Intellectual property is a valuable commodity. However, the available layers of protection don’t happen automatically.
What are you doing to protect your intellectual property? Have you or your business taken steps to protect your brand, innovative products, original software or other forms of intellectual property?
You probably know there are a variety of options to protect these valuable assets, principally, patents, copyrights and trademarks. But if you are not taking advantage of these protections, you are making a costly mistake.
All of these protections, with the exception of state trademark rights, are secured through formal registration with the federal government. These registrations provide you and your business with layers of protection for many types of intellectual property, as well as providing notice of your intellectual property to others in the market and to the public at large. For some companies, intellectual property is one of its most valuable assets, and can be leveraged against competitors both offensively and defensively.
Many people may not realize the disclosure of a novel product, process or design jeopardizes the ability to protect it. Depending on the circumstances, an inventor may be prevented from securing a patent if the invention was disclosed before filing the patent. Similarly, trade secret protection is lost when those secrets become publicly known. While many larger companies have policies addressing the use and disclosure of information outside the company, most individuals and small businesses do not.
Florida Statute 501.972 appears to be one of the first of its kind in the U.S., and in its seven years of existence only once has §501.972 been the subject of a published legal opinion. In 2010, BP solicited the public for ideas to stop the leak from the Deepwater Horizon rig that gushed oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. BP ultimately received more than 100,000 submissions from members of the public, and at least one person sued BP for compensation based on his submissions. However, a Federal Court recently ruled that the litigant’s claims based on submissions to BP were barred by Florida Statute 501.972.
Editor’s note: Ryan Santurri is a Florida Board Certified Intellectual Property Law Attorney. He advises clients in the areas of intellectual property and related litigation involving patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and right of publicity. He also provides trademark and copyright acquisition and counseling services. He has been involved in successful appeals to the Federal Circuit, including favorable appellate decisions on rulings from trial and from the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. [addmg.com]