Protection of intellectual property is vital for all Texas businesses, but some suffer from accusations of stepping over the line. A lawyer can help.

Bullying - especially in schools and over the internet - is a topic of discussion in the media with widely publicized anti-bullying initiatives and awareness programs promoted across the country. The Texas legislature created laws in 2012 prohibiting written, verbal or physical acts of intimidation in schools.

Additionally, numerous states are currently looking into creating anti-bullying laws in the workplace. Such laws would provide legal protections for workers who suffer from various forms of abuse at their places of employment.

Drawing the line

Within the business and corporate communities, "trademark bullying" has become a controversial issue. Trademark bullying occurs when a registered owner of a trademark attempts to enforce its trademark rights against another company or individual using unreasonable tactics. Unfortunately, determining when someone has stepped over the line is not an easy task.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) describes trademark bullying subjectively, prohibiting the use of harassment or intimidation beyond what would be reasonably expected under the circumstances. However, U.S. owners of trademarks are obligated to enforce their registered trademarks or risk losing their rights, and drawing the line between reasonable enforcement and bullying is often a matter of opinion. What may seem to be a courteous request to cease and desist to one company may be viewed as harassment to another.

Protecting intellectual property

In Texas, many individuals and entities do what they must to protect their intellectual property. Following are the most common forms of protecting such assets:

  • Trademarks: Trademarks are words, symbols or phrases used to identify a product or entity. The entity wishing to register a trademark must file it with the USPTO. Logos are common examples of trademarks.
  • Patents: Inventors, designers and creators of new innovative works obtain patents from the USPTO in order to obtain exclusive rights to the innovation. The patent holder typically has the right to use, sell and create the patented invention for a limited period of time before it becomes the property of the public domain.
  • Copyrights: Copyrights protect tangible and original works such as art, written materials and musical compositions. Copyright registration is voluntary but there are some legal advantages to registering. Without registration, copyright protection of authorship typically last 70 years beyond the creator's death.

Consult an intellectual property attorney

In order to protect your business and individual intellectual property assets, consult an experienced attorney. A lawyer knowledgeable about patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret protection and registration can help.

Keywords: trademarks, intellectual property, patents