law is all about the rules for enforcing and securing whatever comes as a result of someone’s work, mostly in scientific and artistic fields but includes all kinds of intangible assets.
What does an IP lawyer do?:
Intellectual property law firms handle all aspects of the law related with intellectual property. An Intellectual property lawyer’s main task is to protect the rights of their clients. This includes cases that have to do with copyrights, trademarks, design rights, and patents. An attorney will discuss with their client what sort of protection they believe is appropriate and help them apply for it.
The usual process:
The initial process typically involves checking to see if anything similar is currently being protected. If so, then your attorney will provide advice on proceeding-- this can involve finding a way around this. If there is currently no copyright or patent, then your lawyer will start the ledger work for one on your behalf. The application process can be long and complicated, especially with patents.
Do IP attorneys do anything else?:
Yes -- IP attorneys have a wide range of important responsibilities which include:
Keeping their client from breaking IP laws
Intellectual property and business attorneys alike ensure that their clients do not infringe on patents or copyrights already in place, which is actually quite common especially with larger companies.
Protecting their client’s rights:
Your legal adviser will provide advice on how to put out a notice on your intellectual property. A proper notice prevents inadvertent infringement by making your ownership rights more easily known. Intellectual property rights are enforced in federal court. If infringement should occur then your lawyer will take steps to begin a lawsuit against any party who infringes on your rights.
There is usually large amounts of money at stake in cases like this but most cases end with either a settlement or with an agreement that the infringing party pay royalties. The terms for either are negotiated by your commerce or business attorney. In most cases, going to court is usually the last resort.
Determine if you need a patent, trademark, copyright, or combination thereof:
Intellectual property covers can be categorized between 3 types. Here are the fastest ways to identify the 3:
-- Design patents protect currently existing inventions and improvements added to them.
-- Names, words, images, symbols, or anything used to represent products, companies, or services.
-- These deal with primarily intangible properties such as ideas, literary, musical, or artistic works.
After discussing things with your IP attorney, he will determine which one would be ideal for your needs and advise you on how to proceed.
A note on taking your case to court:
Infringement cases are very expensive to pursue. Along with financial risk, you also put your ownership rights at risk should the court decide that your rights do not cover as much as you thought.
In successful lawsuits, your available options will increase. The court may order an injunction forcing the one infringing to stop their activities or you can have the one infringing sign a licensing agreement. Large payouts are also common -- certain famous cases have even bankrupted large companies.
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