intellectual property

Intellectual property is something of commercial value that the human mind conceives. It might be an invention, a literary work, a musical score, an architectural design, a drawing or painting, an innovative process or design, a performance, or a symbol that identifies the work and products of an individual or business entity.

Just as the law protects our right to keep and use our physical or tangible property, it also provides the means to protect one’s right to the fruits of the creative mind—one’s intangible or intellectual property. Intellectual property rights are similar to other property rights, allowing innovators the right to reap the benefits of their intellectual labors and the investment of their time and their efforts in the creative process, by means of:

  • Patents for inventions and innovative industrial processes;
  • Trademarks for symbols such as logos and slogans;
  • Copyrights for literary, musical, and artistic creations, performances, films, and broadcasts;
  • Trade secret protection for information or processes that your company has developed to obtain an edge over competitors.

Protecting the Products of the Creative Mind

The human mind is unique in its endless capacity for creation and innovation; the ability to create and innovate drives the evolution of human society to higher levels of achievement and the social, cultural, and economic developments derived from it that benefit us all. To encourage and reward the creation and innovation in technology, arts, and culture that contribute so much to the quality of life for so many, we have created laws to protect intellectual property for a period of time, to allow its owners to be rewarded for the time and mental effort they have expended to create something that enhances life for many members of society.

A Texas Law Practice Dedicated to Protecting Your Intellectual Property

At the Dallas, Texas law firm of Yee & Associates, we have dedicated our practice exclusively to helping those who invent, create, design, and innovate retain the rights to their intellectual property and the benefits it confers. We are committed to prosecution of intellectual property rights for a number of reasons. We believe that progress and the achievement of ever-expanding human potential depends to a great extent on the efforts of prodigious thinkers and creators, and that those who contribute so much to human society should be rewarded.

New inventions and processes stimulate economic growth, employment, and a richer life and culture for us all. We believe that economic growth and cultural enrichment hinge upon these endeavors, which must be encouraged and rewarded for the progress of humanity. We are proud to be in a position to provide the legal protection that makes innovation and creation of new technologies and artistic works lucrative and encourages ongoing investment in new creative endeavors in the arts, in literature, and in industry and technology, for the benefit of everyone.

Protect Your Intellectual Property Assets Now

If you are an inventor, designer, artist, musician, writer, performer, filmmaker, or innovator of any kind, if you have developed any type of intellectual property t and you need to protect your rights to your creation, Yee & Associates can offer you the experience and expertise you require. All of our attorneys are licensed and registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is a specialized legal qualification that goes beyond one’s license to practice law, and one that most lawyers lack. In addition, we have the technical aptitude and background that allows us to thoroughly grasp the significance of an invention or a process and its implications for the future of society.

Intellectual property law is all we do at the Yee law firm, and we are very good at it. We have a passion for innovation and are dedicated to providing the behind-the-scenes legal work that is necessary to ensure that those who create and innovate are able to enjoy the rewards of their intellectual labors. Put our experience and expertise to work for you to safeguard your right to the rewards that are rightfully yours. Call Yee & Associates today to schedule an appointment to begin the process of protecting your work, before you disclose any information about it to anyone.

PAtent prosecution and protection

A patent will give you the right to exclude anyone else from selling, producing, or using your invention for a specified period of time without your express permission.

There is an old saying that there is nothing new under the sun...but you know different. You have conceived of something new and different, something that will perhaps be life-changing for some segment of society, something that you believe has a market just waiting to be tapped. It is the fruit of your intellect and imagination, a unique invention that you feel has value to others, and you want to put it out there, make a difference, and of course, make money. So it is essential that you take every possible step to protect your idea and its execution. A patent will give you the right to exclude anyone else from selling, producing, or using your invention for a specified period of time without your express permission. The tradeoff is that you must reveal your innovation to the public by registering it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Your invention must be a new, original product or process with an industrial application that is not obvious. Obtaining patent protection requires going through a complex and difficult legal process, which requires the assistance of an expert in the field of patent law. It is absolutely not something you should attempt on your own.

