Intellectual Property Law


Intellectual property (or "IP") is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect, and primarily encompasses copyrights, patents, and trademarks. It also includes other types of rights, such as trade secrets, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights against unfair competition. Artistic works like music and literature, as well as some discoveries, inventions, words, phrases, symbols, and designs can all be protected as intellectual property.(1)(2)
Copyright law protects the rights of creators in their works in fine arts, publishing, entertainment, and computer software. The laws protect the owner of the work if others copy, present, or display the owners work without permission.
Trademark law protects a word, phrase, symbol or design that is used by an entity to identify its product or service. Trademark owners can prevent others from using their marks, or marks which are confusingly similar so that consumers would not be able to identify the source. Federal and State laws govern trademarks, but the Lanham Act is the primary source of trademark protection. These laws protect against infringement and dilution. Rights in trademarks are gained by being the first to use a trademark in commerce or being the first to register the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Patent law grants protection for new inventions which can be products, processes or designs and provides a mechanism for protection of the invention. The patent law promotes the sharing of new developments with others to foster innovation. The patent owner has the right to protect others from producing, using, distributing or importing the protected item. Essentially the patent is a property right that can be licensed, sold, mortgaged or assigned.
Trade secrets are business practices, formulas, designs or processes used in a business, designed specifically to provide a competitive advantage to a business. These trade secrets would not be otherwise known to an "outsider" of the business. An example of this is the formula for Coca Cola. Trade secrets are protected without registration and appropriate steps should be taken by the owner to maintain confidentiality.

What N.M.B. can do for you. “Counseling, Protecting and Enforcing”

Client counseling centers around how best to protect the intellectual property that the client has or would like to develop. In trademark law, the lawyer will conduct searches on trademarks proposed by the client and counsel the client with respect to availability. In cases where a client has already invested time, energy and money, and a prior use in a similar industry is found, discussions with a client might include modifying or even abandoning the client's mark. In the case of patent counseling, our attorneys will assess its validity or likelihood of patent infringement.
Protection of intellectual property involves registering the trademark, patent or copyright to obtain the greatest rights available for our client's asset. In the case of a trademark or patent, the process involves N.M.B. attorneys preparing and filing an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and responding to actions issues by the PTO until the trademark is registered or patent issues.
Enforcement of intellectual property involves protecting our client against infringing uses. This may entail sending cease and desist communications to infringing parties or when necessary litigation in state and federal court.
Other components of our practice include licensing, due diligence in connection with mergers or acquisitions, and developing strategies for international and domestic intellectual property protection. The skills N.M.B. attorneys employ in the IP area are communication skills-both written and oral, negotiation skills, and business acumen.
(1) "What are intellectual property rights?". World Trade Organization. World Trade Organization. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
(2) "Intellectual property", Black's Law Dictionary, 10th ed. (2014).