Tag Archives: USPTO

Is the USPTO really contacting your company? Maybe not.

ftc_logo_430If your business has taken steps to protect your intellectual property with patents or trademarks, you’ve probably had correspondence or communications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). But some businesses report receiving letters or emails that look to be from the USPTO, but really aren’t.

Prince Law Offices, P.C., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the USPTO want you to know there are companies that contact patent and trademark holders asking for fees for “services” like renewing your trademark registration, signing you up for trademark monitoring services, recording your trademarks with government agencies, or listing them on a private “registry.” The names, emblems, and wording may seem official and the correspondence may even include USPTO application serial numbers, filing dates, or other publicly-available information. But the solicitations aren’t from the USPTO and some may offer services that are overpriced, unnecessary, or downright deceptive. Patent or trademark holders have paid companies hundreds or even thousands of dollars, mistakenly thinking they were paying fees to the USPTO – or paying fees the USPTO requires – to maintain and protect their patents and trademarks.

Our advice and that of the FTC to businesses: Read any notice about your patents or trademarks very carefully. Official mail from the USPTO will come from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, VA. If it comes via e-mail, the domain will be “@uspto.gov.”

The USPTO has more information about commercial solicitations that resemble official USPTO communications including a local example Patent & Trademark Bureau (Philadelphia, PA).

If you receive questionable patent- or trademark-related correspondence, report it to the FTC and email the USPTO at TMFeedback@USPTO.gov.

Prince Law Offices, P.C. clients that have completed trademark registrations with us often contact us when they receive such suspicious documents.  Desire more specific assistance regarding your business formation, agreements, intellectual property, trademarks, copyright, zoning, real estate law, cyber security, insurance, etc., contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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Filed under Business Law, Computer Law, Consumer Advocacy, Trademark and Copyright

A Guide to Better Understanding the Intellectual Property Services that Prince Law Offices, P.C. Offer!

Intellectual Property can be an extremely confusing concept for those outside (and even for many who are a part of) the legal profession. It’s important to understand what Intellectual Property consists of before one can understand the extremely varied and valuable IP services that Prince Law Offices, P.C. offers to the public.

Intellectual Property is generally considered to consist of three major components: Copyright, Trademark, and Patent. Each of these components often deals with registration and infringement.

The first major component is Copyright. To explain copyright in a nutshell, it is generally a work that requires creativity and originality and that can be fixed in some tangible form (e.g., people cannot copyright a story that they only have in their head, but they can copyright one that they have written down). This is of course an oversimplification, but it helps to give someone a basic idea of what copyright can do. If you’ve come up with a story, movie, song, artwork, or most types other creative endeavors, you can copyright it. Some people might ask, “Why should I copyright something I’ve created?” There are numerous reasons, but some of the most common are that in order to fully protect your work you will need to copyright it. You cannot sue someone for copyright infringement unless you have a properly registered copyright. Also if you do not promptly copyright a work, you will lose the ability to sue for punitive damages against someone who might infringe your work. Another reason is that in order to sell one’s ideas to another entity or person, they will often want the work that they are buying or licensing to be properly copyrighted. If buyers cannot fully defend their purchase or license they are likely to offer far less for the work than one that has been properly and copyrighted in a timely fashion.

Prince Law Offices, P.C. offers assistance in making registering a work for copyright protection a cinch and takes the hassle and mystery out of the process for a client. We can register just one work for clients or dozens of works for them. We can help photographers out by taking advantage of the bulk registration allowance for a series of photographs, instead of being forced to individually register each work. We also work hard to ensure that the mandatory deposit requirements are done correctly, so nothing can potentially jeopardize the timely registration of the work.

In addition, we handle issues of infringement, both offensive and defensive. If someone has been making an unauthorized use of your work, we can use a variety of tools at our disposal and can offer many options for a client, such as a non-monetary takedown request, a takedown notice with a demand for financial compensation, and even litigation for egregious matters.

We also handle defending people accused of copyright infringement. Few people fully understand how copyright law works and often mistake fair use for infringement or use vague and poorly collected “records” of possible download use to make monetary demands of people for alleged downloads of someone’s intellectual property. Just because someone sends you a letter claiming you downloaded something, doesn’t mean that he or she can prove it in court…or will even continue a matter to a litigation level. The people sending these letters depend on uninformed and scared opponents, something that they’ll never find when dealing with Prince Law Offices, P.C..

A Trademark, to borrow from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is “a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.” In short it can range from the name of your new company, a logo for it, a phrase to describe it, or even a sound that identifies it. The process for obtaining a trademark is far more complex than registering a copyright; it is highly advised that one should use the service of an attorney for such matters. You do not want to put thousands of dollars into a company name that is later refused registration because an attorney at the USPTO found it to be too generic or in violation of one of the many other reasons for why a mark can be refused registration.

Similar to copyrights, trademarks can involve issues of infringement. We can assist when someone is accusing you of using a mark that is the same or substantially similar to one that they have already registered. We can also help when someone is misusing your federally registered trademark.

Patent is a highly specialized area that deals with protecting one’s inventions. People who practice in Patent Law are required to pass the Patent Bar exam and generally have a science and engineering background in addition to their legal background. Prince Law Offices, P.C., does not generally offer Patent services, but we do have a number of excellent lawyers that we can refer members to obtain Patent help.

Whatever your Intellectual Property problem is, Prince Law Offices, P.C. can help you address your IP issues.

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Filed under Business Law, News & Events, Trademark and Copyright