How long does it take to get a patent?

We outline how long it takes to get a patent and what you should expect throughout the patent application process.

When inventors attend a consultation with an attorney, it’s inevitable that they will ask, “How long does it take to get a patent?”

That’s a question that can be frustrating for even a seasoned patent attorney to answer. This is because there are so many variables at play.

It’s also important to remember that there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever receive a patent for your invention. It is a long, complex and potentially costly process. Ultimately, there may be no meaningful protection for your invention.

That’s why it’s critical for inventors and entrepreneurs to work with an intellectual property attorney right from the start. These professionals can advise you with regard to the potential patentability of your invention and perform a search to find out if something similar to your creation has already been patented. This can save you unimaginable amounts of time and money.

However, let’s say that your invention appears to be patentable, novel and unique. A patent search reveals that there’s nothing like it at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. How much time will it take to obtain a patent on that invention?

This depends on factors like the type of patent you are pursuing, whether or not you elect expedited processing, the art unit in which your application is reviewed and whether or not you can petition to make your application special. A closer look at these factors may help you to see how long it will take for you to get a patent.

Types of Patents

In the U.S., the three main categories of patents are utility, design and plant.

Utility Patents

Utility applications, which cover a machine, process or article of manufacture, are by far the most commonly sought.

Utility patent applications generally require the most time to process. The broader and more novel the subject matter of the application is, the longer it is likely to take to examine. If the improvement is close to known subject matter, then it is considered more limited in scope and likely will require less processing time.

Design Patents

Designs, which cover surface ornamentation or the appearance of an article, are the second most common type of patent application.

Design patent applications tend to be examined far more quickly because they are shorter and less complicated.

It is not unusual for a design patent to be issued within one to two years after filing. However, it may take anywhere from one to five years for a utility patent to be issued.

Plant Patents

The third category is plants, and these applications cover a specific genetic combination of an engineered plant species. A plant patent is granted by the United States government to an inventor who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.

Plant patents normally take close to two years for the patent office to grant or reject a plant patent application.

The Filling Process

A well-written patent application can be produced within a few weeks to a couple of months. The better written the application is, the more likely it is to be examined quickly and favorably. A competent patent attorney knows precisely what to disclose and how to disclose it to obtain the broadest and most meaningful protection possible.

Because the quality of the application is so critical, it is never a good idea for an inventor to write the patent application themselves. It is far better to trust this stage to a professional to save time and money.

Choosing Expedited Processing

Knowing that it can take as long as five years to move from application to issued patent, some inventors are opting for Track One Prioritized Examination procedures at the USPTO. Participation can move you toward final disposition of your application within just 12 months. It’s available for utility and plant applications, and you must pay an extra fee to request prioritized processing.

Art Units

Examiners at the USPTO are broken up into groups called “Art Units.” Art Units are categorized according to common types of technologies. Patent applications are assigned to examiners based on the technology involved in the invention. Some art units are busier than others. The more popular and complex the technology, the longer the processing times are likely to be.

A Petition to Make Special

If the inventor or applicant is over the age of 65 or is suffering from a life-threatening illness, then they may petition to make their application special. This provides them with expedited processing. No fee is required with these petitions, but documentation concerning the age or health of the applicant is mandatory.

Abandonment & Allowance

Abandoned means that the trademark application is no longer pending and cannot mature into registration. This will happen because you’ve given up on the pursuit or you lost track of the process.

In the application process the examining attorney will issue an office action letter to the applicant stating the status of the of the application. The applicant then has up to 6 months to respond if they want to continue through the process or the patent will be considered abandoned.

Closing

If you want to obtain patent protection for your invention, then it’s wise to work with a qualified intellectual property attorney. These professionals take much of the guesswork out of pursuing a patent, which saves you time and money.

Most Counterfeit Categories

Products Most Likely to be Counterfeited

  • Have you ever been tempted by a Rolex with a price that seemed too good to be true?
  • What about a Coach handbag with an unbelievable price tag?

With the proliferation of websites that empower third-party sellers, it has become increasingly common to see counterfeit goods flooding the marketplace.

Unfortunately, counterfeit products are more harmful than most people realize. When people choose to purchase a knock-off as opposed to the real thing, then American businesses are hurt through the loss of considerable revenue. Moreover, consumers run the risk of being injured by inferior and faulty electronic parts and other unsafe goods.

