Intellectual Property Litigation – Part I: Defending Creations of the Mind

Do you know your legal rights in Intellectual Property (IP) disputes?

Trademarks, copyrights and patents all differ.  A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work.  A patent protects an invention.  A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

Patent litigation is all in the news, and Hornberger & Brewer‘s attorneys specializing in intellectual property law are keeping a close watch on developments.

The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled on Nov. 22, 2011, that Apple Inc. products don’t infringe on patents held by HTC Corp.’s recently acquired subsidiary S3 Graphics, a setback for the Android handset maker. The news sent shares of the Taiwan-based smartphone maker down by more than five percent, as the decision called into question the rationale behind HTC’s $300 million acquisition.

On Sept. 16, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), the first significant overhaul of the U.S. patent system in nearly 60 years. Marking a new era of patent litigation, the statute presents a host of opportunities for companies, especially those defending against patent infringement actions.   The Act switches the U.S. patent system from a “first to invent” to a “first to file” system, eliminates interference proceedings, and develops post-grant opposition.  Opponents of the Act contend that the revisions create greater options for accused infringers while weakening the rights of patentees, and that patent reform should remain in the hands of the court system.

In January 2011, Microsoft signed with third-party patent acquirer RPX as “insurance” in fending off patent lawsuits.  Microsoft has been sued at least 49 times in the past six years for patent infringement by small shops that buy up patents from inventors and bankrupt companies, according to researcher PatentFreedom. Lawsuits from “patent trolls,” says the software giant, are a costly blight on the technology industry. “Patent litigation costs the industry billions of dollars per year,” says Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice-president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft.

Intellectual Property (IP)

IP refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.  Just like other kinds of property, IP needs to be protected from unauthorized use.  IP is divided into two categories:

Industrial property includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs and geographic indications of source.

Copyright includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs.  Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.

For the business client, our commercial litigation experience is an invaluable asset.  Let our trial lawyers at Hornberger & Brewer fight your business and commercial litigation battles.

Intellectual Property Litigation – Part II: Understanding Patent Law

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