Your creations belong to you as soon as they are “fixed in a tangible medium.” Similarly, trademark rights are procured by the use of the trademark in commerce. However, to protect your copyrights and trademarks, there are actions that you can and should take to improve or perfect your rights. At Lowe & Associates, we can help you navigate this complex legal field. Our copyright and trademark attorneys approach this area of law strategically and comprehensively to ensure your rights are upheld and protected.
We help clients whether you are a startup company, a well-established corporation, an entrepreneur or in the entertainment, art, or fashion industries, including, but not limited to:
- publishers, and
Contact Lowe & Associates to learn more about our process and method. We act proactively and tenaciously to address all levels of complex intellectual property matters. Our clients have been with us for years. They trust us because we deliver quality legal representation as much as we provide comprehensive and thoughtful legal advice. We can do the same for you.
Protecting your Intellectual Property through Registration
If you are what we call a “creative professional”, you want to maximize protection for your intellectual property. Also, if you are in business and have proprietary information or are developing or maintaining your brand, you want to have it protected. Protection begins with registration with the appropriate entity. We help our clients prepare documents and file the same with:
- The United States Copyright Office for copyrights; or
- The United States Patent & Trademark Office for trademarks.
We do not do patent law. However, the need for protecting your creative works, proprietary information, and brand is always of prime importance as intellectual property is often more valuable than tangible property. The internet has made it easier for creative works and proprietary information to be misappropriated. Generally speaking, registration of copyrights and trademarks ( as well as multiple other preemptive measures) improves your position when fighting this kind of theft, albeit not foolproof.
Even then, after you register, people may still infringe upon your intellectual property rights. Retaining a law firm that can handle both the protection and enforcement side of the process in case there is any infringement can be critical for many creative professionals.
Pursuing Infringement of Intellectual Property through the Courts
If your intellectual property, like trademarks or copyrights, has been infringed upon, Lowe & Associates will aggressively but strategically seek redress for the same. We may first pursue a settlement via negotiation, mediation, or arbitration proceedings.
But in many instances, we have to litigate directly and seek monetary and declaratory judgments against the appropriate persons or entities.
Contact Smart, Strategic Intellectual Property Lawyers in Los Angeles County Today
There is a lot that goes into properly protecting your IP. There is much more that goes into enforcing your rights including pursuing infringers of trademarks or copyrights.
At Lowe & Associates, we offer aggressive but strategic representation after exploring all creative solutions. Your work is your work. Your ideas are your ideas. Your brand is your brand. Keep it that way. Contact Lowe & Associates today.
Misappropriation of Name and Likeness
California Civil Code Section 3344 states that any person who knowingly uses another’s name, without their consent, for the purposes of selling, advertising, or soliciting, shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or person injured as a result thereof. Under this statute, any action brought under this section shall hold the person who violated the section liable to an amount no less than $750.00, or the actual damages suffered. Actual damages include any profits obtained through the unauthorized use of a person’s name or likeness. Depending on the facts of each case, a court may also impose attorney’s fees and punitive damages on the offender.
Throughout the United States, name and likeness is also protected through the Rights of Privacy laws. Within rights of privacy, there are what is commonly known as “publicity rights”. Publicity rights attach to persons who are famous, or whose name and likeness have value. Rights of publicity prevent the unauthorized commercial use of an individual’s name, likeness, or recognizable aspect of someone’s persona. An individual has the exclusive right to use his or her own identity and one who appropriates for their own benefit the name or likeness of another is subject to liability.
Misappropriation of Trade Secrets in California
California has adopted its own version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA). The UTSA is codified under section 3426 to 3426.11 of the California Civil Code. Under this section, a “trade secret” is defined as “information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that: (1) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to the public or to other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and (2) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”
Under California law, “misappropriation” refers to the acquisition of a trade secret through improper means – theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of a duty to maintain secrecy, or espionage. This includes the disclosure of a trade secret without the consent of the person who acquired the trade secret. A victim may seek financial compensation and, depending on the facts of the case, a court may impose punitive damages for egregious conduct.
California law surrounding trade secrets is unique when it comes to the employer-employee relationship. California law expressly establishes that the employer owns all trade secrets created by an employee when the trade secret is created in the scope of employment and involves the use of employee materials. (Cal. Labor Code Sec. 2860). However, an employer does not own a trade secret if the employee created the secret on his or her own time and without the use of any employee materials.
Theft of trade secrets is such a large issue that in 1996 Congress passed the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, making the theft of trade secrets a federal offense. The potential consequences of violating this federal statute include a potential 15-year prison sentence and up to $5 million in fines, depending on whether the thief is an individual or a corporation.
Under California law, an implied in fact contract claim based upon the use of ideas is commonly known as an “idea theft” claim. In order to recover for idea theft, the person submitting the ideas must establish that it was submitted under business circumstances, and not just “blurted out” where the defendant voluntarily accepted this disclosure under circumstances where there was an implied obligation to pay if the ideas are used. It is key that the defendant have had the opportunity to reject the offer prior to the execution of the idea. Thus, solicited submissions always meet the two requirements for idea theft. In contrast, for example, if a screenwriter emails his or her script to a production studio unsolicited, the creator may find him or herself with no legal recourse.
The Firm is recognized as one of the premier idea theft firms in California. (Death of Copyright: The Sequel, Steven T. Lowe (2012)). A recent decision in the firm’s favor can be found here.