International Intellectual Property Legal Blog

IP strategies are sometimes tax-motivated

In 2013, Uber grew from a $330 million company to a worth of $3.5 billion due to venture capital investments. However, before pursuing the additional funding, Uber’s co-founder decided to do some tax-planning. According to Fortune, the ridesharing company created a new business in the Netherlands known as Uber International C.V., which essentially moved the company’s intellectual property overseas.

U.S.-based Uber then created an agreement to split profits in half. Thus, when venture capitals sped up Uber’s growth process, it could legally avoid paying taxes on almost all of its non-U.S. rideshare income. Fortune reports that Google and Facebook employed similar strategies for similar reasons. In fact, American companies often find it easier to move their IPs overseas than relocating a physical subsidiary. For tech companies, where so much of their core business takes place online, there is hardly ever a need to attempt a physical move.

How not to accidentally invite intellectual property litigation

The common advice for companies that want to avoid intellectual property litigation is simply not to steal or appropriate another entity’s IP. However, there is one major problem with this advice; it is one-sided. What happens when the business owner is the one who gets their idea stolen? Or, what happens when an entrepreneur gets sued for creating and capitalizing on technology that bears a close but accidental resemblance to someone else’s?

Business News Daily notes that entrepreneurs often do not give enough thought to intellectual property rights. Because of this, they are often taken aback by the large expense these types of litigation can present for a company, especially a small one with fewer resources to draw from. When protecting IP, the first step is identifying what counts as IP and then utilizing the following tools where applicable:

  •          Trade secrets
  •          Trademarks
  •          Copyrights
  •          Patents

How inventors go from patent to licensing agreement

Filing a patent in America is easier and less expensive than it is in most other countries. However, it is neither easy nor cheap. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has several guidelines in place that inventors must follow or their claims will be rejected time and time again. One of the major criteria patents must satisfy is novelty. An idea must be new to be accepted. Commercial use of the idea, public disclosures and even articles may undermine the ability to patent an idea.

Another key contributor to success is the temperament of an inventor’s allies. Filing a patent is not a submit-it-and-forget-it system. It may require frequent follow-ups and tweaks, which tacks on time and money. This makes it especially important to work with professionals that are patient and can handle high-stress situations as well as high levels of uncertainty.

Are you unsure whether someone infringed upon your patent?

If your business relies on products that you developed, you undoubtedly took measures to protect them. After applying for and receiving patents, you expected your products to remain protected.

However, protecting your patents often hinges on you paying attention to what goes on in the marketplace. Your patent may not keep people from "copying" your designs, but it does give you legal avenues for relief if it happens. The first hurdle you may need to overcome is whether someone actually did infringe upon your patent.

This is the biggest risks for a company’s trade secrets

The most successful companies all across the globe have one main thing in common; they have secrets. In business, people refer to this as proprietary information. While there are other secrets companies may hang on to that could prove detrimental if released, perhaps none holds greater value than the company’s trade secrets. This may range from recipes to software algorithms and product designs.

In the information age, it is now increasingly difficult for companies and even governments to preserve their privacy. One 2015, CNN article shared a wide range of instances where hackers broke into top-secret systems, not to look for credit card information or to steal money, but to extract and then publish sensitive information.

What Apple can teach us about trademarking and secrecy

Apple has a way of keeping even their biggest secrets under wraps until it is time for their well-planned reveal. Because of this, the general public no longer believes “leaks” are unintentional, but they soak it up all the same. Everyone is eager to get a look at what Apple is up to, even when they have no desire to purchase an Apple device.

Even so, a company needs to register its trademark name to protect it just in case one leak turns out to be legitimate. So, how does a company pull this off when everyone is watching their every move? Business Insider notes that when it came to the iPad, Apple chose the ingenious route of using a British company named “IP Application Development LLC.” One look at the name will spell it out for you: I.P.A.D.

Photographers losing money to thieves worldwide

When it comes to international copyright laws, most of the focus tends to be on music and movies. Every so often a software company may also make the news. But, what about photographers? According to ABC, photographers are losing income to news agencies, travel agencies and other businesses who use their images with neither credit nor payment.

As with other types of media, the internet is the vehicle through which the thievery takes place. Many photographers who share their works online through social media or their website often find those images downloaded and reuploaded elsewhere. Photographers who continually pursue legal action have since been called “copyright trolls.” Many businesses complain that even when the infringement was accidental, rather than receive an initial request to remove the photograph, negotiations began with legal threats and a demand for licensing fees.

Do you need a plant patent? What about a utility patent?

Many people have an idea at some point in their lives that they believe could have significant impacts. You may have had an idea for an invention with which you decided to move forward. Because you know that risks exist for others copying your work or otherwise trying to benefit off your idea, you certainly want to understand your protection options.

When it comes to protecting an original invention, the safeguard you most likely want to put in place is a patent. Of course, different types of patents exist, and the process of obtaining one is not always easy. Still, it pays to gain information on your options in order to determine how you would like to move forward.

Does copyright protection cover digital content?

In many cases, it is easy to copy online content, such as digital photographs and text. As such, you may wonder if it is possible to copyright your online content and prevent others from using it without your permission. In most cases, you may protect your digital content from unauthorized use. If someone copies and re-publishes your original content without your permissions, these actions often constitute a copyright violation. In most cases, your content falls under standard copyright protection, no matter where in the world you created and published it.

According to FindLaw, copyright law tends to treat digital content in the same manner as traditional offline content. That means the law usually considers it a copyright violation if someone copies or publishes your work without getting your permission. In the United States, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act specifically states that copyright protection extends to online digital content. While you may want to place a copyright notice on your website or watermark your digital images, you do not have to do so to protect your content from unauthorized use. As soon as you create an original work and publish it online, copyright protection may begin. If you create a digital version of your original non-digital content, both forms have copyright protection.

What is special handling?

There are some circumstances that warrant expedited copyright. In this case, special handling is an option that allows faster processing of copyright applications when certain factors are present. Copyright.gov explains the rules and regulations surrounding special handling so you can determine whether you're eligible. 

Your special handling request must be approved by the chief of the Receipt Analysis and Control Division, which is a part of the Copyright Office. Special handling is granted based on three factors, which must be present for approval. First, you must show that you will be subject to future litigation. Special handling is also granted if you're facing customs issues, which may prevent you from conducting business in another country. Finally, special handling may be granted if there is an upcoming deadline related to a contract or other business venture. The office will also consider its current workload when reviewing a request. That means even if an applicant meets the criteria, he or she might still be turned down. 

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