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November 2016 Archives

Spam laws in California

Spam is when someone sends an email to a person who has not asked to receive it and who has no established relationship with the sender. The California legislature has enacted a law to ensure that consumers are protected against spam. Anyone found breaking this law can be sued by anyone they send spam to, as well as by the Attorney General or email providers involved. Violators may be charged with a misdemeanor and may face up to six months in jail, along with being ordered to pay fines, fees and/or restitution.

What is the difference between a utility and design patent?

If you are seeking a patent in California, you will have to first decide what type of patent to pursue. While this may seem easy, the difference between a design patent and utility patent may cause you some confusion. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office defines utility patents as covering the function of an invention, whereas design patents cover the look of an invention. You must choose the correct patent type or your application could be rejected.

What you should know about copyrights and fair use

Copyright is something that California residents need to be aware of when doing things like creating websites, teaching classes or developing any materials to share with others. Violating a copyright can get a person into legal trouble. However, there is something called fair use that may give people a chance to use copyrighted materials without permission and without any legal issues.

The dangers of letting prescription drug patents expire

California prescription drug companies have to protect their drug inventions from competitors in order to be able to make a profit from them. There are two main protections available: patents and exclusivity. However, expired patents or exclusivity rights can lead to many legal issues and fights over ownership, making it important for a company to stay current on what protection is available and keeping that protection valid, if possible.

How is it determined if something is a trade secret?

As a business owner in California, your trade secrets are protected intellectual property just like trademarks, copyrights and patents. However, identifying one can be much trickier than doing so with the others. The basic definition, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is intellectual property that gives an edge to your company over others in the same industry. It can be a formula, such as a special recipe for a food item offered exclusively at one franchise, a pattern or a compilation of information. Processes, techniques, methods for creating a unique product or service and devices may also be trade secrets.

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