If you are an inventor or manufacturer, then you may already be aware of the dangers posed by counterfeit goods. If you are a consumer, then it pays for you to be informed with regard to the product categories in which you are most likely to be enticed by seemingly attractive dupes.

Handbags and Wallets

Upscale handbag and wallet brands such as Hermes and Coach have been plagued by counterfeits for years. Today, these knock-offs are mostly sold online. However, this business used to be conducted by New York City’s Canal Street manufacturers.

For the most part, it’s easy to spot knock-offs when it comes to brands like Fendi, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, but Hermes is different. While most counterfeits are poorly constructed and easy to spot, there was a conspiracy among Hermes employees to sell carefully made handbags that were almost indiscernible from the genuine article. Fortunately, this lucrative scheme has been terminated by authorities.

Apple Accessories

Everything from power adaptors to chargers is liable to be counterfeit. Back in 2016, Apple began warning consumers about the hazards represented by power adaptors that appeared to be genuine but were not. These products were spread across eBay and Amazon, and Apple ultimately sued a company known as Mobile Star after determining that they were selling bogus power adaptors. Unfortunately, Mobile Star was not the only bad actor.

Fake chargers also are widely available on the marketplace. The 2018 seizure of a shipment of knock-off Apple chargers in New York revealed that the bogus electronic equipment had a 99-percent failure rate. Additionally, improper insulation and faulty construction meant that these devices were a serious fire risk and put people in danger of electrocution.

Anything Disney

For years now, Disney has been given massive headaches by Chinese manufacturers. The good news for Disney is that they are a powerful and wealthy enterprise. This means that they are better endowed than most companies to fight the fakes being produced in China.

The Chinese government is trying to put the brakes on manufacturers of fakes too. They launched a special initiative in 2016 to help stem the tide of fake Disney merchandise. The effort paid off, but there are so many other traffickers in fake Disney goods that it ultimately did not solve the problem.

Jewelry

From Rolex to Cartier, knock-offs are a huge problem in the jewelry business. In fact, Rolex counterfeiters have gotten so good that TechCrunch began referring to them as superfakes. These knock-offs were so good that it was even difficult for experts to tell the difference between them and the real thing.

Similar problems have occurred with the famous Cartier Love bracelets. Cartier is itself one of the most frequently counterfeited brands, and there is a proliferation of websites on which Cartier dupes are sold.

In particular, the Love bracelet is a favorite among knock-off artists. While the real thing is quite heavy and expertly crafted, fakes are lightweight and the shoddy craftsmanship shows.

Shoes

When it comes to shoes, athletic brands like Nike Air Jordans and super fashionable items like Yeezy’s are the most likely to be counterfeited.

Experts believe that Nike is probably the most faked brand in the world, with the Air Jordan line representing the most lucrative possibilities.

While Amazon is the most likely place to find counterfeit shoes, Instagram’s Checkout feature gave rise to a flood of dupes of Yeezy’s by Kanye West. The popular sneakers are among the favorite counterfeit items on the platform.

What Is Amazon Doing?

Amazon is one of the largest online purveyors of counterfeit goods thanks to its inclusion of third-party sellers. This is forcing the retail giant to enact measures to combat the counterfeiters.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced the establishment of a Counterfeit Crime Unit that was tasked with fighting the millions of counterfeit listings that the website publishes each year.

The Crime Unit is being asked to identify wrongdoers and bring legal action against them. This is done with the hope of preventing further fakes from making it to the site in the future.

In order for the effort to succeed, it’s essential that brands and consumers offer their full cooperation.

Concerned About Counterfeits?

Are you an inventor or manufacturer who is worried about knock-offs? If so, then schedule a consultation with Williams IP Law to explore your options for fighting back.

What is the right of publicity?

Have you ever seen Tony Romo in a Gatorade ad? How about George Clooney in a commercial for Nespresso?

If so, then you can bet that these uses of a celebrity’s face and personality were negotiated, and that the celebrity received a large payday. Many companies in a swath of industries are willing to pay big bucks to get the right celebrity to endorse their product.

However, have you ever wondered what happens when someone uses a photo of a celebrity to sell a product without that individual’s permission? If this happens, then the wronged celebrity may be able to bring legal action against the company. This is when a little-known legal principal called the right of publicity comes into play.

What is the right of publicity? Does it apply only to famous folks or could you have a claim if someone uses your likeness without your permission?

