Houston Intellectual Property Attorney with More Than 30 Years of Experience
Effective strategies for establishing and enforcing your IP rights
Intellectual property (IP) is the claim to exclusive ownership of a product of human ingenuity and labor. Keeping that IP safe is essential if you are to realize the greatest return for your effort. Unfortunately, the world is full of counterfeiters who produce low-priced knockoffs, pirates who reproduce IP for distribution without authorization, and infringers who use unlicensed IP to further their own business interests. For more than 30 years, attorney Paul Van Slyke has helped creators, inventors and businesses protect their IP and monetize it through license agreements. If you are the owner of valuable intellectual property or your business has been accused of infringing someone else’s IP, Mr. Van Slyke can provide the knowledgeable counsel and experienced court representation you need.
Understanding intellectual property law and related law
Different types of inventions or creations come with different forms of protection. Broad categories of intellectual property include:
- Copyrights — Copyrights protect original works of authorship and give the copyright holder the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt or distribute the work. Copyright applies to literature, music, visual and dramatic art, photographs, film and video imagery, and even computer software. Copyright exists at the time of creation, but actually registering a work with the U.S. Copyright Office affords the owner greater protection. If an unregistered work is infringed, the owner must prove damages to win compensation in court. However, if the work is registered, a court can award statutory damages. Copyrights run for the life of the author plus 70 years.
- Trademarks — A trademark is a distinctive word, phrase, symbol or design that distinguishes one company’s product or product line from its competitors’ in the eyes of the public. At common law, trademarks were acquired through use and could be limited to a geographic area where a company had a strong presence. Today, companies can register for protection with the United States Patent and Trademark Office even before a trademark would have earned protection through common law usage.
- Trade secrets — A trade secret is a formula, process, device or collection of business information that companies do not disclose, to give them a competitive advantage over others in the industry. Businesses commonly use nondisclosure and non-compete agreements to protect their trade secrets. The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 makes it possible to sue in federal court and to take extraordinary measures such as an ex parte seizure to protect trade secrets.
- Unfair competition — Unfair competition is dishonest or fraudulent acts in trade and commerce. It is especially the practice of endeavoring to substitute one’s one goods or products in the market for those of another by means of imitating or counterfeiting the name, brand, size, shape, color scheme or other distinctive characteristic of the article or its packaging. This body of law protects the first user of such a name, brand, size, shape, color scheme or other distinctive characteristic against an imitating or counterfeiting competitor.
- Internet — The internet has many applicable laws and regulations that require a legal compliance review. For example, if you allow users to post text, photos, videos, artwork and other content on your website, you are required to record with the U.S. Copyright Office the name, address, email address and telephone number of your designated agent for copyright owners to send DMCA Takedown Notices for such items under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You must also comply with all the state and federal laws dealing with false, deceptive and unfair acts and practices. Many industry-specific laws apply to websites for real estate, banking, finance, credit cards, etc.
IP infringement, unfair competition and lack of compliance with internet laws and regulations can inflict heavy damage on your company. To manage vitally important issues related to your company’s most valuable assets, choose a nationally renowned IP attorney.
Contact a reputable Houston lawyer to protect your intellectual property
Attorney Paul Van Slyke has the knowledge and experience to safeguard your valuable IP. To learn more about our IP services and schedule a consultation with Paul Van Slyke, call the firm at 855-552-8238 - Toll Free Number or contact the firm online. We have offices conveniently located in Houston and Austin, Texas.