Patents Require an Intellectual Property Law Specialist

Patent law is a highly specialized field. Everyone knows lots of criminal lawyers, personal injury lawyers, real estate lawyers, and business lawyers. But not every lawyer is equipped with the intricate knowledge of this extremely complex area of practice; in fact, relatively few lawyers are qualified to practice in this field. With so much potentially at stake, you will need to engage the services of a highly experienced intellectual property attorney with a legal practice dedicated exclusively to intellectual property law, in order to ensure that your idea is protected and that you will glean the rewards of the creative process that has gone into its conception. Prosecution of your patent and protection of other intellectual property is the exclusive focus of the attorneys of Yee & Associates in Dallas, Texas.

Definition of “Patent Prosecution”

What does “patent prosecution” actually mean in the world of intellectual property law? If you are a first time inventor, you may find the legal jargon pertaining to patent law somewhat confusing. In criminal law, “prosecution” is when a plaintiff, usually the state, brings charges against someone who has committed a crime. In civil law, it might refer to litigation instituted by a plaintiff against a defendant whose wrongful act has caused the plaintiff to suffer damages. In patent law, however, it has an entirely different meaning. Patent Prosecution is the legal process that you must go through to obtain patent protection for a tangible product that you have invented, beginning with an application to the USPTO.

Patent Prosecution vs Patent Litigation

Patent prosecution is not litigation; it is the process of writing and filing a patent application and working with the patent office to obtain the protection for your patent that you are seeking. If you hold a patent and someone has violated your rights under that patent, you might need to bring a legal action against the person who has violated it, which is called patent litigation, but that is another subject altogether. What you need at this point is to hire a patent prosecutor who is not only licensed to practice law but is also specifically licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A patent litigator is not required to have this license, and does not usually need the technical expertise required of a patent prosecutor. The patent prosecutor’s job is to guide the interaction between you, the inventor, and the patent office. This type of practice requires a detailed understanding of technological matters, exacting procedures, and extremely complex legal issues, as well as an awareness of possible pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Expert Legal Help in Dallas, Texas, for Inventors Seeking Patents

At the Dallas, Texas, law firm of Yee & Associates, we provide you with the experience, detailed knowledge, attention to minute detail, and creativity needed to negotiate with the USPTO examiner who must determine if your idea is patentable under United States patent law. All of our attorneys are among the relative few lawyers in Texas who are licensed to practice before the USPTO.

The acceptance of your idea is by no means automatic, and the initial determination may not be favorable. If the examiner issues what is known as an Office Action, stating reasons why your application cannot move forward to obtain a patent, we will prepare a thoroughly researched response to each objection in order to overcome any obstacles that impede the process. Many issues may arise, and the process can be harrowing. Any misstep along the way can be costly and, if not handled skillfully, could potentially stand in the way of your receiving your patent. Applying our experience and expertise, we are able to obtain favorable results for a large number of our clients who ultimately to receive a Notice of Allowance and a patent to protect their invention and allow them to realize the full benefits of their intellectual endeavors.

Experience, Commitment, and Creativity Produce Results in the Patent Application Process

Protect the invention you have worked so hard to conceive and develop—for yourself, your family, and your future. Contact the law firm of Yee & Associates to arrange an appointment to discuss your project and learn about the steps that must be taken to secure your intellectual property with a licensed and registered patent prosecutor. It is important to act quickly lest some other party should move to patent a similar idea. A delay could be deadly, so call the Yee law firm today.

copyrights

Copyrights protect original expressions of ideas in various forms, such as stories, poems, plays, dances, paintings, photographs, sculpture, sound recordings, architectural designs, software, and radio and television broadcasts.

Human creativity enriches our lives and culture. Writing a book, creating a work of art, producing a film, taking a photograph that captures a unique view of the subject, writing lyrics or performing a song, designing a building or structure unlike any other, developing a software program that can accomplish a useful task in a whole new way—these are just a few examples of many ways that talented individuals may express their creativity. Creative individuals deserve the right to the benefits of their work, and that is the purpose of a copyright under the law. The minute your creative idea makes the leap from your mind to some tangible medium: writing a story on paper, casting a sculpture, creating a blueprint for a building, recording a performance, and painting a picture are just a few of the many types of artistic creation are presented to the world for our edification and enjoyment. The catch is, in order for your creation to be read, viewed, utilized, or enjoyed by others, it must be made public, which opens up the possibility of someone else copying and capitalizing on your creation. In today’s digital age, with the availability of the Internet, copying has become easier than ever. To protect the creator from losing the right to the benefits of his or her creation while encouraging ongoing artistic expression for the enrichment of our society and culture, the U.S. Constitution and subsequent laws have been put into effect and a government office created to handle the registration of copyrights.

