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Common Intellectual Property Mistakes That Businesses Make

West Palm Beach Business Litigation Attorney 2023-01-26 16-48-30

If you are a business, and your business isn’t related to intellectual property – copyrights, trademarks or patents—then IP issues, and particularly avoiding legal problems related to IP, may not be the first thing on your mind.

But that’s how it happens; businesses that aren’t giving much thought or concern to IP issues, often are the businesses that end up in trouble with or because of them.

There are some common mistakes that the everyday business makes when it comes to IP, that can get them in legal trouble. These are not the obvious problems, like stealing someone’s artwork or painting a well known character on your wall. Rather, they are more common, but less obviously known problems or mistakes.

Taking Stuff From Online Sources

Remember that just because something is on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s yours to use. Even the seemingly harmless random picture of a sunset, or nature, belongs to whomever took the picture. In fact, even a picture of you, or your own business or property, doesn’t necessarily belong to you, it belongs to the photographer.

Avoid pulling stock images or graphics off the internet or from a google search. They could belong to someone else.

Work for Hire?

You can certainly have people who work for you create logos, designs, or pictures, that your business is going to use in its marketing campaign. But be wary of the work for hire doctrine.

Generally, if an employee makes the IP, it is yours as the employer, under the doctrine. But if it’s an outside company, or even a non-employee contractor, you may have a problem. Make sure you have a written agreement with anybody who doesn’t work for you, clarifying that whatever creative work they are making or drawing up with for you is a work for hire project.

Protecting Your Own IP

Do you have IP? You may have slogans, sayings, color schemes, or pictures that define you, your business or your brand. Nobody likes to rush into court at every legal problem-but the failure to enforce your IP rights when it looks like someone is infringing can be a big mistake.

You could make your trademarked property “generic,” by allowing it to be used freely, without enforcement, by anyone and everyone.

Failure to Register

Yes, dealing with the government is a pain, and you may not want to deal with hiring lawyers to protect your IP by registering it for you. But registering your IP gives you a lot of rights, if you ever have to enforce your IP against someone who is infringing on it.

You can get additional damages, and attorneys fees, making it more feasible, and easier, to file for infringement against someone who is using your IP. Registering also designates you as having registered first, so that the world (and the courts) know that you were the first to register, and thus that you are the rightful owner of the property.

Questions about your intellectual property?  Call the West Palm Beach business litigation lawyers at Pike & Lustig today for help.




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