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Information Center: Intellectual Property

At the law firm of Sanders & Parks, our attorneys are committed to helping you protect your intellectual property. In addition to offering you assistance in protecting your ideas and creations, we want to offer you guidance on how to maximize their value. Our lawyers have been helping people in Phoenix, Arizona, and nationwide for more than 30 years. From intellectual property registration to intellectual property litigation, our experience can work for you.

Contact one of our intellectual property law attorneys to schedule a consult

Robert J. Bruno

•  Rick N. Bryson

Benjamin K. Erlick

Garrick L. Gallagher

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Frequently Asked Questions about Intellectual Property

Q: How do I know what form of intellectual property protection is available for my work?

A: The form of protection depends on the work. Generally, you should seek a trademark for a name, symbol or other device that distinguishes your product. Apply for a patent if you have made an invention or discovery that is new, non-obvious and useful. If you have produced an original work of authorship in a tangible medium of expression, such as a book, computer program, visual artwork or motion picture, copyright is the appropriate protection. Information that you keep confidential for the health of your business, such as a formula or source code, may find protection as a trade secret.

Q: How "original" does my work have to be to merit copyright protection?

A: Although the work must originate with you in order to be eligible for protection, it need not be pioneering to earn a copyright. The level of originality required for a copyright is met if the expression is new to author, regardless of whether someone else had a similar idea before. If you coincidentally write the same poem as someone halfway around the world, you both have the right to exclude others from copying your poems. If you copy someone else's poem, however, you have no copyright protection.

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Intellectual Property - An Overview

Intellectual property law regulates the reproduction of creative and original works. When a work qualifies for protection, its author or creator has the right to exclude others from copying, distributing or otherwise using the work for economic benefit. Generally, intellectual property can be transferred, regulated and protected like other forms of property.

If you have questions about copyrights, patents, trade secrets or trademarks, contact an experienced intellectual property attorney from Sanders & Parks, P.C. in Phoenix, AZ.

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Copyright Law

A copyright grants its owner exclusive rights in an original work of authorship, including the right to reproduce the work; the right to adapt the work or to prepare derivative works; the right to distribute copies of the work to the public; and the right to publicly perform or display the work. The work must exist in a tangible medium of expression, such as a painting, novel or CD. Copyright law protects the expression embodied by the work, but not the idea behind it.

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Patent Law

A patent is a government grant of the right to exclude others from using, manufacturing or selling an invention, process, or design for a specific period of time, usually 20 years from the date the patent application was filed. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the granting organization. In order to receive a patent, the applicant must show that the invention, process, or design is novel, useful and non-obvious.

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Trade Secrets

The protection of trade secrets is essential to the health of countless businesses. A trade secret is business information such as a formula, pattern, method or device that has the potential to provide financial gain for its owner. The secret is kept confidential because it is the secrecy that gives its owner the advantage over other businesses. Generally, employees with access to trade secrets have a duty not to disclose them in a way that harms the owner. Unlike patented items, trade secrets do not need to be registered with a federal agency to be protected. Indeed, if trade secrets were registered as patents, they would be available to the public — and no longer secret.

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Trademark Law

A trademark is a word, symbol, name or other designation that identifies and distinguishes a good or service. Trademarks exist mainly for the protection of the consumer; the ability to identify the source of a good or service helps the consumer to confirm quality and authenticity. Trademarks also help businesses prevent competitors from usurping the goodwill associated with their products and services. Trademark law's origins lie in the common law on unfair competition, but statutory law has codified and expanded these protections.

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Intellectual Property Resource Links

U.S. Copyright Office
The U.S. Copyright Office site provides information on U.S. copyright law; how to register and license a copyright; and other pertinent information for owners of copyrights.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
This federal agency website provides practical information on applying for patents, registering trademarks and more. It explains federal laws, federal regulations and international laws and lists the procedures, fees and forms to apply for patent and trademark protection.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
As the government body responsible for monitoring deceptive marketing and unfair competition in the US, the FTC maintains information for both consumers and businesses on numerous commercial topics of interest.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
WIPO is a United Nations organization that promotes and protects intellectual property globally. This site lists its various activities and efforts; a searchable digital library of its international intellectual property data collection; information on its arbitration and mediation center; and information on how to file an application for a trademark registration with its International Bureau.

U.S. Department of Commerce
As the government body overseeing the Patent and Trademark Office, the Department of Commerce offers general information on patents, trademarks and the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).

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