What is Intellectual Property Law?

Intellectual Property Law covers a broad range of methods of protecting the “tangible expression of ideas.” However, all claims including patent and copyright share many common factors.

First, if the expression was “registered” with the U.S. Government before the commercial theft of the idea (“infringement”) occurred, the damages that I can help recover for the inventor/author are potentially much greater (bigger judgment or settlement).

Second, if there was “direct copying” of the expression, what can sometimes be a huge legal hurdle is avoided (the liability or fault part of the case is easier to prove). If there is not direct copying, or such cannot be proved, then the patent/copyright owner must prove that the defendant had access to the expression of the idea (saw it, or otherwise analyzed it), and, that the defendant’s expression of the idea is “substantially similar” to the protected one owned by the patent/copyright holder. This task can be daunting.

In every case of commercial appropriation of protected works and inventions, I need to initially know some things. Here are the questions a person contacting me about a potential case needs to answer:

  1. What are the number and title of your patent or copyright? Please send me copies.
  2. If you have trade secrets, please describe them.
  3. Who is wrongfully using your property? I need names and addresses.
  4. How have you been damaged? (Example: What royalties and/or product sales have you lost as a result of the infringement or misuse? How has your business been negatively impacted?)
  5. Do you have descriptions or written materials regarding the infringement? By this I mean materials that describe how your expression of your idea has been infringed. For instance, you should provide me any product descriptions or brochures being used by the infringing company that will help to prove your case.
  6. If you believe your ideas have been stolen, how did you protect them? What documents do you have that show that you protected your trade secrets? (a contract, license, non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement).
  7. Please provide me with your contact information (i.e., name, address, phone, email, etc.)

NOTE: YOU SHOULD ONLY SEND SUCH SENSITIVE INFORMATION TO ME VIA EMAIL IF ENCRYPTED, OR, VIA FACSIMILE. IN EITHER CASE, SEND SUCH INFORMATION ONLY AFTER CONTACTING ME AND GETTING MY CONSENT TO SEND ITEMS. One reason you must first get consent from me to send me information about your matter is that I may have a “conflict of interest” if I currently represent a potential opposing party/infringer. Once I verify that I do not have any conflict, we can proceed to go to the facts of your matter.

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