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Houston Intellectual Property Law Blog

Entertainment lawyers offer more than securing copyrights

If you are one of the Texas residents who works in the entertainment industry, you may already diligently protect your creative works. By securing copyrights, you retain control over their use, receive royalties when you allow someone else to use them and go to court when necessary to protect them. You may use an entertainment lawyer to assist you in these tasks, but did you know that much more is covered by this area of law other than protecting your work through copyrights?

Anytime you deal with licensing issues for music, personalities, performances or more, you probably enter into an agreement with the other party or parties. If you wish to publish or record your work, you negotiate a contract with the producer or publisher. You work out a royalty agreement to ensure that you receive your fair share of the money made from doing so when you allow others to use your copyrighted material,.

Texas entrepreneurs beware of trademark scams

Many Texas entrepreneurs understand the importance of protecting their intellectual property. In an age where social media feeds, smart televisions and the like seem to know what you have been looking for when it comes to advertisements, it may not surprise them when they receive an unsolicited notice regarding registering a trademark or renewing one. The problem is that some rely on this trusting nature and attempt to defraud unsuspecting individuals and businesses.

Some companies offer legitimate services regarding the registration of trademarks, but some are less than honest. Even if you know your trademark requires renewal at a certain point, which is accurately listed in a notice, that does not mean it should be trusted. This information is usually readily available on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website.

Additional evidence for trademark registration may be required

Protecting intellectual property is a vital part of the success of any business. Making a company stand out among other businesses here in Texas often requires a trademark. Protecting it requires trademark registration, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may require additional evidence before granting a company's request.

In some cases, providing all relevant materials and documents could include a "specimen of use" from an applicant. This could be a product sample bearing the trademark if it pertains to goods. If it pertains to services, it could be a pamphlet, flyer or some other documentation bearing it. These real world examples provide an example of how a business intends to use it and could be a variety of objects or document.

Securing copyrights is big business in the entertainment industry

If you work in the entertainment industry, then you already know that it could quickly turn hostile. It does not matter whether you live here in Texas or somewhere else in the country. With so many people clamoring for attention from movie, television and music studios, some people's scruples take a holiday when it comes to stealing material from a fellow writer. For this reason, securing copyrights in this industry is crucial.

You have the right to control how your work is used and who uses it according to Texas and federal laws. Without the protection of artistic expression, the public would miss out on some amazing works. It does not matter if you are just starting out, you may want to take steps to protect your work, especially now when it could be at its most vulnerable.

Keep your business identifiable with trademark protection

How long do you think it will take you to get your business off the ground? More than likely, you will spend a significant amount of time getting your name out to your customer base. Once people know who you are, you will need some trademark protection in order to remain identifiable to those you provide goods or services to, whether just here in the Houston area or elsewhere.

If someone uses a brand substantially similar to yours, it could confuse consumers. You could end up losing customers, which could jeopardize the success of your business. On the other hand, another company may accuse yours of infringing on its trademark. In either of these circumstances, you will need to show that you have the right to the trademark and not the other party.

Can you trademark a sound?

Can you trademark a sound? The answer is yes, although it’s a difficult process.

When trademark law was established, it wasn’t envisioned that sound or colors or smells would be viable trademarks. The law doesn’t say you can trademark these things, but it doesn’t say you can’t.

Screenwriters can use stories in the public domain legally

The entertainment industry can be a difficult place to maneuver. After several decades of storytelling, it may seem as if there is not much more to be explored with completely original content. For this reason, the law allows screenwriters here in Texas and elsewhere to take advantage of stories that exist in the public domain and are no longer guarded by their original owners. The material could come from a variety of sources, including video games, comic books or other literary works, including other screenplays.

Knowing what content may be used without legal ramifications may not be easy to discern, however. Copyright laws do not protect some material. For example, the fact that a particular comet will pass by the earth on a certain date cannot be copyrighted. This type of information and detail may help with a screenplay, but fortunately, this information is not the only type that a screenwriter may use when creating a new work.

Watch for trademark registration and application scams

Many Texas business owners understand and value their intellectual property and take steps to protect it. This may include trademarks, patents and more. At present, a trademark registration or application may not be as protected as one of those business owners hopes due to a scam discovered recently.

On the afternoon of Oct. 19, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sent out an alert regarding an ongoing scheme to take control of trademark registrations and applications. The email notified stakeholders that unauthorized changes are being made by the hackers to active files. The changes are being made through the Trademark Electronic Application System.

New legislation seeks to stop patent trolls

New legislation has been introduced in Congress seeking to reform intellectual property rights. The Restoring American Leadership in Innovation Act of 2018 seeks to restore protections to patent holders by curbing abusive practices used by tech giants and large research and development firms.

These companies evaluate the risk of infringement litigation through a cost benefit analysis lens, weighing the pros of unauthorized use of the patent against the cost of obtaining a license. To the loss of patent holders, big players have decided it is most cost effective to steal the use of technology instead of licensing it. 

What trademarks can do for small businesses

Some small business owners might think that trademarks are only an important issue for large companies. However, it can be critical for business owners, whatever the size of their company, to give careful thought and consideration to the issue of trademarks. This is because effective use of trademarks could help with a variety of key business goals for companies big and small.

Trademarks can include a wide range of things, including slogans, symbols, logos and product names. As a recent Forbes article notes, there are many benefits registering and using trademarks could have for business owners. This includes:

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