Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Statement Released by White House

Intellectual Property Statement Released by White House

On February 20, 2013, the White House released The Administration’s Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets. These policies have been announced as part of the President’s response to threats to the economy, as the administration recognizes that theft of U.S. trade secrets poses a very real danger to American jobs in the global market. The strategy outlines a very clear approach to halt the theft of trade secrets by foreign competitors or governments. The Strategy outlines five basic tenets to address the threat to trade secrets. First, the administration plans to increase diplomatic engagements, particularly communications with countries who display a high rate of intellectual property theft. Coalitions with other countries who share the same concerns will be built, and foreign law enforcement will be encouraged into greater involvement. The administration plans to use existing trade policy tools to encourage better protection and involvement from other countries. The administration also plans to encourage and support internal industry efforts to develop protective practices which benefit all domestic companies. The Department of Justice will continue to prioritize investigation of trade secret theft by foreign companies and governments, and will maintain their efforts to prosecute these crimes. When specific information and technologies are targeted for theft, the FBI and other intelligence agencies will offer warnings and threat assessments to the private sector. President Obama recently signed into law two pieces of legislation which provide enforcement against trade secret theft. However, laws must keep up with the times, so the administration will conduct regular reviews to be sure these laws remain relevant and effective, and will work with Congress to pass additional measures when they are determined to be necessary. Finally, it is recognized that awareness of trade secret theft is a key component to protection of American businesses. The administration plans to work toward greater public awareness of the threats and risks posed to the American...

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Methods of Legally Protecting Intellectual Property

Methods of Legally Protecting Intellectual Property

The beauty of human innovation is that all of the advances we’ve made as a species first started as an idea within someone’s imagination. Businesses are often founded on a unique idea or invention, and it follows, then, that protecting those ideas would be in the company’s best interests. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, there are four ways to protect intellectual property. Patents protect the company’s right to an idea or invention for up to 20 years, and will fall under three main categories. Design patents protect ornamental designs which are new and original, and apply to manufactured items. The design of a tennis shoe could be protected under this type of patent. Utility patents may also apply to manufactured items, as well as machines, compositions of matter, and processes. Plant patents are designed to exclusively protect new or discovered varieties of plants, such as hybridized versions. Trademarks are designed to reserve the rights to a name, word, phrase, symbol, color or even a sound which distinguishes an item or service as a unique product. Unlike patents, which have an expiration date, a trademark may continue to be renewed indefinitely. Copyrights protect a body of written work, music or artwork which is protected by the Library of Congress. This protection lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years after his death, during which time the work cannot be lawfully reproduced without permission from the owner. Trade Secrets can be information which a company uses for competitive advantage in the business world. This information is held secret and cannot be used by competitors, although there are some methods of avoiding legal repercussions through methods like independent research or discovery. One common example is the formula used by the Coca Cola company, which is has been kept secret for the life of the company in order to preserve the unique nature of the product. Bethel Law Corporation is experienced in the protection and defense of intellectual property with particular emphasis on trade secrets, their documentation, implementation, development, sale, and licensing. Please call our office to arrange a...

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Protection of Trade Secrets

Protection of Trade Secrets

In industry, it is generally recognized that one’s livelihood may be at least partially derived from certain information or processes unique to that business. This has led to a desire to protect these “trade secrets”, so inappropriate use or outright theft of the intellectual property cannot be used by a competitor. Protection of trade secrets is covered under tort law, which provides a legal avenue for compensation to the injured party. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act was originally published by the Uniform Law Commission in 1979, in an effort to provide a framework for a uniform set of regulations pertaining to trade secrets in industry.  Prior to the widespread adoption of the UTSA, protection of trade secrets fell under common law in individual states. With the exceptions of Texas, Massachusetts, and New York, forty-seven states and the District of the Columbia have now passed regulations based upon the UTSA model. This provides greater consistency, and therefore better legal protection, from one state to another. The UTSA defines a trade secret by several qualifying factors. A trade secret can be any type of information such as formulas, techniques, patterns, devices, programs, methods, or processes, which has economic value stemming from the fact that it is not generally known by other persons who may profit from using or knowing it. The person or industry which claims to own the trade secret must have made reasonable efforts to protect its secrecy. It does not matter whether the information has real economic value or only potential value. Both are protected under the UTSA. In order for a trade secrets claim to qualify under UTSA guidelines, the subject matter in question must first qualify as a trade secret by this definition. The owner of the information must also prove that reasonable measures were taken to protect it, and that the offending party wrongfully acquired the information. This last qualification is very important. There are basically two situations which qualify for the wrongful acquisition of a trade secret: a breach of confidence or improper means of gaining the information. There are many lawful ways in which a competitor may acquire a trade secret and use it to their own advantage, such as reverse engineering or independent discovery. If it can be proven that the trade secret owner did not take reasonable measure to protect the information, then the original owner will probably not succeed in...

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