The answers can be complicated. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is the Right of Publicity?

The right of publicity refers to the individual’s right to have control over the commercial exploitation of their persona or name. Most frequently, this principal is associated with famous people because it’s most often their personas that are used to promote products.

The right of publicity only covers commercial exploitation. If a newspaper or magazine wants to print an article and photograph about a celebrity, this doesn’t fall under the right of publicity. This is why gossip magazines and websites can exist. Of course, people who become the subjects of untruthful or misleading articles in these media have the right to sue for defamation.

Essentially, if a person’s likeness is used for public interest, information or news, this is a permissible use and is not a violation of the right of publicity.

While the right of publicity is most often associated with celebrities, it can apply to a private citizen. As an example, imagine that your picture was snapped without your knowledge while you were drinking a bottle of a famous brand of soda. If the soda company used your photo to promote their product without your permission, they could be liable for misappropriation of the right of publicity.

Avoiding this kind of problem is why actors and models who are used in advertisements are asked to sign releases or consents that allow the use of their image or other likeness.

Related to the Right of Privacy

The right of publicity is related to the right of privacy. In general, the principles of invasion of privacy are designed to prohibit the use of a person’s likeness or name to gain some sort of advantage.

However, an independent claim may be made when an individual’s likeness or name is appropriated for commercial purposes. Although the right of publicity is most frequently associated with famous people, it also is true that any individual possesses the right to prevent the unauthorized use of their image or name to sell a product.

It is worth noting that the right of publicity effectively grants a property right to each individual’s identity, whereas the right of privacy is designed to protect people from the emotional anguish that may arise from the open publication of private matters that may be intimate, embarrassing or portray the individual in falsely offensive manner.

Who Does the Right of Publicity Affect?

While most of these cases are related to “celebrities,” the precise definition of celebrity is purposefully vague. For instance, a person may be well-known in Texas, but does it follow that they are famous across the US? What about a person who was famous for being on a television show in the 1980s? Are they a celebrity after not working in the entertainment field for 30 years?

Currently, there is no federal law with regard to the right of publicity. This means that each state is responsible for related legislation. Some states, like Texas, have right of publicity laws on the books, but other jurisdictions rely on common law and statutory law to protect the individual’s right of publicity.

Similarly, some states only protect the right of publicity for famous individuals while all individuals are protected in other states.

What About the First Amendment?

First Amendment protection is granted in tiers, with the most protection being granted to news. Less protection is offered to uses of a person’s identity for fiction, and even less protection is given to the advertising use of a person’s likeness or name.

Accordingly, people can be mentioned in the news in a factual manner without running afoul of the First Amendment or the right of publicity. It’s even possible to use a real person within a work of fiction, like a novel, as long as it’s made clear that the overall work is fiction.

The Right of Publicity and Distinctive Voices

It’s not just a person’s image or name that may be protected under the right of publicity. Two cases involving sound-alike performers who imitated Bette Midler and Tom Waits both found that the singers had the right to control the use of their distinctive voices – even if it wasn’t them providing the voice work.

Contact Williams IP Law

If you’re hoping to get a celebrity to endorse your product or are curious about what’s involved when you feel that your image has been used for a commercial purpose without your permission, then contact Williams IP Law for efficient, common-sense solutions.

What Is Patent Litigation?

When an individual inventor or a company is granted a patent, it means that they have the legal right to prevent others from benefitting from their hard work. Any competitor that is making or selling an infringing product may be sued by the patent holder.

Litigation is always a risky, expensive and time-consuming process. Nonetheless, it also is a critical component of protecting intellectual property rights. When two parties enter into a serious dispute, sometimes a lawsuit is the only way to settle their differences.

If you are a patent owner and you believe that your rights are being infringed by a competitor, then contact Williams IP Law to learn more about your legal rights and options.

What Is Patent Litigation?

This type of action is a lawsuit that is filed in civil, rather than criminal, court. Usually, these types of lawsuits are filed when someone who holds a patent believes that another person is using their invention without permission.

Keep in mind that litigation is not the first step in the process when infringement is suspected. It is common for a lawsuit to be filed only as a last resort after the alleged infringer absolutely refuses to acknowledge or address the concerns of the patent holder.

Most patent litigation matters only come to a lawsuit after months of back and forth between attorneys. Once a lawsuit is filed, it may be months, and most likely years, before the matter is resolved.

