Intellectual property is an important asset of any small business. In fact, for many small businesses, intellectual property is the most important asset they have, and infringement may put a company out of business.
Federal and state laws safeguard the intellectual property of a business by protecting trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, and patents. But sometimes you need help enforcing those laws. At the law office of Mark A. Johnson, PC, we have a wide range of experience in protecting the intellectual property rights of both small and larger businesses.
Once a company's original work is fixed in a tangible form, that work is entitled to copyright protection that prohibits unauthorized copying. Among the types of works that may be copyrighted are:
A copyright owner has the legal right to control the reproduction, distribution, adaptation, public performance or display of the work, as well as translations into other languages or other media.
Trademarks uniquely identify your products in the marketplace and service marks do the same for your services. They are your brand names, distinguishing your products and services from those of your competitors. Trademarks and service marks may be registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to obtain federal protection.
In contrast to copyright, patent and trademark law, which protect published intellectual property, trade secret law protects valuable company assets that are not published. For example, Coca-Cola's most closely guarded trade secret is the formula for Coca-Cola®, which is kept in a vault in Atlanta. Other examples of trade secrets are a company's customer lists, business plans, and unique processes.
Georgia law generally protects trade secrets, so long as a business takes its own reasonable precautions to protect its trade secrets. Those convicted of stealing trade secrets may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.
If your company has intellectual property that you want to profit from, one way to do that is to license the right to use your intellectual property in exchange for licensing fees. Attorney Mark Johnson can develop the necessary licensing agreements for your business.
To ensure that employees who leave your company do not take your intellectual property to subsequently compete with you unfairly, you can require your employees to sign a non-compete agreement prior to leaving your employment. As courts do not enforce non-compete agreements that are contrary to the public good or are overly burdensome, it is important for businesses to have their non-compete agreements drafted by competent and experienced intellectual property law attorneys.
For an initial consultation to discuss your intellectual property issues with attorney Mark Johnson, please call or contact us online.