Claiming Your Copyright

A copyright does not need to be registered. Simply marking your original work with the word “copyright” or the copyright symbol, "©", together with your name and the year, serves to notify the public of your claim to the rights associated with the work. This means that legally no other person may publish, distribute, copy, or adapt your work without your authorization, except to a limited extent in what is known as “fair use,” for purposes of commentary, criticism, or parody; reporting in the news media, listing in search engines; research, and scholarship. U.S. copyright law protects your unique expression of an idea, but not the idea itself. A copyright protects your work for the duration of your lifetime plus seventy years, or 95 years from the publication date in the case of a corporate or anonymous work. At the expiration of your copyright, the work enters the public domain where it can be used freely. Registration of Copyright Confers Additional Protections

Although registration of your copyright is not a legal requirement, registration of the work with the Copyright Office is required should you need to bring a legal action pertaining to your rights in a federal court and offers certain other advantages, such as the ability to recover damages and attorney fees associated with a lawsuit for infringement of your copyright.

Examples of Copyrightable Works

These are a few types of works that are eligible for copyright protection:

  • Novels, stories, poems, lyrics, original compilations, musical scores, graphic art, paintings sculpture, architectural designs, software
  • Films, broadcasts, and audio-visual productions
  • Sequels or derivatives of copyright protected works

Unoriginal works such as government publications and telephone directories, cannot be copyright protected, nor can something that is in the public domain.

How an Experienced Intellectual Property Attorney Can Help Secure Your Rights

Not everyone needs an attorney to assist with the registration of their copyright. But when the material has the potential of having significant commercial or cultural value, it is a good idea to engage the services of an experienced intellectual property lawyer to ensure that it is protected, and that your legal right to damages has been preserved in the event that someone should attempt to profit or otherwise benefit illegally from your work. You will appreciate the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the registration of your copyright has been completed properly and that you will be able to take any legal steps necessary to defend that right.

At the Dallas law firm of Yee & Associates, we will:

  • Submit a copy of your work to the Library of Congress
  • Provide you with the benefits of our legal expertise and thorough knowledge of the intricacies of federal copyright law, to ensure that your rights are protected in all conceivable circumstances
  • Maintain strict confidentiality at all times
  • Advise you of your rights, ensuring that you understand how those rights will affect the future of your endeavor, and assist you in making decisions concerning the commercial application of your copyrighted material, providing you with an understanding of important issues that may affect your rights, such as work for hire, fair use, derivative works, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
  • Provide targeted, personalized service, specific to your unique needs, to an extent that is not available in larger more impersonal law firms

Obtain Copyright Assistance in Dallas, Texas

To learn more about how our experienced, knowledgeable, licensed, and registered intellectual property attorneys can help you to protect your work, call the Dallas, Texas, law firm of Lee & Associates today to arrange for a free telephone consultation.

trademarks

You’ve worked hard to create a reputation for your business by consistently providing a quality product or service. It is important to the long term success of your business that your customers can identify your products, distinguish them from those of your competitors, and buy them with the confidence that your company can be relied upon to deliver the quality that they want.

To this end, you have undoubtedly worked hard to create a brand, an eye-catching logo, and a pithy slogan by which your customers will be able to quickly identify your offerings. These signs that identify your business and its products or services as distinct from others comprise your trademark. In a competitive business environment, a trademark that signifies excellence to your consuming public is gold.

Trademark Registration

A trademark symbolizes the unique characteristics of your business and the quality that you work so hard to deliver. So naturally you will want to protect any art work, advertising phrase, or brand name that connects your customers to you and what you provide. You can do this by registering your trademark with the State of Texas and the federal patent and trademark office (USPTO), assuming it meets certain legal requirements:

  1. Your trademark must already be in use before you submit your application. If you are applying for registration in Texas, it must be in use in the State.
  2. Your trademark must be distinctive.
  3. Your trademark must not be similar enough to any other currently registered with the Texas Secretary of State office or the USPTO that it might cause confusion or deceive a potential consumer.