How Does Patent Litigation Work?

Neither party is likely to enter the patent litigation process lightly. Typically, a lawsuit only becomes necessary when both parties have dug in their proverbial heels, with both sides insisting that they are the rightful owner of the technology at issue.

Like other civil lawsuits, these matters begin with the filing of a Complaint by the plaintiff, who usually is the patent owner. Then, the defendant is required to file an Answer.

What follows is usually many months of research, depositions and discovery. It may be necessary to sift through thousands of documents, depose critical witnesses and locate experts who can help to shore up either side of the case.

Frequently, the claims in the lawsuit come down to whether or not the patent is valid. The patent owner naturally claims that their patent is valid while the attorney for the defendant must argue why the patent is invalid. This can be a complex determination that rests on detailed knowledge of technical and patent-related matters.

This is a complicated and time-consuming process. However, it’s also a critical component of any patent lawsuit. In fact, many of these lawsuits are settled at the discovery stage because some evidence or testimony comes to light that illustrates the validity of the claim of one party or the other. There may even be a mountain of evidence proving the claims of one party.

Even if such evidence never comes to light, this stage of the lawsuit can be a war of attrition. One party or the other may conclude that continuing the fight just isn’t worth their time and money. Occasionally, both parties reach this decision and come up with a settlement agreement that at least partially satisfies everyone.

Will Your Case End up in Court?

Like other civil litigation matters, most patent lawsuits never make it to their court date. If your lawsuit does go the distance, this means significantly increased expenses for both parties. However, if they are unable to reach any kind of accord before the trial begins, they are left with no other choice.

Do You Need Patent Litigation?

Whether you are an individual inventor or work for a company that owns an important patent, then it is crucial for you to protect your rights. Unfortunately, this sometimes means being faced with the decision to file a patent lawsuit.

Given that such litigation is costly, complicated and time-consuming, the representation that you choose matters. It’s essential that you seek legal counsel with the right kind of knowledge and experience to see you through the process from beginning to end.

At Williams IP Law, our legal professionals work with inventors every day. Not only do we help people and companies to obtain the intellectual property protection that they need but also we represent them when it’s time to enforce their rights.

With considerable patent litigation experience, Williams IP Law is the firm that you need when you’re concerned that your intellectual property rights have been violated.

What Does a Patent Attorney Do?

When most people think of attorneys, they picture them in courtroom appearances making dramatic speeches to a panel of jurors. The reality is that many attorneys rarely work in courtrooms, and there are even some lawyers who never appear in court at all.

The patent attorneys who prosecute patent applications are among these latter attorneys who essentially never have to make a court date. Instead, they practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Some patent attorneys also practice in patent litigation, which means that they may bring lawsuits that are heard by a judge and possibly a jury.

Regardless of whether they focus on patent prosecution or litigation, patent attorneys practice in a small, specialized area of law. In fact, not everyone who is graduated from law school and passes a bar exam is qualified to be a patent attorney.

Instead, patent attorneys are required to have a scientific or technical background. This usually means that they have obtained an undergraduate degree in a scientific, engineering or other technical subject area. After that four-year education, they proceed to three years of law school, at the conclusion of which, they must pass the bar exam for the state in which they hope to practice. Then, they must pass a test that is administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that frequently is referred to as the “patent bar exam.”

Typically, before taking the patent bar exam, a new attorney obtains employment with an intellectual property law firm. The experienced practitioners at the firm guide and counsel the new attorney so that he or she gets familiar with the patent prosecution process. This also provides essential preparation for passing the patent bar exam.

Once the attorney has the credentials to practice before the USPTO, they are a full-fledged patent lawyer and able to help clients obtain the intellectual property protection that they need.

What Does a Patent Attorney Do?

When an individual or company invents a new product or process, then they may seek help from an intellectual property attorney who can help them to obtain a patent.

The process begins with a meeting between the client and the patent attorney. The client provides details about their invention, and the lawyer provides insight into the patenting process, what’s involved, how much it may cost and how long it is likely to take.

The client decides whether or not they want to proceed with either a search or an application. Attorneys perform a patent search to determine whether or not there are existing patents or patent applications on which the proposed invention disclosure might infringe. At the conclusion of the search, the attorney can provide a more educated estimate with regard to the potential patentability of the invention.

