Trademark & Copyright Law

Trademarks and copyrights are ownership rights in intangible things called “intellectual property.” A trademark, and its companion, service mark, is ownership in a name, or logo, or other symbol that designates the source of a product or business. For example “Microsoft®” is a trademark which designates that certain products or services are manufactured or sold by the company and no one else. Trademarks are usually denoted by the familiar symbols ® or ™. Before a trademark can be issued, there must be a comprehensive state and federal trademark search to determine if someone else is already using the mark.

Copyrights show ownership rights in works that are authored, such as books, advertising material, blueprints, photographs, computer software and so on. Unlike trademarks and patents, copyrights arise at the time of authorship and can be effective simply by indicating, in some fashion, that the material is copyrighted. Additionally, copyrights can be formally registered and are usually denoted by the symbol ©.

Beard St. Clair has extensive experience both in establishing intellectual property rights for clients and enforcing those rights. Intellectual property rights are always an important consideration when starting or operating a business. Many times intellectual property rights can be extremely valuable and constitute the greatest asset of a company. When someone attempts to use a trademark or copyrighted material, that person can be sued and an injunction issued prohibiting the person from further use of the trademark or copyright. Copyright enforcement takes place exclusively in federal court. Trademark enforcement can take place in either state or federal court.

Trademark and copyright laws are very complex and it is extremely important that people seeking assistance in this area retain a law firm that has experience with intellectual property. It is unlikely that the average law firm that many people use has this expertise.