Rose Law Firm is proud to be a sponsor at the 2023 NWA Tech Summit October 29th – Nov 1st at the Rogers Convention Center. The NWA Tech Summit is the Heartland’s premier technology conference that serves to enhance, prepare, and diversify the NWA economy. We have three wonderful presenters this year:
Adam Hopkins – Adam works with companies and business owners in intellectual property (IP) procurement and litigation, particularly in federal courts. He helps clients register, license and enforce trademarks, copyrights and other IP rights, and he defends clients in IP lawsuits.
Reese Dollins – Reese’s practice involves representation of clients in a wide range of corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, real estate transactions, securities, private equity transactions and commercial lending. Reese also regularly advises clients on general corporate and governance matters
John Ogle – John’s practice focuses on corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, joint ventures, investments in private entities, commercial finance, and real estate. He also advises business organizations regarding matters such as securities law disclosure, corporate governance, and fiduciary obligations.
We’ve all likely seen them, the tiny ™ or lowercase © within a circle that follows some words. These are the symbols for trademark and copyright, legal protections that are in many ways like the old adage used when it looks like rain: It’s better to have the umbrella and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
With Northwest Arkansas being a hot bed for startups, especially those in the tech industry, intellectual property rights are worth discussion and protection. In fact, this will be a topic of the 10th Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit being held at the Rogers Convention Center starting Oct. 29.
This article will barely scratch the surface of the complex topic, so it will be important for businesses to seek legal advice to inform strategy and implementation of intellectual property protections. Let’s start the conversation with the basic categories and definitions:
- Trademarks – These protect the names, logos, and brands of businesses.
- Copyright – This covers creative works like music, writings, photography.
- Trade secret – This remains valuable only so long as it remains secret.
- Work made for hire agreement – An essential tool any time you hire an independent contractor to assist in the creation of copyright protected works.
Every business has a name, and every business name is valuable. Care should be taken to ensure your trademark rights are protected. Technology has made it easier for brands to either surveil for infractions or just happen across them. In a case where two companies have the same name and are and selling similar goods or services, the company that first used the name as its trademark (the “senior user”) will generally have superior rights, at least in its locale. However, a junior user that takes the extra step of federally registering its trademark will typically acquire superior rights throughout the country, except in the specific locale where the senior user operates. A junior user can thereby attain much broader rights than a senior user if the junior user is more diligent in proactively registering its trademark.
Copyright infringement is an intellectual property issue most people are familiar with from high-profile cases in the news headlines. Those headlines relate to disputes where one party, often a musician, is attempting to enforce its rights under copyright law. But how does someone obtain a copyright in the first place? It is quite simple and automatic: When you put pen to paper, or click record on your camera, or begin programming code, you are creating copyright protected works, assuming they meet the relatively low bar for originality and creativity. There are benefits to taking the extra step of formally registering your copyright, but you attain your copyright the moment you express your creativity in a tangible form.
A company’s intellectual property protection, or lack thereof, can lead to timely and costly headaches at best and catastrophic losses at worst. An attorney that specializes in such cases can assess and identify the solution that best meets your business’ needs.