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is an Associate with Womble Bond Dickinson. Chris guides clients in developing strategies to protect their intellectual property. His practice includes patent application preparation and prosecution. He also counsels clients on non-infringement and invalidity matters, as well as in Intellectual Property licensing agreements. He has a particular focus on serving the tech industry.
For more information or to contact Chris, please visit his Firm Profile Page.
Trade secret holders must take reasonable precautions to maintain the secrecy of their secrets, such as keeping such information on a “need-to-know” basis. Companies should have clear IP, confidentiality, and employment agreements describing which types of information are considered trade secrets. These agreements should also describe an employee’s responsibility for maintaining the secrecy of such information. In spite of reasonable precautions by a trade secret holder, bad actors may maliciously misappropriate trade secrets.
Copyrights protect original works of authorship. This gives a copyright holder exclusive rights to modify, distribute, perform, display, and copy the work. However, as with other forms of intellectual property, there are important things copyright holders need to know in order to best protect and utilize their copyrights. You do not need to register a work to be protected by copyright. However, registration is encouraged as it provides enhanced protection for copyright holders. For example, a registered copyright is considered prima facie evidence in litigation, meaning the court will accept, on face value, that the copyright is valid unless it can be proven otherwise.
Trademarks protect distinctive marks, such as brand names, logos, and designs. This protection allows a trademark holder to exclude others from using the mark without permission of the owner. The following includes important, basic information about trademarks, as well as how start-ups can protect their trademarked intellectual property.
Intellectual property probably isn’t high on the to-do list for most new nonprofits and business start-ups. There’s plenty enough to do with setting up an organization, paying bills, and serving customers and clients. However, intellectual property is important and shouldn’t be overlooked. Companies and organizations that don’t protect their IP can risk losing hard-earned work and concepts. Also, companies can risk liability if they violate the IP rights of others, even unknowingly or by accident. Patents provide inventors the right to exclude others from using the technologies covered by the patent for a limited time. In exchange for exclusivity, inventors must disclose how to make and use the invention. An inventor can apply for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), as well as other intellectual property offices around the world.