Houston Intellectual Property Attorneys
Protecting the Intellectual Property Rights of Individuals and Businesses in Houston
When you create something with inherent artistic and commercial value, you deserve the right to exclusively use and benefit from that creation. Intellectual property law gives individual creators and businesses alike the ability to keep others, particularly competitors, from using your proprietary creations and intangible assets without your permission.
Whether you need help understanding your intellectual property rights, registering new creations, or enforcing a copyright, trademark, or patent, Potts Law Firm can provide the responsive, collaborative representation you need to achieve your objectives. Our Houston intellectual property lawyers are prepared to assist with enforcement actions if someone is exploiting your intellectual without your consent. Protecting your interests is our top priority, and our team will do everything in our power to secure the best possible result in any conflict.
If you have questions about how to effectively protect your intellectual property, call (713) 348-9638 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. Our firm offers same-day appointments and provides services in English and Spanish.
Types of Intellectual Property
The term “intellectual property” covers several types of intangible assets that provide value, including competitive advantages, to the individuals and companies that own them. Some intellectual property rights are conferred automatically upon the creation of certain kinds of intangible assets, but it is generally beneficial to take additional steps to register these assets with the appropriate regulatory authorities.
Our Houston intellectual property attorneys can assist you with:
- Copyrights. A copyright protects the “tangible expression” of an original work requiring artistic or mental effort. Examples of copyrightable works include films, music, written stories, poetry, visual art, computer software, and architectural designs. An original work automatically has some copyright protection when it is created, but you will need to register a copyright to gain the right to file a copyright infringement lawsuit against someone who infringes on your copyright. Copyrights expire after 70 years after the original creator passes away, no matter who owns the copyright. The only exception is “works for hire,” which occur when an employee creates a copyrightable work on behalf of their employer. In these instances, the copyright expires 95 years after it was published.
- Patents. Patents protect inventions that are novel, non-obvious, and useful. Utility patents protect machines, chemicals, and processes, while design patents protect the specific appearance of a manufactured product or a component of a product. Plant patents specifically protect manufactured plants. Patent protection is not automatic: A qualifying invention must be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Utility and plant patents expire 20 years after the date their applications were filed with the USPTO, while plant patents are valid for 15 years after the effective filing date.
- Trademarks. Trademarks protect “marks” that distinguish a company, product, or service. Logos, slogans, words, and symbols can all potentially be trademarked if they are sufficiently distinctive and are used (or are about to be used) in commerce. The person or organization who is “first to use” a trademarkable element in a given territory gains common law rights to that mark, but these protections are limited. Registering trademarks with the USPTO makes it easier to enforce your rights and expand into other geographic areas. Trademarks also do not expire so long as they are continuously used in commerce and certain procedural formalities proving this continued use are honored.
- Trade Secrets. A trade secret is proprietary information with economic value that gives someone or a business a competitive advantage because of its secrecy. In other words, information can only be considered a “trade secret” for purposes of intellectual property law if its economic value would be lost or greatly diminished when distributed to others. Furthermore, you must make an active effort to keep a “trade secret” secret. Examples of information that can be considered trade secrets include recipes, formulas, processes, ideas, and research. When trade secrets are accessed unlawfully, you have the right to take legal action and potentially recover damages. Many Texas companies use nondisclosure and non-compete agreements to keep proprietary information from leaking to the public or competitors.
Are you having difficulty registering intellectual property or enforcing your rights? Call (713) 348-9638 or contact us online to discuss your concerns with our experienced legal professionals.
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What Should I Do If Someone Is Infringing My Intellectual Property Rights?
If you have a valid and registered copyright, trademark, or patent, only you (or your organization) can decide how your intellectual property is used. You do have the right to license your intellectual property and give other parties permission to use it in specified ways. When someone exploits your intellectual property without your express permission, you must take steps to enforce your rights.
You could lose your intellectual property rights if you do not take sufficient action to fight infringement. Do not wait to get legal advice if you discover someone is stealing or misappropriating your copyrights, trademarks, patents, or trade secrets. Our team at Potts Law Firm can help you prepare and send a formal request to stop the infringement. If the infringement does not cease, we can explore additional enforcement actions, including filing a lawsuit against the infringing party.