Intellectual Property

The Trademark “Spectrum of Distinctiveness”

Trademarks are words, names, symbols and other branding that distinguish and identify the sources of goods or services. Not every trademark is created equal, however, and the trademark “spectrum of distinctiveness” affects the level of protection the trademark receives. Distinctive trademarks are rewarded because they help consumers understand which goods and services come from where, thereby ensuring that consumers know who they are dealing with and (at least in theory) receive consistent quality. Generic terms are not protected because, in essence, they would interfere with the public’s ability to effectively identify the source of different types of goods and services.

So what makes a trademark distinctive?

Distinctive trademarks share three qualities. First, they are different from other marks used to describe similar goods...

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Business Startup

Seattle Welcomes to Town “Startup Studio” Pioneer Square Labs

Startup accelerator? Nope. Startup incubator? Nope. Venture fund? Nope. Pioneer Square Labs is a “startup studio,” with its sights set on helping entrepreneurs develop ideas and then validate or crush them.

Started by several prominent Seattle-based entrepreneurs, investors, and technologists (including co-founders Geoff Entress, Greg Gottesman, Mike Galgon, and Ben Gilbert), Pioneer Square Labs just raised $12.5 million from from 13 venture capital firms and over 50 angel investors. The prominent venture fund Foundry Group led the round, with its managing director, Brad Feld, taking a seat on PSL’s board. The headquarters for its operations are currently on the fifth floor of the Galvanize building in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle.

Pioneer Square Labs offers Seattle startups and entrepreneurs access to several invaluable resources, including proven...

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Intellectual Property

The Low Down on End User License Agreements (EULAs)

If you’ve used the Internet any time recently, you’ve likely had to click “I accept” or “I agree” in order to use a particular website or software application. Typically, you are accepting and agreeing to an “end user license agreement.” As a software developer, it’s incredibly important to protect the intellectual property behind the software, as well as reduce as much liability as possible. These end user license agreements spell out the terms of the license for your use of the particular software. Today’s post highlights some of the key characteristics of end user license agreements.

What is an end user license agreement?

An end user license agreement (EULA) is an agreement between a software developer or author and an individual or...

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Business Startup

News Roundup: Glowforge 3D Printers; Geekwire Summit; and Venture Capital

What we’ve been reading this week at InVigor:

Glowforge, a Seattle based startup, opened up sales for 3D laser printers yesterday. They hit $1 million in just 12 hours.

The GeekWire Summit is next week. The conference convenes business leaders, engineers, investors and innovators for conversations about the future of business and technology.

Pragmatic advice from the Health Innovation Summit for aspiring healthcare entrepreneurs.

Copyright law: If a monkey takes a selfie, who owns the copyright?

Sweden has is experimenting with a 6-hour workday, proving working smarter is better than working longer. Could the U.S. ever adopt this kind of system?

4 angel-certified steps to get your startup off the ground without any venture capital

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Intellectual Property

What are Common Law Trademark Rights?

Trademarks can be an extremely valuable asset for your business. Think about the value tied to Nike’s Swoosh or the McDonald’s “golden arches.” Protecting the value behind these trademarks is one important step towards building a wall around your company’s intellectual property. Many people don’t realize that certain trademark rights arise automatically once you begin using a trademark. Today’s post highlights these automatic rights, also known as common law trademark rights.

Common law trademark rights versus registered federal and state trademark rights

“Common law” is a term for the rights that have developed through case law versus statutes or codes. Common law trademark rights arise automatically and give the owner of a particular trademark certain rights (see below) without the need to...

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Business Startup

News Roundup: Chicago Women Entrepreneurs; Amazon Under Fire; and Historical Heroes

What we’ve been reading this week at InVigor:

Chicago is the top city for women entrepreneurs in the world.

Today marks 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This article reminds us that natural disasters are far from equal-opportunity catastrophes

Amazon under fire, but has yet to yield same day shipping for all products

US National Labor Relations Board is redefining what it means to be an employer

4 amazing charts from historical heroes. Everyone loves a good chart

This man spent a month replying to all his PR emails with “I love you”

Flickr I Photo: Liquer Felix

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Corporate Finance & Securities

Amendment to Stock Legend Guidance for Restricted Securities

Recently, the Securities Division of Washington’s Department of Financial Institutions  adopted amendments to WAC 460-44A-502 to provide stock legend guidance for restricted securities.

The adopted amendments remove a reference to an outdated North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) guideline and instead provide the suggested language for the legends in the text itself. A “legend” on a stock certificate is a statement noting restrictions on the transfer of the stock, often due to SEC and state requirements for unregistered securities.

The new suggested legend language in Washington state is as follows:

(d) A written disclosure or legend will be deemed to comply with the provisions of WAC 460-44A-502 (4)(b) or (c) if it states:

“(i) These securities have not been registered under the Securities Act of...

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Business Startup

News Roundup: Avvo Raises Cash; Closing the Gender Gap; Microsoft Maternal Leave

August 7th, 2015 News Roundup

Here’s what we’ve been reading this week:

15 Free Online Learning Sites Every Entrepreneur Should Visit  Some very helpful (and free) resources

Legal Advice Startup Raises $71.5M Yay Avvo!

Closing the Gender Gap in Leadership Starts with You

Identify Your Entrepreneurial Personality Type A short and insightful assessment to identify your entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses

Google’s New Update tells you when places are busiest. Great for the busy summer weekends!

Jon Stewart’s 5 Best Interviews on Entrepreneurship Don’t leave

Flickr I Photo: Zarko

Seattle’s Microsoft Now Offers 12 Weeks of Maternal and Paternal Leave Awesome ...

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Business Startup

LLC Basics: Appealing Characteristics of LLCs

Over the last 20+ years, LLCs have become one of the most popular types of business entity. Entrepreneurs find LLCs appealing because they offer limited liability, pass-through taxation, flexibility in management and operations, and have relatively simple statutory requirements. We’ve highlighted the “LLC basics” in today’s post.

Limited Liability Protection

Like corporations and other limited liability entities, limited liability companies offer owners (also referred to as “members”) protection against personal liability. If the owner of a sole proprietorship or general partnership gets sued, then their personal assets  are at risk. But if the owner of an LLC gets sued, the business assets would be at risk, but their personal assets will generally not be subject to the lawsuit.

Pass-Through Taxation

The federal government does not...

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