Law Before You Leap

Intellectual Property
3 Types of Property in US Law
1. Personal Property
The first type is personal property, such as your toothbrush and your computer your car, you coat, your lawn chair, your purse, you camera, you golf shoes, your CDs. If someone steals your laptop computer, you can press charges for theft and have them arrested. You can also bring a civil suit against the thief to get monetary compensation for your stolen property.

2. Real Property
The second type of property is real property - that's your house, the land it sits on, commercial buildings, etc. If you are a real property owner, you get a deed. Your deed provides proof of ownership. The deed gives you the owner, the right to exclude others from using your property.  If someone tries to take your house from you, you can show that you are the owner and stop a someone from stealing your house.

3. Intellectual Property
The third type of property that is not as well recognized by the general public is Intellectual Property. Many people are not absolutely certain what the term intellectual property means.  If you are one of those people do not be embarrassed – many attorneys who do not practice in this area do not know exactly what is involved in intellectual property.  I’ll explain it to you.

Intellectual Property is often referred to in short form by the acronym "IP".  Sometimes "IP" is confused with IP ("Internet Protocol") in the computer industry.

IP (that is Intellectual Property) is a body of law that includes copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, undeveloped ideas, unfair competition, and right of publicity. It's helpful to think of IP overall as a big umbrella, with the individual protections (copyrights, trademarks, patents, etc.) each being a spoke of the umbrella. Each of these IP legal protections is briefly described below. Copyrights can be federally registered with the United States Copyright Office. Trademarks and patentable inventions can be federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Federal registration of these Intellectual Property rights - copyright, trademark, and patent, affords certain legal protections throughout the United States to the registered owner. Some forms of IP are also protected under state law. Intellectual Property protections also exist in many foreign countries.

Intellectual Property deals with one's ideas and inventions - more simply put, it deals with products of the mind or intellect - things like books, songs, choreography, movies, photographs, books, catchy names for businesses, new kinds of Christmas tree lights and paintings If someone steals your song, you can sue them for money. In some cases you can bring criminal charges against a "song thief".  When someone steals intellectual property, we call it infringement.

I will help you protect and manage your intellectual property through:
 Cease and desist letters
 Settlement Negotiations for infringement casesm Licensing Agreement
 Responses to Trademark Office Actions
 Infringement Litigation
 Rights of Publicity
 Unfair Competition
 Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) litigation

Entertainment law is an area of law is an area of law that deals routinely with copyright and trademarks.

Why is Intellectual Property Important?
About the only thing that is simple in discussing intellectual property is answering the question, "Why is Intellectual Property Important?" The simple answer is money. That’s why Michael Jackson  bought the rights to the Beatles music -megabucks!

Intellectual Property is a very complex area of the law. Because the subject is complex, I offer in everyday English, a mini-lesson overview of the legal protections provided by Intellectual Property law.

Intellectual Property protectable rights include:
 Trade Secrets
 Unfair Competition
 Rights of Publicity
 Undeveloped Ideas
 Underdeveloped Ideas

Sounds confusing, you say? Here’s an example that makes it simple:

CD Intellectual Property DEMO
Take a song recorded on a CD, which contains words (i.e., lyrics) and musical sound that, in addition to being on the CD, that has also have been published in sheet music which contains the music notation and lyrics. The CD, which is just a plastic disk and the sheet of paper are tangible means of expressing the music. A blank plastic disk or a sheet paper are virtually worthless, yet add sounds and lyrics and “voila” you have intellectual property.  The CD could contain the intellectual products of a lyricist, a musician, and an artist who designed the CD jacket cover – each respectively holding a copyright. It is the Intellectual Property that gives the CD value. Instead of the CD being worth only mere pennies for the blank plastic disc, the CD's worth will be whatever someone is willing to pay for the music embedded in it, perhaps $15.00 or more. That's why IP is valuable.

A copyright gives its owner the right to prevent others from copying a work that is fixed in a tangible means of expression. Tangible means something that can be experienced with one or more of our five senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch). Examples of "fixed expressions” of ideas are books, CDs, sculptures, photographs, architect drawings, sheet music, dress patterns, videos, etc. Copyright does not protect the idea itself, only the manner in which the idea is tangibly expressed.  An example of a work that is copyrighted is this page that you are now reading and all other pages of my web-site. The way I have chosen to express my professional explanation of IP law is different than how another attorney would express his or her explanation.  Nothing prevents another attorney from writing his or her own explanation of IP.

