The Relationship Between Trademarks and Unfair Competition Law

The best way to envision the relationship between trademarks and unfair competition is to imagine an umbrella. The umbrella is unfair competition and trademark infringement is one spoke in the umbrella. This is because trademark infringement is a form of unfair competition, that is, fraud or dishonest business dealings in trade and commerce. It is when competition becomes unfair because one of the parties has ... Read More

An Unlikely Ally in the Fight Against Intellectual Property Infringement: Customs & Border Patrol

One of the largest scourges in the intellectual property world is counterfeit goods.  Counterfeiting is a form of infringement whereby a third party unlawfully uses another party’s intellectual property to sell their own product and pockets the profits. Infringement takes many forms, from bootleg movies to fake Louis Vuitton handbags to counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses to pseudo-Viagra. Much of this infringement ... Read More

Yes, You Do Need an Operating Agreement! Here’s Why:

“Yes, Virginia, You Do Need an Operating Agreement” will probably never become a blockbuster movie, but it is still good advice if you are going to form or have formed the most popular type of business entity - the Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). LLCs owe their popularity to their combination of the limited liability afforded to corporations with the tax benefits and flexibility of a partnership. LLC owners ... Read More

Using Non-Disclosure Agreements to Preserve Patentability

Patents are a highly sought after form of intellectual property for good reason: they allow the inventor or discoverer of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter (or any new and useful improvement of one) to exclude others from practicing that invention or discovery for a certain period of time. Patents foster innovation because without the guarantee that the inventor can exploit his ... Read More

Business Law: A Brief Introduction to Vendor Contracts

Just about everybody who does some form of business has vendors. Even vendors have vendors. That’s why it is critically important for business owners to understand the basics of vendor contracts and why they play an important role in most businesses. Vendors come in all shapes and sizes. For example, the office supply store where you buy your printer paper is a vendor, as are the global suppliers of wood for IKEA. ... Read More

How Much Money Does Your Company Need to Launch and Survive?

Funding a new business is one of the most misunderstood and hotly debated topics within the entrepreneurial community. It seems like almost any rule is accompanied by an exception. One school of thought is that you need a ton of cash upfront. On the other hand, given the failure rate of new businesses, startup dollars are frequently spent with nothing to show for them.  Others believe a shoestring budget is all that ... Read More

Understanding the Difference Between Actual Use and Intent to Use Trademarks

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) requires use of a mark in commerce in the United States before the mark can be registered. When the Lanham Act (the federal law that covers trademarks) was enacted in 1946, this “actual use” requirement was not popular with everyone. For example, many companies were reluctant to invest the significant amount of capital required to launch a product under a brand ... Read More

Trademark Law: The Madrid Protocol

While “Madrid Protocol” sounds like the name of a great spy novel or a new wave band from the 80s, it is in fact a treaty that allows applicants to search and register trademarks internationally. So if you have a United States trademark registration (or intend to get one) and your business is expanding into other countries, the information in this article is relevant to you. The Protocol Relating to the Madrid ... Read More

What do those Intellectual Property Symbols Actually Mean?

The litany of alphabet letters that sometimes accompany trademarks used in commerce can be particularly confusing, even for the users. The task becomes even more difficult when copyright symbols are factored in. Here’s a handy guide to deciphering the little subscripted letters next to trademarks and copyrights. Trademarks There are three symbols that are used for trademarks: ™, SM, and ®.  We’ll start with ® ... Read More

How are State-Based Trademark Applications Different from Federal Applications?

One unique aspect of trademarks that sets them apart from other types of intellectual property is that they are registrable at both the federal and state level. Copyrights and patents are only registrable at the federal level because they originate directly from the U.S. Constitution. Thus, only the federal government has the authority to issue these rights. Trademark protection, on the other hand, does not arise ... Read More