Register marks, logo designs and copyrights
Shapiro Law offers startups an appealing package to register your company’s marks. High quality services, focused on results, while minimizing unpleasant financial surprises.
Based on the company’s needs, you can establish a fixed fee for many legal services, providing a degree of certainty as to costs.
Contact Shapiro Law to discuss your intellectual property needs, including:
- Preliminary scans for proposed company name and mark
- Searching corporate and product names, including logos
- International preliminary scans and searches
- Filing and prosecuting U.S. trademark and service mark applications
Read Shapiro Law’s overview of selecting and clearing a mark, which illustrates the firm’s down-to-earth counseling style and clarity in presenting complex concepts.
- Filing a U.S. copyright application for the company’s web site or a product manual
- Counseling on the intersection of trademark and copyright law in the Internet
Before you make a mistake that will cost at least money and time, consult Mary L. Shapiro Law.
Avoiding common IP law pitfalls
Intellectual property law is complicated and easy to misunderstand, starting with the difference between a trademark, a copyright, and a patent. Over time, word of mouth and misunderstandings have engendered “myths” about the different forms of intellectual property. The bold blue statements below are entirely or partially false.
It’s not worth registering my mark.
That depends. While in the U.S. it is true that first to use (with some exceptions) may enjoy common law rights in a mark, there are important benefits to registration. If you ever need to enforce or defend your mark in court, a federal registration confers exclusive right to use nationwide, nationwide priority as of the filing date, constructive notice, evidentiary advantages, such as validity and ownership of the mark, and the ability to prevent importation of infringing goods..
I registered my mark in the United States, so I also have international protection.
I did not register the copyright for my work, but I did place a notice on it, so that’s enough.
Not really. Though registration of a copyright in the United States is not required, to enforce your copyright, you must have a valid registration to even be able to sue someone for copyright infringement. In addition to the critical right to enforce a copyright in the federal court system, there are other benefits of registration: availability of statutory damages, an award of attorney’s fees to the prevailing party, the evidentiary advantage of confirming ownership of the work, and the ability to prevent importation of infringing works.
I received a demand letter alleging copyright infringement, but my work is not identical to the work they claim I copied.
Two works need not be identical for a finding of infringement. The standard for copyright infringement is substantial similarity. The test considers similarity of expression, not merely similarity of ideas or concepts. One compares the plot, themes, dialogue, mood, setting, pace, characters, and sequence of events. A jury considers an ordinary person’s subjective impressions of the similarities between two works. In addition, there must be a finding of copying of elements of the work that are both original and protectable.
Since I incorporated only 10% of ABC’s work into my new product, I didn’t infringe ABC’s copyright. It’s fair use.
Maybe. Fair use is a defense to a claim of copyright infringement. It requires careful consideration of multiple factors: the purpose and character of the new use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit, educational purposes; the nature of the copied work (whether it is creative or factual); the quantity and quality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. As no one factor is controlling, there is no bright line rule that informs how much of a borrowing is too much.
I hired a designer to create my website and other marketing collateral. I provided the content and direction on the look and feel and they made it look first-rate. I own the copyright in the design.
The general rule is that the person who creates a work is the author of that work and owns the copyright in that work. A notable exception to the general rule is the category of “works made for hire.” In a “work made for hire,” the employer, and not the employee, is considered the author. When an independent contractor is engaged, to make the resulting work product a work for hire, the work must be a certain type of work (a contribution to a collective work, a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, a translation, a supplementary work, a compilation, an instructional text, a test, answer material for a test, or an atlas) AND there must be signed written agreement that the work would be considered a work made for hire. The latter requirement is frequently overlooked.
I found it on the Internet so it’s in the public domain and I can incorporate it into my project.
Possession is not the same as ownership. Just because you have a copy (digital or otherwise) does not mean you own the copyright in the work. However, works in the public domain are available to the public as a whole. Examples of what might have caused a work to be in the public domain include failure to renew, lack of proper notice, or failure to comply with manufacturing requirements.