If you’re part of the management of a Texas business that designs, creates, writes, or purchases intellectual property, it’s almost an inevitability that you will eventually discover that someone is trying to use your patented, copyrighted, or trademarked product without your permission. In some cases, there is no way to reverse the damage once the information is out there. Other times, your IP is only valuable so long as it remains a secret. This might occur when your company has been protecting an innovative new method or process that’s easily copied. Texas intellectual property attorneys can use a number of tools to assist you in protecting your trade secrets, computer programs, and written words. These techniques can either prevent IP theft or help you recover damages when it occurs.
Below is an overview of some of the methods that lawyers will use to safeguard your secrets:
Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks
Patents and Trademarks are awarded by the “U.S. Patent and Trademark Office”:http://www.uspto.gov/. Patents give you the exclusive right to your inventions, while trademarks protect your brand. Once you register your trademark, no other entity can use it on their product without your permission. Copyrights give you the exclusive ownership and right to copy literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works as well as some other intellectual properties. Copyrights are administered by the “U.S. Copyright Office”:http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf. A competent intellectual property attorney can assist you in registering your patents, copyrights, and trademarks with the appropriate government office.
Stays, Injunctions, Orders to Cease and Desist
When you discover that your intellectual property is being used by another individual, company, or other entity, the first order of business is to force them to stop. IP attorneys will often obtain an injunction or stay to stem the damage. Oftentimes, an emergency injunction can be obtained in the TX courts by your attorney in twenty-four hours or less. Most stays are temporary and additional legal action is usually required.
It’s difficult to keep secrets in the age of the Internet, but it’s also impossible for most companies to do business in isolation. Having your employees and business partners sign a non-disclosure agreement can prevent them from disseminating your intellectual properties to competitors, clients, and the general public.
When you work in a competitive industry, the employees and management that your company trains become all that much more valuable to your rivals. Departing employees can be a liability for your firm. You certainly don’t want one of your sales representatives to drive over to a competitor on the other side of Houston with your client list. Non-compete covenants are contracts that prevent your employees from taking positions in your industry, in a designated geographic region, for a specified period of time. For instance, if you own a Houston software development firm, you might require new hires to sign a non-compete agreement that requires your former employees to refrain from accepting employment anywhere in your industry, in the State of Texas, for a period of two years.
At the end of the day, your company may have to enforce the various protections that they’ve established in a courtroom. When your intellectual property rights aren’t respected by those outside of your company, it may be time for your business litigation attorneys to take your case to the Texas or federal district courts. No business ever wants to wind up in litigation, but it’s often the only way to protect your intellectual property when it comes under attack.
If your companies own the rights to any intellectual property, it’s to your benefit to constantly monitor your industry’s landscape for signs of unauthorized usage. Retaining the services of a Texas intellectual property protection attorney is crucial to any IP owner’s defense.