Why You Should Register Your Trademark

If you close not to register your trademark, you still have certain common law rights to its benefits. By affixing the trademark sign (™) to your work, you are giving constructive notice to the public of your claim of ownership of the mark. Registration of the trademark gives you added benefits:

  • Registration creates a legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and exclusive right to use the mark;
  • Registration gives you the right to bring a legal action concerning the trademark in state or federal court;
  • Your federal registration can be used as a basis for obtaining registration in other countries;
  • Your federal registration allows you to file with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation foreign goods infringing on your trademark rights.

The Importance of Using a Texas Trademark Attorney for State and Federal Applications

Having an intellectual property attorney assist you with your application is always beneficial. Your application must be examined to determine that it meets all legal requirements. Many applications, particularly those filed without qualified legal assistance, are denied. A successful trademark application requires significant research and specific knowledge of a complex process, which you will find when you engage the services of a dedicated intellectual property attorney, such as those who practice at the Dallas, Texas, law firm of Yee & Associates. The processing of application for trademark registration can take time, and obstacles often arise. Having an attorney who is specifically licensed and registered to practice in this complex area of law before the USPTO can expedite the process and prevent a rejection of your application by the examiner. When one does occur, your lawyer will be able to respond to the stated reasons for the rejection and work through the issues with the examiner in order to successfully complete your registration. Most attorneys lack this specialized licensing and USPTO registration, which is in addition to a regular license to practice law in Texas, so make sure you hire a licensed and registered specialist, such as the attorneys of Yee & Associates.

Dedicated to Intellectual Property Law

At Yee & Associates, our law practice is dedicated exclusively to protecting the intellectual property of our clients, including patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights, and other complex issues in this challenging practice area. We are licensed and registered to practice before the USPTO and bring to the table the expertise that comes with years of experience assisting and protecting inventors, business owners, artists, and others whose intellectual endeavors are so important to a dynamic economy. Protect the fruits of your labor by contacting the Yee law firm today. Taking the important step of registering your trademark now can save many problems, including the loss of business value and the need for litigation should infringements occur down the road.

Telecommunications

Intellectual Property Protection in an Age of Burgeoning Dominance of Telecommunications

The expanding telecommunications industry has resulted in challenges for both innovators of technological applications and owners of various types of content that is disseminated by them, creating a need for legal assistance for both individuals and companies who create the means of distribution and those who create the content that is being made available.

Technological Innovations in the Telecommunications Industry

The telecommunications industry is among the world’s fastest growing industries, with and explosion of new wireless technologies and means of data transmission, including fiber optics, wireless networks, satellite transmission, and more. These revolutionary and innovative technologies are being conceived and produced at an unprecedented rate and require intellectual property protection. No time can be lost in protecting your intellectual and creative assets if you are to maintain your competitive advantage. The Dallas, Texas, intellectual property law firm of Yee & Associates, with our team of specialists licensed and registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), are available to pursue the patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret protection that is essential in a world and industry facing such rapid change.

Digital Piracy and the Need for Copyright and Trademark Protection

As broadband infrastructure facilitates copyright and trademark infringement and digital piracy, the film, music, publishing, gaming, and television industries are increasingly at odds with Internet service providers. The intellectual property attorneys of Yee & Associates offer our clients our targeted knowledge of telecommunication issues, including knowledge of network regulation and content property rights affected by existing and emerging technologies, as they apply radio and television broadcasting, the press, the Internet, and broadband mobile communications. We are skilled and effective in pursuing patent, copyright, and trademark protection for clients in all areas relating to the management, development, and protection of content produced for dissemination via telecommunications channels and information technology.

Whether you are innovating new telecommunications technologies or producing material that will be distributed by such technologies, our technology, media, and telecommunications intellectual property specialists advise and assist corporations in technology, communications, entertainment, media, and consumer marketing regarding pressing matters related to the securing of intellectual property in our digital age. We work closely with each client to protect their intellectual property assets and advise on all aspects of law relating to patents, copyright, trademarks, design, domain name issues, and confidential information.

