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San Diego Trademark & Copyright Intellectual Property Lawyers

Protecting one's intellectual property rights has never been more important, or more challenging. In today's competitive and globalized economy, intellectual property disputes are increasingly common and hard-fought. San Diego trial lawyers at Fitzgerald Knaier LLP understand both the vitality of intellectual property and the role that its protection has in ensuring that market competition is fair. San Diego intellectual property attorney Ken Fitzgerald is a recognized leader in intellectual property litigation, with over twenty years of experience in intellectual property cases involving copyrights, trademarks, trade dress, trade secrets, and patents.

At Fitzgerald Knaier LLP, we represent both plaintiffs and defendants, advocating for business entities as well as individuals. Our lawyers have represented some of the most sophisticated clients in the business world. We have also championed the causes of vulnerable individuals who have been wronged by powerful corporate interests. Our overriding commitment is to represent all of our clients vigorously and thoughtfully, with civility, integrity, and professionalism. If you or someone you know needs counsel for a matter involving intellectual property, please contact us.

Trademarks

A trademark is a source-identified mark, used to communicate to the consumer the source, sponsorship, or origin of goods. A trademark is "any sign that individualizes the goods of a given enterprise and distinguishes them from the goods of its competitors." Trademarks typically constitute a name, word, phrase, design, logo, and/or commercial symbol used to identify products, services, or their producers in the marketplace. A trademark can be protected either on the basis of use or by registration, but in order to function, a trademark must be distinctive.

A plaintiff in a trademark infringement case must prove the likelihood of confusion as to the source of goods or services sold by the infringer. A variety of factors are considered in making this determination, including the strength of the plaintiff's mark, the similarity of the competing marks, the similarity of the goods or services offered, the similarity of the trade channels, the nature of similar marks in use on similar goods, and the extent of any actual customer confusion between the competing products or services.

Copyrights

International and domestic copyright laws protect the authors and creators of original works of authorship, assisting them in maintaining control and protecting the profits derived from their original work. Original works of authorship eligible for copyright protection include photographs, software, computer graphics and video games, jewelry and textile designs, musical compositions, paintings, movies, drawings, books, essays, works of art, lyrics, paintings, architectural works, and sculpture. A copyright grants exclusive legal ownership, including the right to copy and/or distribute.

Copyright law generally protects two types of rights. Economic rights protect the owner's right to derive financial reward from the use of the protected work by others. Moral rights allow the author the right to object to any distortion or modification of the protected work. Most copyright laws state that the author or rights owner has the right to authorize or prevent certain acts in relation to a work. For example, the rights owner of a work can prohibit or authorize:

  • The distribution of its copies;
  • Its reproduction in various forms;
  • Its public performance;
  • Its public broadcast;
  • Its translation; and
  • Its adaptation.

An original work of authorship is copyrighted at the time it is fixed to a tangible medium. These rights can be licensed, transferred, and/or assigned for a specific period of time. Registration is not required to own a copyright, but it may be advisable to register eligible work with the United States Copyright Office in order to better protect it. To prove copyright infringement, the owner of the original work must establish ownership and then prove that the work was copied. One key question in such disputes is the degree of similarity between the works.

Trade Secret Protection and Trade Dress

A trade secret constitutes valuable information, not available to the general public, that provides a competitive advantage to its owner. Trade secrets can be protected from trade secret misappropriation by a variety of contractual means, including employment agreements and policies, consultant agreements, independent contractor agreements, non-disclosure agreements, and manufacturing agreements. Resolution of disputes involving trade secrets and trade dress often depends heavily on the content of the specific contract at issue.

Legal Help with Intellectual Property Matters

If you or someone you know needs counsel for a matter involving intellectual property, contact the experienced trial lawyers at Fitzgerald Knaier LLP today. Statutes of limitations could apply to intellectual property claims, so act now to ensure that your legal rights are not lost. We offer a free, no obligation consultation to assess your case. Contact us today by telephone or using the form on this website.