If the client indicates that they want to proceed with a patent application, then the intellectual property attorney makes an in-depth study of the technological area and gathers additional details regarding the invention from the inventors.

An intensive period of writing ensues as the patent attorney drafts the specification, claims and abstract that make up the application. The specification intricately describes the invention and all of its possible permutations while the claims point out the specific elements that the applicant wants to protect. The abstract is a summary of the specification.

The Filing of the Patent Application

The patent attorney’s firm handles submission of the completed patent application to the USPTO. Eventually, the application will be reviewed by another lawyer who works at the USPTO as an Examining Attorney. It’s the examiner’s job to decide on the patentability of the application. If the examiner believes that the invention isn’t patentable, then they will issue an Office action.

This is where the patent attorney steps in again, drafting amendments and a response to the Office action, arguing why the invention actually is distinct and patentable. Relying on their training, patent lawyers make legal arguments against the rejections to convince the examiner to issue a patent.

Patent Attorneys Fight Infringement

Intellectual property lawyers who litigate are adept at enforcing patent rights with all of the means at their disposal. This may include filing lawsuits when someone else infringes a patent holder’s rights. Not all of these cases actually make it to the courtroom. In fact, many of them are settled well before they are brought before a judge or jury. Still, the patent litigation attorney provides helpful, knowledgeable guidance with incredibly complicated court cases, ensuring that patent holders are able to protect their interests.

Do You Need a Patent Attorney?

Obtaining patent protection requires knowledge of an array of technical and legal factors. This is why it is generally recommended that inventors work with a patent attorney when it is time to protect their invention.

The experienced practitioners at the Williams IP Law are skilled when it comes to helping individuals and companies protect their intellectual property. If you believe that you need patent protection, then contact Jeff Williams to schedule an initial consultation.

15 Things invented in Texas

Did you know that many of the world’s most famous and useful inventions were created right here in Texas? It’s true!

Read on to learn more about these home-grown innovations.

15. Calculators that Fit in Your Hand

In the 1960s, an electronic desktop calculator was among the most sophisticated machines for doing arithmetic. Texas Instrument revolutionized the landscape with the invention of the first handheld calculator in 1967. Called the Cal Tech, the device was put on the market in 1970.

14. Mary Kay Inc.

Founded in 1963 by Mary Kay Ash, this Addison, Texas company was declared in 2018 to be the world’s sixth-largest network marketing company. Its distributors, who are called beauty consultants, may be rewarded with a distinctive pink Cadillac if they are among the company’s top sellers.

13. The Frozen Margarita

Mariano Martinez was onto something in 1971 when he modified a soft-serve ice cream machine to mix margarita ingredients. Martinez got the idea after visiting a 7-Eleven with a slushy machine. He decided to invent a margarita that could be pre-mixed, frozen and then served whenever it was wanted. Although vendors of frozen drinks were skeptical, Martinez proved them wrong.

12. Shiner Beer

Brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, it’s difficult to name a more iconic Texas brand name. The brewery was founded in 1909 by Kosmos Spoetzl, a Bavarian immigrant. Spoetzl spread the word about Shiner Beer by leaving free bottles of beer on fence posts to be enjoyed by hardworking farmers. Shiner was eventually distributed to Austin and beyond.

11. The Ruby Red Grapefruit

Like many great inventions, the creation of the first ruby red grapefruit was an accident. Grapefruit trees had been cultivated in southern Texas as early as the late 19th century. Growers were constantly experimenting with new varieties, which led to innovations like the pink grapefruit. One day in 1929, a farmer noticed mutated red grapefruit that was growing on a pink grapefruit tree. The flesh of the fruit not only was red but also far sweeter than existing grapefruit varieties.

10. Selective Laser Sintering, or 3-D Printing

Most people probably think that 3-D printing is an ultra-modern invention. Actually, it has its roots in an invention known at selective laser sintering, which was developed by a University of Texas graduate named Carl Deckard. Deckard was still a student when he began working on his invention.

9. Breast Implants

In the early 1960s, two surgeons in Houston noted that a plastic blood bag felt remarkably like the female breast. From this moment, a revolution in the plastic surgery realm was begun.

8. Nachos at the Stadium

The humble yet tasty stadium nacho has its roots in a 1976 Texas Rangers baseball game. Inventor Frank Liberto was doing some experimentation when he discovered that cheese could be dispensed from a pump after being diluted with jalapeno juice and water. The rest is history.