Get the Legal Help You Need to Secure Your Intellectual Property Rights

In an environment that is becoming increasingly dominated by electronic communications, diligent pursuit of protective strategies for intellectual property conveyed by these means is a compelling need. At Yee & Associates, our attorneys have the specialized skills, legal knowledge, and technological expertise to develop personalized, comprehensive solutions that are targeted to your need to secure your rights to your intellectual property and its commercial applications. Call today to arrange for a free telephone appointment to learn how we can help.

ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS AND SEMICONDUCTORS

Semiconductors, or “silicon chips,” are an essential component in a vast array of electronic equipment with applications in everything from computers, to cars, to mobile phones—right down to identifying lost pets!

A semiconductor performs an electronic function and consists of two or more layers, containing material forming a fixed pattern. The design of the pattern or arrangement of patterns is known as the semiconductor topography. The topography or design of any semiconductor product is a form of intellectual property rights, the use of which needs to be protected by law. In 1984 the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984 (the SCPA) was enacted as law to protect the topography of semiconductor chips. The SCPA is neither a copyright or patent law, but is in a class by itself ―a sui generis law containing some similarities to both copyright and patent law while being entirely distinct from either.

Obtaining semiconductor topography protection under SCPA requires submitting an application with a clear and thorough description of the topography of the chip, identifying material—typically a graphic or photographic depiction of the chip’s layers, along with its specifications― which must be examined by the Patent Office and undergo a national and international screening. The registration must be completed within two years of the first commercial use of the chip.

The SCPA confers rights to the “mask work,” defined by the Act as “a series of related images, however fixed or encoded (1) having or representing the predetermined three-dimensional pattern of metallic, insulating, or semiconductor material present or removed from the layers of a semiconductor chip product; and (2) in which series the relation of the images to one another is that each image has the pattern of the surface of one form of the semiconductor chip product.” The protection lasts for a period of ten years, allowing the owner to sue for infringement in a federal district court during that time. The owner’s rights include the right to reproduce the mask work, to import or distribute a semiconductor chip product containing the mask work, and to induce or knowingly to cause another person to do either of the above.

The SPCA protects the chip’s topography only; its functionality must be protected by patent, while the information stored in the chip is protected by copyright.

If you have designed a chip and want to avoid illegal copies, contact the intellectual property law firm of Yee & Associates in Dallas Texas to assist with the registration process. All attorneys at the Yee firm are licensed and registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

hardware and cyber security

Computer technology is in a state of constant change. As new ideas, designs, and functionalities become available, those whose intense efforts to innovate and advance the state of technology need to secure the rights to the fruit of their creative labor by patents, copyright, and trademarks.

New Challenges in Intellectual Property Law Posed by Hardware/Software Integrated Systems

Traditionally, intellectual property protection of the complex electrical equipment that makes up computer hardware has been based primarily on patents, as opposed to software, which is more often protected by copyright. But new systems are emerging in the information technology arena, involving the integration of hardware and software, with complex structures and algorithms that must be patentable to protect the rights of the developers who, after investing years in creating these innovations, need to be able to enjoy the competitive advantage in the marketplace that their work was performed to achieve. This requires the professional services of an experienced, licensed, and registered intellectual property attorney with the technical understanding to obtain the greatest and most appropriate protection the law allows for the inventor or designer.

Cybersecurity

With so much business now being conducted online, hacking into individual, corporate, and government computer systems has become rampant. It can threaten the energy grid, manufacturing facilities, financial network, and classified information on government computer systems. Consequently, there is a rush on to develop and produce hardware and integrated systems of hardware and software that resist this type of penetration. At Yee & Associates, we understand the importance of acting quickly on patents for new discoveries, systems, and security related innovations. We have the specialized legal experience and technological expertise to present patent applications that will pass the most rigorous examination, and which are resistant to attacks on their validity or enforceability, to provide the high level of protection required of these valuable business assets.

Technologically Trained Intellectual Property Legal Professionals for the 21st Century

In addition to their law degrees and certifications to practice before by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), our legal professionals hold advanced degrees in computer engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and information technology, an unbeatable combination of attributes, education, and experience when you need to secure your exclusive right to produce and control the use of the designs and products you have developed.

Technology moves at an incredibly fast pace. To keep ahead of the race requires constant innovation. Innovation, as a valuable business and financial asset, must be protected from infringement, copying, and misuse. An intricately detailed patent, copyright, and/or trademark application is your best protection. Call the intellectual property lawyers at the Dallas, Texas, law firm of Yee & Associates to learn how we can help.

software protection

The proliferation of computers and mobile devices has transformed modern society and has also created challenges to existing laws pertaining to intellectual property.

