Michael K. Cantwell, P.C.

Intellectual Property and Media Law Attorney


Understanding Intellectual Property

Protecting Your Intellectual Property


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What Steps Should You Take to Protect Your Intellectual Property?

If you have not already done so, the first step is to identify the intellectual property that you own and assess its importance. An “IP Audit” can be either informal or formal (i.e., by engaging an intellectual property specialist).

The trademarks and copyrights that are important to you or your company should be registered with the appropriate governmental body and the ideas, inventions, formulas, know-how, programs processes, and research and development that are important to you or your company should either be patented (if deemed likely to be patentable) or protected as trade secrets.

Although registration is not required to establish ownership rights in a copyright or trademark (copyright exists from the moment a work is fixed in a tangible form and trademark rights are created from the moment a mark capable of distinguishing a product or service is used commercially, registration is advisable to ensure full protection of one’s rights.

For example, a copyright registration is a prerequisite to filing a suit, and although a copyright may be registered on an expedited basis, certain damages are not available for acts that occurred prior to registration. While registration is not a prerequisite to filing a trademark claim, a federal trademark registration is evidence of the owner’s exclusive right to use the mark throughout the United States on or in connection with the goods or services for which the registration has been granted. Without a federal registration a trademark is protected only in those jurisdictions in which it is being used in commerce.





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