Intellectual Property

Using Licensing Agreements to Protect Your IP

An important tool for monetizing your IP is a licensing agreement. When exploring entering into a licensing agreement, it is important to understand how licensing agreements work and the common terms of a licensing agreement. Today’s post highlights what licensing agreements are and some of the common terms included in every licensing agreement.

How do Licensing Agreements work?

A license gives a person or company the ability to use another person or company’s intellectual property rights for commercial purposes. The licensing agreement lays out the terms and conditions under which the licensee (the one receiving the right to use the IP) can use the IP for its benefit. The agreement also lays out the compensation the licensee agrees to pay to the...

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Intellectual Property

Can Your Business be Liable for Posting a Link to Copyrighted Material?

Many types of businesses, namely those who operate blogs or otherwise deal in information, send links and post to copyrighted material. Many of these businesses are aware that merely posting a link to copyrighted material is not direct infringement of the copyright in that content; indeed, many of these businesses make a living off the advertising on their pages, which pages essentially offer as their only value a link to copyrighted material. This article is an attempt to identify the limits of the rule that posting a link to copyrighted material is not direct infringement, and to help indicate where pitfalls may lay. 

The General Rule

A federal court in New York  recently held that sending an email with...

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Intellectual Property

A Call to Reform Copyright Laws

I recently came across an article that made a call for a reform to the laws that govern copyrights, namely a return to the copyright laws in effect prior to 1978. I found the article especially interesting because it isn’t often that you come across people advocating for restoring laws from pre-1978. We’re a society of forward-looking individuals (or at least that’s what many of us claim) that rarely look to our past for the “best” answers. But this article makes a few strong points in advocating for restoring the prior copyright laws.

The author notes that creativity is central to the prosperity and progress of our society. She notes that copyrights give artists, authors, and other creators a financial incentive...

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Business Startup

iVLG News Roundup Week 28: Trademarks; Management; Taxation; Online Privacy; etc.

Trademarks

Hershey’s Granted Trademark for Bar Configuration The US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board granted Hershey’s trademark application for the design and shape of its chocolate bar. The Examining Attorney for the USPTO had refused registration on two grounds: (1) Hershey’s proposed mark was a functional configuration of the goods; and (2) it was a non distinctive configuration that had not acquired distinctiveness as required under Trademark Act Section 2(f), 15 U.S.C. § 1052(f). The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board overruled the examining attorney, finding that the configuration was not functional, and that it was sufficiently distinctive.

Hershey’s Trademark Application Hershey’s description of its mark: “The mark is a configuration of a candy bar that consists of twelve (12) equally-sized recessed rectangular...

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Business Startup

Due Diligence: Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Business’ Intellectual Property

An often overlooked part of purchasing a business is the transfer of intellectual property rights. Included in these rights is copyrights, trademarks, patents, and other non-disclosure rights. Today’s post details three basic questions you should ask before you purchase a business.

Can the business’ logo be transferred as part of the purchase? There are situations where even if the logo is transferable, you may not want to transfer it. If the logo infringes on the intellectual property rights of another business, you shouldn’t transfer ownership (since you would be liable for the infringement once you own the logo).

Furthermore, the logo may not be transferable if it is being used by the seller under a license agreement that does not allow for...

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Intellectual Property

The Copyright Exception: Works Made For Hire

At some point during the life of your business, there’s a good chance you’ll hire an outside worker, or an independent contractor. When you do, it’s best to have a well-drafted independent contractor services agreement that details the scope of services, wages, and other important details about the project. In addition, you’ll want to protect one of the most important aspects of your business, your intellectual property. Today’s post details the copyright issues related to a work “made for hire”—i.e. projects completed by an independent contractor. Understanding these key issues may protect you and your business from costly litigation over intellectual property ownership and interest disputes.

The 1976 Copyright Act Under the Copyright Act, a work is protected by copyright automatically at...

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Intellectual Property

The Stored Content Safe Harbor Provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

US Copyright Law To appreciate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it’s important to understand the broader copyright scheme. Copyright law protects a broad range of literary and artistic expression, including written works, photography, and videos. An owner of copyright protected material has the exclusive right to (1) make copies, (2) prepare derivative works, (3) sell and distribute the original and all copies or derivative works, and (4) perform and display the work. Copyright holders also have moral rights, including attribution rights and the right to prevent distortion.

What is the DMCA? Enacted in 1998, the DMCA is a United States law aimed at protecting intellectual property and preventing copyright infringement. The DMCA is a response to increasingly widespread internet usage and rapidly...

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Intellectual Property

Social Media Legal Issues: (Post Number 5): Copyright, Trademark, and other Intellectual Property (IP) issues

Intellectual property (“IP”) issues, particularly issues surrounding copyright law, are issues every business is likely to encounter when engaging with customers via social media. Copying and pasting a picture, song, video, document, or webpage onto your business’ profile to share via social media is easy. And many social media users are doing it.

Nevertheless, sharing “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium” (i.e. original content) created by others, unless you have explicit permission to do so, is usually in violation of the copyright laws meant to protect, and by extension promote, the creation of original content.

And intentionally or inadvertently associating your business, your products, or your service with the trademarks of another can open you to liability for infringement.

To...

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Business Startup

An Objective Discussion About the Advantages and Disadvantages of Hiring an Independent Contractor

Last week, we provided a brief discussion on properly classifying your new hires, and the various factors the IRS will use to determine the status of your worker. This week, we’ll dig a little deeper into the pros and cons of hiring an independent contractor versus an employee.

The Advantages

Save Money Perhaps the most important benefit that results for most businesses is saving money. By classifying your new hire as an independent contractor your business will not have to pay the various expenses associated with hiring an “employee,” including employer-provided benefits, employer-provided equipment and work space, as well as the required insurance and wage taxes.

Freedom to Staff Your Business According to Your Business’ Needs Hiring an independent contractor may offer you flexibility in...

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Business Startup

Creating a Social Media Policy?: An introduction to our series about the legal issues you should consider and how to avoid the legal hype.

At some point every business will need to decide whether to adopt a comprehensive social media strategy, including creating guidelines for employees to follow while using social media. While not every company will necessarily require such a strategy, the vast majority will benefit from adopting social media as a marketing tool. Accordingly, the vast majority of businesses will want to define how social media is used to promote their brand. And even those companies that decide not to adopt a comprehensive social media policy to promote their brand will still want to define how employees and others within the company must behave while using social media (even in their personal lives), in order to prevent costly social media gaffes.

The web...

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