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Why and How to License Copyrighted Material

Trademarks & Copyrights

Why and How to License Copyrighted Material

Running a business, you’ll probably come across copyrighted material more frequently than you expect. From photos you want to use for promotions to the music that runs across the back of your videos, if it was created by someone else, it’s always good to check if it’s copyrighted. While permission is not needed every time you use copyrighted material, if you plan to sell the material or use it to advertise your service, you want to make sure you’ve licensed the material. Similarly, for computer code, if you’re incorporating a portion of someone else’s work into your code, you’ll want... READ MORE

Trademarks: Word Marks vs. Design Marks

As businesses grow, they often look to protect branding associated with their company by registering the trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).  Marks can take the form of the company name, its logo, or even a tagline used to market products or services. In many industries, companies elect to register marks used with a specific line of products. Trademarks are available for word and design marks. Word marks are generally used in connection with a brand’s name or tagline. On the other hand, design marks are used when registering a brand’s logo. It’s important to understand... READ MORE

Why You Should Register a Trademark

Starting your own business can be exciting as it allows you to follow your passion while benefiting from your hard work. As part of the start-up process, you should take the time to create and refine a brand that encompasses and embodies your goals. This branding includes the name of your business- maybe a slogan, too- and visual markers you want people to associate with your business, which will be on display in everything from your marketing material down to the invoices you send clients. These details are the trade and service marks of your brand, which should distinguish you... READ MORE

Stairway to Liability: Led Zeppelin Prevails In Copyright Infringement Lawsuit (This Time)

In 2016, a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, the writers of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," went to trial in federal court (Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin, 15-cv-03462, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles). In June, a federal jury deliberated for just one day before rejecting the claims by the plaintiff. The plaintiff was a trust representing the estate of the late Randy Wolfe (aka Randy California) the guitarist for the band, Spirit. The alleged copyright infringement at issue in the case was for Wolfe's song "Taurus," based upon a claim that Page... READ MORE

Google Withstands Oracle’s Copyright Suit

In late spring of 2016, Google received a favorable verdict after being sued by Oracle for billions of dollars. A jury unanimously found that Google's use of a code was "fair use" under federal copyright law. Fair use allows people and organizations to reproduce, modify, distribute, display, and publicly perform works created by others in certain circumstances and for certain purposes. Two such purposes which may be beneficial to business owners are teaching and research. Google included parts of computer code, known as "application programming interfaces" (APIs) in Android that originated in another programming language. This language, Java, was owned... READ MORE

Can Coke Trademark The Name “Zero”?

Although Coca-Cola was granted its requested relief in May of 2016 by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, winning the right to trademark the term "zero" for its beverage products, other soft drink companies, including Dr Pepper Snapple Group, were allowed by the panel to trademark the term "zero" as well. Because the Coca-Cola "zero" brands had "acquired distinctiveness" and fit as "substantially exclusive," the trademark was allowed. According to the panel, Dr Pepper, who challenged the trademark almost ten years ago, wasn't able to prove that "zero" is a generic term that could not be legally trademarked. The panel... READ MORE

This is the third of a three-part series discussing legal steps an entrepreneur, business owner or professional should take when starting and growing a business. Having a great product is simply not enough in today’s world; getting your name out in the market is what counts. Look at Apple®: a brand that everyone recognizes for quality, ease, and the statement that its name carries. And look at one of its competitors, Real Networks. The point stands. But hey, you have this great idea. You’ll market this computer repair service and call it, “Apple Repairs: An apple a day keeps the... READ MORE