is a trademark and copyright attorney in Womble Bond Dickinson’s Atlanta office where she concentrates her practice on trademark and copyright portfolio management, counseling clients on the risk associated with adoption of proposed names and marks, evaluating when applications for domestic and/or international registration should be filed and advising how and when to maintain those registrations. Laura works with a variety of large portfolio clients and utilizes an international network of IP attorneys to ensure that those clients’ trademark and copyright assets are adequately protected through registration in jurisdictions in which the client does, or anticipates doing, business.
For more information of to contact Laura, please visit her Firm Profile Page.
Recent news reports about choreographer JaQuel Knight’s efforts to copyright some of his iconic dance routines, such as Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” are a reminder that such works face steep hurdles when it comes to qualifying for protection. From ballet to breakdance and Swan Lake to Saturday Night Fever, dance is part of every culture—and a surprisingly frequent source of intellectual property conflict. While works of dance clearly are eligible for copyright protection under Section 102(a)(4) of the Copyright Act, determining which dances meet the standard—and which have two left feet—has been tricky and has resulted in a number of high-profile disputes in recent years. However, a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an unrelated copyright dispute may provide important guidance in subsequent dance-related copyright litigation.
Trade secret holders must take reasonable precautions to maintain the secrecy of their secrets, such as keeping such information on a “need-to-know” basis. Companies should have clear IP, confidentiality, and employment agreements describing which types of information are considered trade secrets. These agreements should also describe an employee’s responsibility for maintaining the secrecy of such information. In spite of reasonable precautions by a trade secret holder, bad actors may maliciously misappropriate trade secrets.
Copyrights protect original works of authorship. This gives a copyright holder exclusive rights to modify, distribute, perform, display, and copy the work. However, as with other forms of intellectual property, there are important things copyright holders need to know in order to best protect and utilize their copyrights. You do not need to register a work to be protected by copyright. However, registration is encouraged as it provides enhanced protection for copyright holders. For example, a registered copyright is considered prima facie evidence in litigation, meaning the court will accept, on face value, that the copyright is valid unless it can be proven otherwise.
Trademarks protect distinctive marks, such as brand names, logos, and designs. This protection allows a trademark holder to exclude others from using the mark without permission of the owner. The following includes important, basic information about trademarks, as well as how start-ups can protect their trademarked intellectual property.
Intellectual property probably isn’t high on the to-do list for most new nonprofits and business start-ups. There’s plenty enough to do with setting up an organization, paying bills, and serving customers and clients. However, intellectual property is important and shouldn’t be overlooked. Companies and organizations that don’t protect their IP can risk losing hard-earned work and concepts. Also, companies can risk liability if they violate the IP rights of others, even unknowingly or by accident. Patents provide inventors the right to exclude others from using the technologies covered by the patent for a limited time. In exchange for exclusivity, inventors must disclose how to make and use the invention. An inventor can apply for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), as well as other intellectual property offices around the world.
Enforcement of trademark rights in China is an ongoing issue faced by numerous corporations. Invalidating or canceling a trademark registration in the Chinese market is time-consuming and costly. The best way to defend your company’s valuable intellectual property assets is to put in place as many protections as possible. If your company owns a creative design mark, consider going beyond the standard trademark registration and getting the “super trademark” by obtaining copyright registration for this artistic design element.
The ruling has wide implications for both the fashion apparel and home furnishings industry, both of which rely on distinctive, eye-catching designs to sell products. The upshot for clothing and furniture companies is that the Varsity Brands ruling gives product manufacturers an additional tool to combat knock-off designs. With that in mind, manufacturers should review their product line to ensure their copyright-eligible products are protected under this new standard.