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San Francisco Intellectual Property Law Blog

Solid IP protection requires focus on the fundamentals

"Star Trek" fans appreciate the dangers of being a red shirt. In that universe, ship security personnel wear red and crewmembers in that color are the most likely to die on away missions. The trope has spurred a whole collection of paranoia jokes?

Security and paranoia seem to go hand in hand. And some security measures might come off as being rather hardnosed. But when it comes to protecting a company's intellectual property, we think most would agree there is no room for compromise. IP assets, while seemingly intangible, often are a business's most valuable resources and fear someone is out to get them is justified.

'Safe harbors' limit IP liability for online providers if …

Twenty years ago, the United States joined a caravan of nations entering the internet age. It did this by passing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Depending on what role you play in the online world, this law may be the bane of your existence or a godsend for securing intellectual property rights within the World Wide Web.

Copyrights are an integral part of the intellectual property landscape. And the DMCA seeks to ensure creators of original literature, art, software and more continue to enjoy ownership rights in the digital environment. At the same time, provisions in the law have triggered an explosion of portals through which information is widely distributed online by providing "safe harbors" to online service providers against infringement liability claims, but they require solid compliance.

What's Rule 11, and why should I care?

Time is money and the purpose of business is not to waste either commodity. Because it can cost money, courts don't like to waste time either, which is why Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure exists.

That rule requires that before filing any civil action plaintiffs must be sure they have legitimate basis for making a claim. If they don't, the matter can be thrown out and the filer can face sanctions that the court might deems appropriate to curb similar activity in the future. What this means in the context of intellectual property litigation is that IP rights holders needs to be quite certain alleged infringement has occurred before advancing a case. Here, a skilled attorney's help is invaluable.

You have technology rights. Do you have a monetization plan?

Having a patented technology is a significant intangible asset that can have a lot of potential value. Realizing that value in the form of actual revenue is a different story. Strategic thinking that leads to an overall plan for managing intellectual property is essential. And part of that plan needs to be a determination of what to do with any given patent.

Many might agree that It could be argued that with any given innovation there are three possible next steps: hold the patent without doing anything; sell and assign the patent to some other party; or license the rights in some way. Each has pros and cons. To be confident you make the right decision, it's wisest to consult first with an intellectual property attorney.

What conditions suggest the need for local counsel?

Just because your business is in one location does not mean that all legal disputes you confront will take place in that jurisdiction. We live in a global economy and the potential of legal action can come from anywhere in the world. If a dispute reaches the stage of a suit, the venue might not be your backyard, putting you at a disadvantage. When that happens, it's important to consider hiring local counsel.

This might be particularly necessary where intellectual property issues are involved. This area of law is highly detailed and technical by its nature and, these days, so are many of the issues that become the focus of litigation. Effective assertion and defense of IP rights depends not only on having skilled in-house IP counsel, but also enlisting IP attorneys who know the nuances of the system where a court action occurs.

Generic drug companies are embracing inter partes review

Branded drug companies release new drugs protected by composition of matter patents for the active ingredients in their products. Some of these patents are based on unique findings and can hold up for two decades. Down the road, companies may choose to file for supplementary patents to protect newly found formulas or methods of manufacturing.

On the other hand, some of these patents are granted in error or based on overly-general means. That is where generic pharmaceutical companies step in. Generic drug manufacturers challenge branded company patents, typically based on the fact that the patents are invalid or the generic version does not infringe on the patent.

What will it take to reach California's 'carbon-free' goal?

The world is now abuzz in the wake of Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of a law that sets California on a track to achieve the goal of being a fossil fuel-free state by 2045. Since taking that action, there have been calls from some quarters that China now needs to step up its game in this area. What reaction that will receive is impossible to gauge, especially in the current political and economic environment.

In putting pen to the page earlier this month, Brown acknowledged that reaching the ambitious goal will not be easy, or immediate. But he says it's something that "must be done." The question many now ask is whether the goal is reachable? Not surprisingly, opinions vary widely.

Why an IP strategy can be invaluable to your business

When you start a business, you have myriad responsibilities to manage. You need to take charge of all the basics to get your company up and running: developing a business plan, registering your company, purchasing property, hiring staff and marketing your services.

In addition, you also need to take steps to protect your company from intellectual property (IP) infringement. This task may seem overwhelmingly complex or less urgent than the others. However, managing your IP assets from the start is critical for your company’s security and success.

Humor may belie the seriousness of trademark infringement

We're sure you are familiar with the quote, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Depending on the circumstances it can be that. However, in the commercial sphere, imitation can be risky business. Intellectual property claims make this so.

If you have gone to the trouble of patenting your idea or trademarking a symbol, name, word or device, you have created a measure of value that warrants protection. That can be a challenge to undertake if your attention is focused, as it should be, on your business's success. Accomplishing the mission requires legal skill and due diligence, which reinforces the importance of working with experienced IP counsel.

How tech companies can fight back against “patent trolls”

Innovation is the heart of the technology industry in California. Tech companies compete to create new and better ways of doing things. By filing patents for new ideas, tech companies secure their innovations’ place in the system. So-called “patent trolls” found a way leverage this system to gain profit.

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