7. Dell Computers

Most people don’t know that Michael Dell, a student at the University of Texas, started his company when he began selling personal computers from his dorm room. Dell never looked back, and now the company boasts more than 100,000 employees.

6. The Integrated Circuit

Texas Instruments inventor Jack Kilby was hard at work in 1958 when he developed the world’s first integrated circuit. The invention was the precursor to the microchip, which was the innovation that made it possible to shrink computers from room-sized to pocket-sized.

5. Dr. Pepper

One of America’s most popular soda brands had its genesis in 1885 when it was served in a Waco, Texas drugstore. Developed by pharmacist Charles Alderton, the product was taken nationwide in 1904.

4. Topsy Tail

Little girls growing up in the 1990s were wild to wear the inverted ponytail style that was made famous in the animated classic Beauty and the Beast. The Topsy Tail made it possible to do so with ease.

3. Fritos

These curly corn chips were invented by Charles Doolin in 1932. Originating in San Antonio, the little chips were a huge hit in Texas before being brought onto the world stage.

2. Liquid Paper

Bette Graham was working as a typist in Texas during the 1950s when she came up with one of the best inventions ever. Her Liquid Paper could erase mistakes with ease, and it quickly became a lucrative product.

1. Whole Foods Market

Now adored across the country, Whole Foods Market was created in Texas back in 1980. Initially called SaferWay, the small vegetarian food store eventually grew to have hundreds of locations.

Contact Williams IP Law

Are you developing the next great idea to come out of Texas? If so, then you need the guidance of an experienced intellectual property attorney. Contact Williams IP law to learn more about how to protect your creation.

Do I need to copyright my website?

Everyone Has a Website

Whether you build a website for personal or business reasons, chances are good that you pour your heart and soul into it. After all, that website is a reflection of you, and it also may be the first contact that your customers have with your business.

After putting so much time and effort into building your website, it makes sense to protect it. This doesn’t occur to many website owners, with the result that they are unable to recover damages when someone else steals their content.

Copyright Content

All of the content that you add to your website is either originally created by you or was created by someone else, like a contractor or employee, who was working for you. This means that you now own that content, whether it’s pages that describe who you are and what you do, blog posts or something else entirely.

Whatever that content is, you own it, and this means that you have the right to prevent others from using it without your permission. When you do see that someone has used your website content without asking you first, a registered copyright gives you the ability to pursue legal remedies.

Automatic Copyright Laws

You may have heard that copyright protection in the U.S. is automatic. This is true. In fact, anything that you fix in tangible form, like a drawing or a recording, enjoys automatic copyright protection in America.

However, this automatic copyright doesn’t necessarily go far enough when it comes to protecting your website’s content. Plagiarism on the Internet is rampant. Plenty of bad actors are out there who will simply copy your content or photographs and paste them onto their own website.

What can you do if this happens?

In this situation, it is best to have a federally registered copyright for your website and all of its content, which includes text, photos and other images. A formal registration demonstrates the date of creation of the content, enabling you to prove beyond a doubt that you are the originator and/or owner of the content.

What Federal Copyright Registration Provides

When you register your copyright, you are formally demonstrating your authorship of the content. If you hired someone to create some or all of your website content for you, then it makes sense to enter into formal agreements with these individuals in which they legally assign their rights in the created material to you. This usually helps to prevent later disputes should they ever arise.

Additionally, when you have registered your copyright, you have the right to pursue a civil lawsuit against an infringer. When a website is under a federal copyright, then the website’s owner may have the ability to claim statutory damages in addition to attorney’s fees if a lawsuit becomes necessary.

Copyright Notice

Whether you pursue a federal copyright registration or not, it is always sensible to include a copyright notice on each page of your website. Usually, such notices appear at the bottom of the page, and they may be as simple as “Copyright 2020.” Other possible copyright notices include ” © 2020″ or “All rights reserved.”

Still other appropriate copyright notices for websites include the name of the company or the individual who owns the website. As an example, the notice may read: “Copyright 2020, the ABC Company.”

While adding copyright notices to your website is not a requirement even if you federally register your copyrights, it is wise to do so to inform any visitors with bad intentions that you are aware of your rights and will defend them.

Ask an Intellectual Property Attorney for Assistance

Are you creating your first website or are you already the owner of several websites and just recently became aware that someone has stolen some of your content? In either situation, it’s wise to contact the Williams IP Law Office in Texas.