Protection of the right to the uses of software one has developed is an incredibly complex and controversial area of intellectual property law, which will continue to evolve along with technology. It is, consequently, a highly specialized area of legal practice—one requiring not only legal knowledge and experience advanced technological expertise, but also the creativity to develop arguments and analysis of existing case and statutory law that will provide you, as a software developer, the maximum level of protection available.

Applications for Mobile Phones

One area that is growing exponentially is the development of software for I-Phones, Androids, and Windows phones. The number of apps out there is huge. As of June 2016, 2.2 million apps were available for Androids, 2 million for Apple products, and another half-million or so for Windows phones. New apps are being developed every day. Around the globe, some 30 million apps are downloaded daily. Some of these are quite valuable, and their developers have every reason to want to protect their ability to profit from their work, making it important for app developers to maintain a relationship with a good intellectual property law firm.

Cybersecurity

The internet is a great tool as well as a booming marketplace. It comes with dangers to individuals, businesses, and governments, as hackers seem to be able to penetrate the most sophisticated of systems. Protecting intellectual property and personal information on the internet poses many challenges. Cyber security is a growing area of concern, and a lucrative career choice for security-oriented software developers. If you have written quality original cybersecurity software, you have created a product of immense value to assist in the protection of the intellectual property of those whose work is accessible through the internet. You have also created a commodity for which you will need to seek intellectual property protection of your own.

Whether you are a designer of apps for mobile phones, innovative computer software, or a cybersecurity program that can be marketed to protect confidential information and intangible property of businesses, individuals, or government entities, your work is a valuable asset, the use of which you will want to safeguard and control. If you have developed one or more software programs to which you want to protect your rights, you will benefit from hiring a law firm, like the Dallas, Texas, firm of Yee & Associates, whose technologically savvy attorneys specialize exclusively in intellectual property law, are licensed and registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and have substantial recent experience in this specific area of intellectual property law.

Choices in Intellectual Property Protection for Software Programs

Protection of intangible intellectual property rights with application to computer software comes in several forms: patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets, each providing a different type of protection. Whether one or another of these is an option available to you will depend on the specifics of the software you are trying to protect.

Patents

A patent allows the holder exclusive rights to the use and benefits of the patented property for a period of time, in exchange for public disclosure of the technology. Unlike a copyright, which will be discussed below, a patent can cover a new and innovative idea (as opposed to simply the creative expression of the idea). To be eligible for patent protection, any invention, idea, or process must be new, useful, and non-obvious. Patents have been obtained by software developers for ideas, systems, methods, program algorithms, and certain functions. However, recent Federal Circuit decisions have invalidated patents on software simply comprising a list of instructions to a computer as being too intangible to qualify for patent protection. If your software does qualify for a patent, it will give you the right to produce, use, or sell it and will protect you from infringement and independent development for the duration of the patent, usually 20 years.

Obtaining a patent for software is challenging. A common test often applied to determine eligibility for a patent is the “machine-or-transformation test” in which the software will be eligible for patent protection if it a.) is implemented by a particular machine in a non-conventional and non-trivial manner or b.) transforms an article from one state to another. This is not, according to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the exclusive test of eligibility. A creative and knowledgeable intellectual property attorney may be able to develop arguments for software that does not meet the conditions of the machine of transformation test.

Copyright

Copyright is the most common form of intellectual property protection for computer software. Copyright does not protect an idea itself, but only the creative implementation of the idea. The code you write implementing the idea may not be copied. The creative work must be developed independently. Copyright does not affect any purely functional aspect of the program or any aspect restricted by external factors to an extent that does not allow for significant creativity.

Copyright does not grant the same degree of exclusivity as a patent, but it does have certain advantages. It is simpler and less expensive to obtain and is not limited to 20 years, as a patent is. It does give you the sole right to copy the software, modify it, and make it available to the public by giving, selling or licensing.