Trademarks indicate the source of origin of a goods/products or a services. A famous Trademark for a product is McDonald's® (the R means the trademark is federally registered). When we see the McDonald's name or the distinctive golden arches, most of us can immediately envision a certain type of hamburger. Slogans can also be a trademarked. One of my trademarks is "Law Before You Leap”.

A patent protects an invention. There are three types of patents: utility, plant, and design. Inventions can be simple, like the safety pin, or complex, like a microprocessor chip for a space shuttle. A patent gives its owner a monopoly on an invention for a fixed period of years. Utility patents are granted a longer monopoly than plant or design patents. Historically in the United States, to patent an invention, an invention must be conceived by the person seeking the Patent.

Trade Secrets
O.K. Trade Secrets is dead give-away – it’s an idea you keep secret – and if you follow certain legal precautions, if someone tells and/or uses your trade secret, you can sue them.  One of the most famous trade secrets taught in law school is the recipe for Coca Cola – it’s over 100 years a secret and only a select group of people are allowed to know the secret recipe.

Unfair Competition
Unfair competition is sort of a net that captures a variety of business conduct that is or can be construed to be legally unfair. The "unfairness" is just a polite way of saying that in the marketplace, one's commercial competitors can gain or attempt to gain advantage by dishonesty - in other words they sometimes slander, mislead, deceive, lie, cheat and steal. The unfair competition legal terms that cover these various forms of "unfairness" are: passing off, false advertising, misappropriation, false light, product disparagement, misrepresentation, fraud, product dilution, and trademark cyber squatting. Sometimes an unfair competition claim can even be made when someone negatively impacts another person's business by behavior that may have nothing to do with an intent to gain commercial advantage over the competitor. An interesting example of an "unfair competition" claim was when the meat industry sued Oprah for talking badly about meat allegedly contaminated by mad cow's disease. In the lawsuit, the meat industry claimed that Oprah showed beef to be in "false light" - suggesting it was bad to eat.

Entertainment Law
Entertainment law includes not only copyright and trademark concerns, but also contract and licensing law.  I am a master of contracts of all types.  Trust me when I say that I have never reviewed an entertainment contract that did not “the screws to” the artist. Entertainment law is an area of law is an area of law that deals routinely deal with intellectual property - with copyright , trademarks,  and rights of publicity and also incorporates most aspects of business law – especially contracts, licensing and franchising.

Right of Publicity
I know you know you cannot make money off of someone else’s likeness or image.  What that means is just because you love Michael Jordan, you cannot open a restaurant in his name.  Somebody tried that – Jordan sued them – guess who won?  Jordan.

Undeveloped and Underdeveloped Ideas
This are of law is really still underdevelopment (pun intended).  Largely, “underdeveloped;” ideas are protected through contract law.

International Protection
As an experienced intellectual property attorney, I am knowledgeable in copyright, trademark and patent matters. I can help you protect the value of your idea or invention with proactive planning so you can avoid litigation. In a competitive environment, if you don't protect your intellectual property, I will secure your international and domestic registration for your copyrights and trademarks - for example filing trademarks under the Madrid Protocol. I will represent you in international arbitration, mediation, and litigation. I will collaborate with appropriate foreign and domestic patent attorneys for Patent Cooperation Treaty filings.

AIntellectual Property Licensing or Transfer of Rights
If your secure legal protection for your intellectual property, especially through federal registration such as obtaining a copyright registration certificate, trademark  registration or grant of letter, there are three ways that you can make money from your invention  you can use the right to sell or r conduct business on your own, you can license your right to use the intellectual property to someone, or you can sell them the entirety of your right  in the intellectual property.

International Intellectual Property
As your intellectual property attorney, I will safeguard your work during international arbitration, mediation, and litigation and I can secure for you international protections for intellectual property. I handle Madrid Protocol trademark filing and consultation and collaborate with appropriate foreign and domestic patent attorneys for Patent Cooperation Treaty filing.

Contact Me for All Intellectual Property Matters
Attorney experienced in business and entertainment arts
Call or stop by my convenient suburban location in Westmont, Illinois
Free initial phone consultations
Available during weekend and evening hours by appointment