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Sacramento Intellectual Property Law Blog

Why are trade secrets so valuable?

If you own a business in California, you may have something very valuable within your organization that qualifies as a trade secret. If you do, it is essential to understand why they are so valuable. This is the only way to ensure you can protect them and keep them as a valuable company asset.

To begin with, according to Business.com, a trade secret is something that helps you distinguish your company and your products or services from everyone else. It helps you to define your business and gain a competitive edge. Businesses use them all the time. The secret formula for Coca Cola and the spices in KFC chicken are two great trade secret examples.

Copyrights prevent some Netflix customers from streaming

For years, Netflix has built up its reputation as a purveyor of streaming entertainment. While most of its customers in California and around the country consume its content online, Netflix still has ties to its roots as a DVD-by-mail company, and some 2.7 million customers around the country still consume its media that way to this day. 

There are many different reasons for people to stick to this seemingly outdated mode of media consumption, including a lack of selection, poor or inconsistent broadband internet access and overpriced or unavailable streaming offerings. However, one of the most significant reasons for maintaining DVD-by-mail service from Netflix relates to copyright law

What is a work made for hire?

Ordinarily, if you create an original work of authorship in California and fix it in a tangible medium of expression, you automatically hold the copyright to it. That copyright is yours unless you transfer it to someone else. Otherwise, even when you die, your estate will retain the ownership of it for many years thereafter. However, there is one notable exception to this rule. If someone hires you to create a work of authorship for business purposes, it may be a work for hire, which means that the entity for whom you created the work holds the copyright, not you. 

According to the American Bar Association, you do not have to be an employee to create a work for hire. If a company hires an independent contractor to create a creative piece, it could qualify, although this does not follow automatically. The company and the independent contractor should enter into a contract delineating who retains the copyright of any intellectual property that results from the business relationship if the work falls outside the realm of what automatically qualifies as a work for hire, which includes translations, contributions to a collective work and parts of motion pictures. 

Why might you lose your right to a patent?

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Office must use the same standards of patentability in the examination of every claim regardless of whether it involves an artwork that is "newly developed," "complex," "competitive" or "crowded." Standards typically include patent eligible, nonobvious, useful, novel and enabled. That said, just because a claim recounts, in detail, all the features of an invention does not mean the Office will allow the claim. It also does not mean the Office will allow a person to keep a patent if it already granted one. If you lost your right to a patent in California, there may be several reasons why. Below are just a few of them.

If you filed a patent for an artwork that a foreign publication, whose publication was prior to your filing date, described or printed, the Office will reject your application or revoke your prior approval. If others knew of or used the invention prior to the date you filed for the patent, the same outcome may occur.

How can I identify a phishing email?

According to Webroot, a phishing attack involves sending a seemingly legitimate email that directs the recipient to visit a fraudulent link for the purpose of stealing information. This can include things like credit card numbers, banking information, and account passwords, and many companies and their employees are subject to surprisingly effective phishing scams to collect sensitive data. Being able to identify a phishing email is the first step towards protecting your business from cybercrime.

Grammatical and spelling errors

IP battle between tech giants continues

Companies in California who need to guard their intellectual property can often learn a lot about this topic by watching the activities of other businesses. For the past couple of years now, two technology giants headquartered in the state have been at odds with each other over alleged intellectual property infringements

As explained by Tech Times, Apple filed a lawsuit against the chipmaker Qualcomm, who was a key supplier of technology components to Apple. The suit alleged that the chipmaker employed practices to guard its patents that were illegal. Furthermore, it was alleged that this was done so that Qualcomm's market position would essentially remain untouchable. Another leading chipmaker based in the Pacific Northwest sided with Apple in the matter. This lawsuit was an antitrust suit.

Understanding the “fair use” doctrine

As a California resident who has the rights to a certain copyrighted work, you may have obtained the copyright in an attempt to prevent others from using your work without your explicit permission. If someone does decide to reference or otherwise use your copyrighted work without first securing permission, whether he or she is behaving unlawfully in doing so depends on whether the action constituted “fair use.” At Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP, we understand that the fair use doctrine allows people to reference your work in limited circumstances, and we have helped many people determine whether someone’s use of their copyrighted work fell within these fair use parameters.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, “fair use” promotes freedom of expression and essentially refers to using a copyrighted work for a limited and “transformative” purpose, which might include briefly referencing, commenting on, criticizing or parodying said work. There is a fine line between using a copyrighted work under fair use terms, however, and using it for some other type of gain.

How to protect your trade secrets from theft

As California business owners know, protecting business assets is the same as protecting the core of the company. Assets can include everything from the product itself, to the things financially backing it. Trade secrets are one big piece of the pie.

FindLaw identifies trade secrets as something that sets a business apart from the rest. A trade secret gives a company its uniqueness or flair, and can range from the recipe for well-known foods to the particular method of crafting a car part used in a line of automobiles. Protecting trade secrets is vital to preserving that "uniqueness", and certain steps can be taken to provide said protection.

Why you need to register your copyright

At Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP, in California, we represent many creative people whose mission in life is to create works of art such as paintings, musical compositions, books, photographs, computer programs, or any number of other artistic work types. These works represent the intellectual property of their respective creators, and as such, need to be copyright protected from the infringement of and by others.

You may not realize it, but once your creation reaches its final tangible form, you have an automatic copyright to it. You can therefore put the copyright symbol on it. If you think, however, that this fully protects you, you are sadly mistaken.

How should I respond to complaints on social media?

If you’re a small business owner in California, chances are you use social media to interact with consumers and provide information. Some consumers may take this opportunity to complain about some aspect of your business, and it’s essential that you respond correctly to mitigate damage. In this case, Marketing Land offers the following advice.

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Roseville, CA 95661

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