To be legally protected by copyright, the program must have been developed independently. That does not mean two programs cannot have similarities. Two programmers may write programs that perform similarly, but each has developed their code independently. Or they may implement a standard algorithm and end up writing similar code, but each program would be individually protected by copyright without infringing on the other, as long as it was independently developed and not copied.

You can claim your right to your work simply by affixing the standard copyright mark―©. But you will have additional legal advantages if you register your work with the federal copyright office in the event that a lawsuit against infringement of your copyright becomes necessary at some point; therefore, registration is always recommended. Your intellectual property attorney can assist you with the registration in order to ensure that your work receives the full copyright protection you need.

Trade Secrets

Computer software may also fall into the category of a trade secret. Trade secrets are protected by state and federal laws. A trade secret is a process, formula, system, device, data, research or anything developed by a company that, as long as it remains unknown to others, confers a on its owner a competitive advantage. A trade secret can last as long as the owner of the trade secret makes a reasonable effort to keep it under wraps. Code and the concepts underlying it may fall into this category. Trade secret law will not cover any aspect of software that can be ascertained lawfully, for example through reverse engineering, or developed independently.

Trademarks

A trademark is a logo, slogan, or some distinguishing mark that identifies your product or brand to the public, so that purchasers can distinguish your work from others that may be of lesser reputation or quality. In the realm of software, an example is the readily recognized Microsoft Windows name and logo. Once you develop a trademark for your program, you can protect it by having your attorney register if with the Texas Secretary of State and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When registering your trademark in Texas, it must already be in use in the jurisdiction. It must be distinctive and sufficiently different from any other trademark currently registered with either the Texas Secretary of State or the USPTO that a consumer would not be likely to confuse it with any other.

Getting the Help You Need to Protect Your Software Design

Software as intellectual property is an exploding phenomenon. The law behind it is extremely complex and subject to interpretation and change. You need an attorney with both legal and technical expertise who is licensed and registered with the USPTO to practice this demanding area of law. In Dallas, Texas, you can get the personalized, experienced legal advice and representation in pursuing a patent, trademark, or copyright by contacting the law offices of Yee & Associates. We offer a free telephone consultation, so don’t wait; protect your valuable intellectual property now.

patent infringment opinions

If you have invented or are in the process of developing a new product or other potentially patentable intellectual property, there are a number of good reasons to seek a patent infringement opinion from a licensed patent attorney

Avoid Inadvertent Patent Infringement

First, you will be concerned over whether your product or process is going to infringe on any other currently active patents. If so, the potential exists for you to be sued for infringement of someone else’s patent. This type of opinion is called a “right-to-use opinion,” also called a “clearance opinion.” It is a good idea to contact a licensed and registered patent attorney to obtain an opinion on the patentability of your idea. The attorneys at Yee & Associates in Dallas, Texas, are licensed and registered with the federal United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and have years of experience investigating existing patents and rendering opinions on whether your idea is one that you can move forward with without worrying about legal consequences. Contact our office to discuss how this service can help you make a decision on how to proceed before you are too deeply involved financially in the development of your invention. You might need to rethink or even back off on the idea altogether.

Obtain a Non-Infringement Opinion Regarding a Particular Patent

If you are aware of a particular patent held by a competitor that is similar or in some way related to your idea and are concerned that it might infringe on that patent, Yee & Associates can research the matter. If in our professional legal opinion there is no infringement, we will provide a non-infringement opinion, giving you the confidence to continue developing your invention. If, in our expert opinion, there may be an infringement on the patent in question, we can suggest alternatives. Sometimes a change in design can solve the problem. In other cases, we may investigate the validity of the patent in question. If we uncover issues of validity or enforceability, you may decide to move ahead. Or, we might suggest that your best course of action would be to obtain a license for the conflicting patent.

Determine if a Patent You’ve Been Accused of Infringing is Valid

If you have already been accused of patent infringement by another party, this is another situation where that Yee & Associates can investigate to determine if there are grounds on which to challenge the validity or enforceability of that patent. If there are, you may want to litigate the matter. On the other hand, if in our opinion, the other party’s patent is valid and enforceable, rather than entering into an expensive and time consuming litigation that you might not win, you might choose to try to negotiate a licensing agreement with the owner of the patent.

