California Attorneys Advise on California Intellectual Property Law
Thorough Oakland firm works to protect trade secrets and resolve disputes
At Bay Oak Law, we help companies protect the trade secrets and property rights that provide value to their business. Throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, we work to help startups, individual creators and established businesses secure legal rights to their original intellectual property. Located in Oakland since 1998, our office handles California matters related to confidential commercial information, customer lists, patents, copyrights and trademarks. Regardless of your specific needs or the complexity of your IP issue, our firm provides responsive and dependable legal support.
What Is intellectual property?
Intellectual property is the legal term for assets created when a someone converts an idea into something tangible that can be used, licensed or sold. The laws of California and the United States protect four main categories of intellectual property, which are:
- Trade secrets — A trade secret provides a business with an advantage in the competitive marketplace. Recipes, formulas and algorithms can all be classified as trade secrets. Unlike other forms of intellectual property, there is no government process for registering trade secrets. To keep valuable information secure, a business may use nondisclosure agreements and extra security measures.
- Copyrights — Creators may establish copyrights for their written, visual and audio works to guard against infringement. A copyright remains enforceable for decades past the death of the creator.
- Patents — A patent can be awarded for a new design, invention or plant variety as well as for an improvement on, or new use for, an existing invention. Patents prevent anyone but the holder from making the registered product for a set period of time.
- Trademarks — These are unique emblems that identify the owner’s product or service and distinguish them from others in the stream of commerce. A registered trademark remains valid for five years, but owners may renew the mark indefinitely.
We are well-versed in the particulars of each type of intellectual property and in the best practices for acquiring and enforcing protections.
Common types of intellectual property in business
Different types of businesses rely on different forms of intellectual property. Your company’s intellectual property might include:
- Apparel designs
- Business names
- Business processes
- Client lists
- Computer programs and apps
- Fiction writings
- Logos and slogans
- News articles, essays and reviews
- Photographs and video images
- Paintings and sculptures
- Patents for inventions or non-obvious modifications to existing inventions
- Recipes and ingredients
- Secret formulas
- Supplier lists
For each type of IP, there are measures you can take to enhance your legal protections. When someone infringes on your rights as the creator or owner of IP, there are steps you can take to enforce your rights.
State and federal IP laws protect your trade secrets, likenesses and trademarks
Trade secrets are a uniquely valuable form of IP, because your rights never expire. The formula for Coca-Cola and the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken are classic examples of trade secrets that have given those companies a competitive advantage in their respective markets for decades. Provided those companies continue to protect those secrets, they can be valuable assets for generations to come.
However, trade secrets only retain their value if they remain secret. For this reason, trade secret theft is a serious problem, and California, along with the federal government, has taken steps to protect trade secrets. The California Uniform Trade Secrets Act allows the holder of a trade secret to seek damages for misappropriation even when the secret has not yet been successfully commercialized. Plaintiffs can also seek redress under the Federal Trade Secrets Law.
Given the prominence of our entertainment industry, California has an interest in protecting its residents from unlicensed appropriation of their likenesses. The California Right of Publicity protects individuals against the unauthorized commercial use of their name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness.
The California Trademark Act provides protections for unique trade and service marks in addition to those found in the Federal Trademark Law known as the Lanham Act.
Strategic attorneys fight IP infringement and trade secret violations
Companies must be diligent in the defense of their IP. If someone imitates your designs or produces an eerily similar product for their own gain, our attorneys can advise on possible legal remedies, which could include an injunction and or damages. We file lawsuits resulting from the infringement or improper use of intellectual property, and we defend individuals and businesses accused of committing such actions. Our legal team will perform in-depth research and conduct a thorough investigation to build your case. Depending on the details of the claim, we can work toward a settlement or petition the court for an order that provides appropriate relief.
Contact a Bay Area intellectual property lawyers to schedule a free consultation
At Bay Oak Law in Oakland, our California attorneys help intellectual property owners establish their rights and act against parties misappropriating their assets. To schedule your free initial consultation, call us at 510-208-5500 or contact us online.