At AadVantage Legal Services, our firm houses experienced patent, trademark and copyright attorneys who are "Of Counsel" to the firm. These skilled lawyers assist clients throughout Michigan with a full range of intellectual property issues. They a provide clients with advice regarding the protection and/or commercialization of a broad range of intellectual property, both domestically and internationally. We handle a wide range of intellectual property matters in Michigan, including:
How do I get a patent?
Obtaining a patent is a complicated legal proceeding that involves a detailed examination of your patent application, as well as a search to determine if your invention truly is original. A patent application can take a long time to process, and you should contact us to help you through this very complex procedure.
What is the difference between a copyright and a trademark?
A copyright is something that protects a person's rights in something he or she has created-writings, drawings, musical compositions, etc. A trademark is something that identifies the source or origin of a product.
General Information on Intellectual Property:
A patent is a right granted by the United States government to an inventor to exclude others from making, using or selling his patented invention in exchange for the inventor disclosing the invention to the public. Through this grant of rights and exchange for disclosure, invention is fostered. For currently filed applications, the term of the patent is 20 years from the earliest effective filing date (for design patents, the term is 14 years).
The types of subject matter which may constitute patentable inventions include articles of manufacture (also known as products or manufactures), machines (apparatus, devices), processes (methods), compositions of matter, and improvements of the above.
As a business or individual we are committed to helping you increase profitability. In doing so, it is important to understand how you can profit by owning the rights in a patent. One can exclude another from making, using, or selling the patented invention and sell rights in the patented invention. In selling the rights in the patented invention one can license or assign those rights. Thus, the initial investment in obtaining a patent can result in large financial returns.
An inventor should also contact an attorney as soon as possible once he or she has a working embodiment in his or her mind. A prototype is not necessary for the filing of a patent application. It is critical to ensure that the inventor has not performed act(s) that will prevent her from being able to obtain a patent. For example, the inventor may be barred from obtaining a patent if she publicly uses the invention or offers to sell or sells the invention more than one year before the filing of a patent application.
The first step in obtaining a patent is generally to have a patentability search performed to determine what aspects of your invention, if any, are patentable and to determine the likelihood of success in obtaining a patent. After determining the likelihood of success and when appropriate the next step is to proceed in filing a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Note that a patentability search is not required to file a patent application. Once filed, your application will “get in line” and an Examiner at the USPTO will examine the application generally between 1-2 years after the application is filed. The trend is heading toward the latter due to the receipt of an ever-increasing number of patents.
A trademark is any shape, color, logo, symbol, word or other device that identifies the source of a product or service. A trademark owner may obtain rights in your trademark by using it in commerce. However, these common law rights in the mark are limited to the geographic region where the mark is used. Therefore, federal registration of the mark is recommended. Federal registration provides you with: 1) constructive notice nationwide of the trademark owner’s claim to the mark; 2) presumption of validity of the mark; 3) a registered basis for obtaining registration in foreign countries; 4) the ability to register with U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods; and 5) the right to initiate an infringement suit for using the registered or a confusingly similar mark in commerce.
When selecting a trademark, the trademark owner should be concerned about creating a likelihood of confusion with similar existing or soon-to-be-existing marks. Additionally, one should be concerned about choosing a mark that will likely be accepted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The mark should not be a generic term (i.e. napkins) or one that is merely descriptive of the goods or services (shiny polish). One should try and choose a mark that is fanciful or arbitrary (i.e. the trademark Apple for computers) to increase the chances in one obtaining and retaining the rights in a mark and preventing others from using the mark.
The federal trademark application process works generally by having a trademark availability search performed to determine whether your proposed trademark is eligible for use in commerce and eligible for federal registration. As with a patent, it is not required to perform a search before filing of a trademark. However, it is recommended that state and federal databases be searched as well as a domain name search be performed prior to use of a mark. Trademark rights begin to vest as soon as one uses the mark in commerce.
When selecting a domain name for your business, you should be aware that the domain name must identify the source of your services or goods and cannot simply identify where your website is found. If you are starting a business or a new website, you should seek to register your domain name as soon as possible. The benefit of seeking legal advice before registering your domain name is that while you may be able to obtain a particular domain name, acquiring it is no guarantee that your use of that domain name is not infringing an existing or soon-to-be-existing registered trademark owned by another.
Copyright protection can be obtained for all original works of authorship (artistic or literary works) that are fixed in a tangible form of expression, i.e. paper, audiotape, videotape, etc. The following categories of works may generally be protected by copyright: 1) literary works; 2) musical works, including any accompanying words; 3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music; 4) pantomimes and choreographic works; 5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; 6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works; 7) sound recordings; and 8) architectural works. Additionally, the content of a website can be registered as a work in one of or any combination of the above categories.
The benefits of copyright protection are the rights to reproduce, prepare derivative works from, distribute copies of, and perform or display publicly the copyrighted work. A violation of these rights can give rise to liability and a lawsuit.
The first benefit of registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office at the U.S. Library of Congress is that it establishes a public record of your copyright claim. For works of U.S. origin, registration is necessary prior to filing a suit for infringement. Second, if registration is made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will establish a presumption in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate of registration. Furthermore, if registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, damages may be available to the copyright owner in a court action. Finally, registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service in order to prevent the importation of infringing copies.
Trade Secrets are defined by state law, and vary from state to state. In general, trade secrets are formulas, devices, compilations of information, customer lists, cost and expense information, manufacturing techniques and processes, or any other information which is used in one's business, and which gives one an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use the trade secret. In order to be protected, the information must be hidden from the public and not be easily ascertainable by proper means by one's competitors. Reasonable efforts must be taken under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
The benefit of obtaining legal advice for your trade secrets is to ensure you implement the best strategies to protect your trade secrets. Losing trade secret protection can be a devastating loss for some companies. These Attornies will assist you in implementing the following strategies: providing you with legally sound non-compete/non-disclosure agreements for your employees, limiting access to the proprietary information to only those employees who need access to it, conducting appropriate background checks on employees who will have access to sensitive information, limiting and controlling access to areas where the proprietary information is available, and consistently stamping any documents "confidential" that contain proprietary information.
Whether you are a business or an individual, the intellectual property attorneys of AadVantage Legal Services are committed to helping you increase profitability through the protection of your patent, copyright and trademark rights.
If you have any questions for us, or to speak with a lawyer regarding your trademark, copyright, patent or other intellectual property matter, please do not hesitate to call one of our conveniently located Michigan offices in Livonia, Utica, Garden City, Royal Oak, Canton or Rochester. If you prefer, you may e-mail us, or fill out the form on the Contact Us page of this website and a representative from our office will be in touch with you as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you!