Understanding your intellectual property rights and how to protect them from infringement is valuable knowledge. This knowledge will affect your ability to recognize when a person or company is violating your intellectual property rights and how you can remedy that violation. To be fully aware of your rights regarding all of the intellectual property you produce, speak with a lawyer today. The intellectual property lawyers at Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP are here to explain when it is appropriate to sue for infringement of intellectual property. To schedule your free consultation, contact our Fayetteville intellectual property lawyers today.
Types of Intellectual Property
Generally, there are four types of intellectual property (IP) protection that can be afforded to individuals and businesses. Those four types are:
- Trade Secrets
A patent allows you to have property rights on your invention. This lets the patent holder bar others from making, selling, or using your invention. You can obtain a patent by filing a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). There are three different types of patents an applicant can file for:
- Utility Patent – Covers a creation of a new or improved product, process, or machine
- Design Patent – Covers any new, original, and ornamental design for an invention (protects the way an invention looks)
- Plant Patent – Covers any new variety of asexually produced plant
A trademark can be a word, phrase, or symbol which identifies the source of goods or services. This allows consumers to distinguish what business produced a line of goods. A classic example of a symbol which is trademarked is the horse symbol on a Ford Mustang. You do not have to apply with the USPTO for trademark protection since it is acquired by use of your trademark. However, registering your trademark with the USPTO will make it easier to enforce your IP law protections.
A trade secret can be a formula, a certain process, device, or privileged business information which a company keeps concealed to give themselves an advantage over their competition. Examples of trade secrets can include:
- Specific processes for seasoning (e.g. KFC’s “11 herbs and spices”)
- Client lists for a law firm or other businesses
- Specially designed computer software
Since a trade secret must remain confidential, you cannot obtain IP law protections by registering your trade secret. A trade secret only remains a secret for as long as you can take the appropriate steps to keep that information from your competitors.
A copyright is used to protect an original work of authorship. Examples of copyrighted material include:
- Literary works like novels and poetry
- Artistic works like sculptures or paintings
- Music and other sound recordings
- Architectural works such as designs for a structure
A copyright exists from the moment the original work is put into some tangible form which can be perceived. The owner of a copyright generally has exclusive power over the copyright and can distribute, display, perform, or sell the rights to the work they create. Like some other forms intellectual property, a copyright can receive more IP protections from registering with the United States Copyright Office.
Suing for Intellectual Property Infringement in Arkansas
After a party violates your intellectual property rights, the law allows you to fight back using certain IP law protections.
A patent holder can seek legal action against any party who copies their patented invention, patented design, or patented discovery. Patent holders should be aware that if they do not file for patent protection for their invention within 12 months of distributing their patent in a public setting, they will lose the opportunity to patent their invention. This will leave the inventor open for others to copy inventions, designs, and discoveries without the risk of legal action against them. Other people or companies can even file a patent for your idea if you do not file for it quick enough, leaving you without any recourse.
A trademark holder can file suit against any individual or business which is using their symbol or slogan for their own purposes without their approval. To be victorious in their case, a trademark holder must prove that they were using the trademark first and that the unauthorized party’s use of their trademark is likely to cause confusion among consumers.
Owners of trade secrets usually have to subject their employees to nondisclosure agreements and post-employment restrictions to keep their trade secrets safe. Thus, infringement of trade secret lawsuits usually involves a company versus a former employee. A trade secret owner should consider the cost and risk analysis of suing a former employee for trade secret infringement, as the damages they will receive will likely be limited. The civil litigation required to defend intellectual property is complex and time-consuming so you should be sure it is worth it.
Copyright holders can file suit against infringers once they become aware of the infringement. Infringement of copyrights usually mean a party stole the copyright to present as their own or to use for their own particular profits.
Damages for Infringement of Intellectual Property
The remedies for intellectual property violations depend upon the nature of the violation. However, remedies and damages that may be available include:
- Lost profits – Estimated amount of money lost due to the infringement
- Statutory Damages – Damages set forth by the statute
- Injunctions – An order to cease doing or continue doing a certain action
- Compensatory Damages – Money to compensate for damages or unlawful conduct
- Destruction of the intellectual property that was stolen
To get a more in-depth analysis of the type of protections and remedies available to you due to intellectual property infringement, you should speak with an experienced attorney.
Fayetteville Intellectual Property Attorneys Can Help
If you or your business suffered damages or a loss of good will among consumers due to intellectual property infringement or copyright infringement in Arkansas, you should speak with an attorney today. The Fayetteville intellectual property attorneys at Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP possess years of experience representing clients in various intellectual property legal actions. For a free consultation, contact us today at (479) 439-9840.