Jeffrey Williams helps clients with determining whether or not to federally register a copyright for various content on their websites. Moreover, Jeff can provide assistance with drawing up the various formal agreements that may be needed to ensure that the rights to website content are properly assigned from the author to the website’s owner.

Copyrighting website content in the U.S. is neither particularly difficult nor expensive, but it can be instrumental when it comes to protecting your work from infringement. If you’re serious about ensuring that others cannot take advantage of your hard work, then contact Williams IP Law.

What should you know about music patents?

Is it possible to get a music patent? Patents are one option when it comes to protecting the intellectual property that you create, and they may not be the best choice when you want to protect a song.

Singers and songwriters who are interested in protecting their creations are encouraged to contact an intellectual property attorney who can help them to formalize protection of their work.

Is Music Intellectual Property?

Whether it’s the melody, the lyrics or both, music is intellectual property. Does that mean that you can get a music patent?

Not necessarily. To understand why, it’s critical to know the differences between copyrights, patents and trademarks.

Copyrights vs. Patents vs. Trademarks

Musical compositions and performances and recordings of those compositions are protected by copyrights. Registration of these rights is a simple and inexpensive process, but it grants the holder strong protections. If someone else uses your music without paying you or giving you credit, then you have the right to demand that they stop. These rights extend to lawsuits.

Patents are meant to protect inventions. Items that are suitable for a copyright are original works of authorship, but if you want to get a music patent, then you would essentially have to invent something new.

For instance, if you invented a new musical instrument that was unlike anything that people had seen or heard before, it would be appropriate to seek a patent for it.

Trademarks are set aside for protecting things like brands, slogans and logos. If you were in a band, then you might consider obtaining trademark protection for the band’s name or a logo that you use.

Copyrighting Songs and Recordings

If you want to register your copyright to a song or a recording, the process is easy. Most of it is completed online at the website for the U.S. Copyright Office. If you want to make certain that your application proceeds as smoothly as possible, then it’s wise to work with an IP attorney who can prepare and submit the application.

To do so, your attorney will need some basic information about you as the author of the creation and the work itself. You’ll need to provide data like the name of the song or album, and your lawyer will fill out the online form.

Filing online is more efficient and less expensive, so your attorney likely will use this route unless circumstances dictate that a paper filing makes more sense. Either way, it probably will take several weeks, and perhaps even a few months, to receive a copyright registration.

Is a Copyright Worth It?

When you officially register your work, it creates a public record of your rights and enables you to sue if someone infringes those rights. Depending upon when the registration was obtained, you may be able to claim statutory damages and attorney’s fees in addition to actual damages and profits. Moreover, registration can be recorded with U.S. Customs so that officials can watch out for counterfeit products.

Facts You Should Know About Copyrights

  1. Your work doesn’t have to be published.

Whether you publish your work or not, it can still be federally registered, and therefore is entitled to the full protection of the law.

  1. Your creation is protected for your lifetime and beyond.

Most published works that were fixed in tangible form after January 1, 1978 may be eligible for a copyright that lasts for 70 years beyond the author’s lifetime.

If you work for a company writing songs, then the copyright’s length may be even longer. This means that your songs are considered “work for hire.” Such compositions are entitled to 95 years of protection from the date of publication or for 120 years from the year of creation of the song, whichever deadline expires first.

  1. Protection is automatic.

You don’t necessarily have to register a copyright. In the U.S., your work is copyrighted as soon as it is fixed in a tangible form like writing it down on paper or making a recording of yourself singing it. However, registration gives you far more robust protection under the law.

  1. Sound recordings are not the same as compositions.

Imagine that you are a singer/songwriter. You’ve just written a song and recorded yourself singing and playing the guitar. This means that you may seek two different copyright registrations: one for the composition itself and a second one for your recording. If that song is used on an album or released as a single, then additional copyright protection may be available.

  1. Registration gives you rights.

The copyright holder has the power to rearrange and perform the work any way they wish. They can adapt it, reproduce it or distribute it however they like. It’s even possible to license others to do these things. The upshot is that a copyright registration keeps you in the driver’s seat.

Work with Williams IP Law

At the Williams IP Law, we practice in all areas of intellectual property. This includes patents, trademarks and copyrights. If you are curious about how to protect your rights, call Williams IP Law.