Defend against Charges of Willful Patent Infringement

Obtaining a patent infringement opinion from a licensed and registered patent attorney like Yee & Associates can protect you in the event that you are sued at some later point for patent infringement. If it can be shown that you willfully infringed on someone else’s patent, the court may order you to pay up to triple the actual damages the plaintiff suffered. If you have had the foresight to obtain a patent opinion before moving forward with your process or invention, and that professional legal opinion was in your favor, it can be brought up as a defense against a charge of willful infringement, showing that you did your due diligence and that the infringement was unintentional.

If You Believe Someone is Infringing on Your Patent

Another time you would need an infringement opinion from Yee & Associates is if you hold a patent and believe that someone else is infringing on it. If our investigation indicates that there is an infringement on your patent, we will be able to render an infringement opinion that would serve as the basis for a civil law suit against that party, should you decide to go that route.

Obtain the Legal Patent Opinion that Can Protect You from Infringement or Infringement Accusations

Patents comprise an extremely complex and specialized area of law. Because your idea for an invention or process is a valuable asset, it is in your best interest to obtain a professional opinion from the law firm of Yee & Associates. Call us to arrange for a free consultation with one of our licensed, registered, and experienced patent attorneys early on, to avoid the many expensive pitfalls that could arise down the road.

trade secrets

A trade secret is confidential business information which provides a company a competitive edge. Trade secrets may be manufacturing secrets or commercial secrets.

In a capitalist society, every business must find its own competitive edge if it is to be successful. It may be a particular formula or a special recipe—think MacDonald’s “special sauce” on its Big Mac. Or it may be a unique process, a formula, a process, a customer list, a marketing strategy, an as yet unpatented invention, research results, a bid on a contract, data, non-public financial information, or any other information that, as long as it remains undisclosed, gives the company an edge over its competition.

Characteristics of a Trade Secret

A trade secret has three characteristics:

  • It is not knowledge that is available to the public.
  • It gives the company that possesses the information an economic benefit that it would not otherwise have if the secret were known.
  • The company makes a diligent effort to preserve the secrecy of the information.

Specifics of the law governing trade secrets are determined by each state.

Trade Secret Law in Texas

The Texas legislature passed a law that went into effect in 2013, the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act or TUTSA, that provides expands the definition of trade secrets from the previous law and gives added protection from actual and threatened misappropriation of trade secrets in the form of injunctive relief. The law also allow the court to award legal fees in legal actions involving the misappropriation of trade secrets, and eliminates the requirement of the old law that the secret must have been in continuous use at the time of its misappropriation. This gives much more legal clout to companies whose trade secrets have been stolen and used wrongly by someone seeking to gain a financial advantage or to harm the competitive position of the owner of the secret.

Legal Measures to Protect against Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are part of a business’s intellectual property and may be an extremely valuable asset. Companies need to take steps to protect themselves.

Before misappropriation of trade secrets ever becomes a problem, a company should consult an experienced intellectual property attorney to help create safeguards against theft of proprietary information. For example, your IP attorney may draft agreements to be signed by employees, licensees, vendors, board members, or even principles of a company who have access to information that affects its competitive position, which could present a disclosure problem if the relationship should end.  Carefully drafted and legally binding non-compete, non-disclosure, or work-for-hire agreements (assigning the company the rights to that employees work product) as a condition of employment can go a long way toward mitigating the risks of disclosure of trade secrets.

In some cases, certain types of trade secrets can be protected by patents. However, patents are of limited duration and require public disclosure, whereas trade secrets are indefinite in duration and not disclosed. You should discuss the various means of protecting your company’s intellectual property with an attorney who specializes in this highly complex and demanding area of law to determine the type of legal protection that best meets your company’s needs.

Getting the Advice and Assistance Your Company Needs to Protect its Intellectual Property

If you are engaged in a business where innovation, research, or other types of confidential information are an essential element of your financial success, you need to have a plan and system in place to prevent the misappropriation of your trade secrets and other intellectual property. At the law firm of Yee & Associates in Dallas, Texas, we specialize in helping business owners create a system of security and legal safeguards to protect these valuable business assets. We pride ourselves in delivering personalized service, solutions customized to your business’s unique needs, and top quality work, performed on time and at a reasonable price. Call Yee & Associates for a free phone consultation with one of our registered intellectual property attorneys to learn more about how we can help you secure your intangible assets, in order to protect the ongoing success of your company.