Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 27th 2015 Contents B5
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
As with Trademarks,
Copyright registration is
not required to establish
rights. However, registra-
tion is required to gain full
enforcement of your rights.
Combining legal and
business strategies makes
sense. Of course, all com-
panies should use smart
business practices tailored
to their business.
multiple legal strategies also
makes sense. For example,
a restaurant can use Trade-
mark to protect its name
and seek Trade dress to
protect its "décor, menu,
layout and style of service."
Restaurants with distinctive
trade dress include
McDonalds, Wendy's and
Another example of a
combination strategy is a
software company which
may seek Patent protection
for the novel functionality
and Copyright protection
for the expression of the
idea (the written code);
Trademark to protect the
name/brand, and Trade
dress to protect the "look
and feel of its graphical user
It's important to take
steps to protect your ideas
and work product. With a
including smart business
practices and legal strate-
gies, you can protect
Copying, especially on the internet, is
rampant. To protect against copycats stealing
your ideas or your work product, it's wise
to use a combination of smart business
practices and legal protections.
Smart Business Practices
By adopting smart business practices -
which are inexpensive -- you can prevent
• Mark "Confidential" on important doc-
• Use Nondisclosure Agreements,
• Put Copyright notices on your works,
• Put TM by your product or service name
• Require employees to sign confiden-
tiality and non-solicitation agreements,
• Require suppliers or vendors to sign
• Require independent contractors to
sign agreements that say "work for
hire" and assign rights in work product,
• Keep important information secret.
It's also important to take advantage of
By taking advantage of legal protections
- which include Trade Secret, Patent, Trade-
mark, Trade Dress, and Copyright - you
enhance your ability to defeat copycats.
Trade Secrets are legally recognized as
long as you take careful steps to keep the
secret. Secrecy works in some circum-
stances, such as the formula for Coca-Cola.
For many businesses, secrecy is not a
If your idea is "novel and unobvious," it
could be patentable. Patents grant exclusive
rights for 20 years in exchange for complete
disclosure or description of the invention.
This means that you can stop others from
making, using or selling products or tech-
nologies that use the patented invention.
Or, you can 'license" (grant rights to use)
the patent for royalties.
Obtaining a patent is an expensive
process. It's wise to carefully evaluate the
commercial potential of your idea before
investing in a patent application.
Protects any word, name, symbol, sound
or combination used to identify your goods
or services and distinguish them from the
goods or services of others (e.g., "Xerox"
is a trademark, and "Greyhound" is a service
mark for transportation services).
While registration is not required to
establish rights, there are significant benefits
to registration. The owner of the registered
trademark is PRESUMED to be the owner
and entitled to use the mark. You can use
a TM without registration. However, you
can only use the circle r ® after registration
has been approved.
Trade dress applies to the "total image
and overall appearance" that distinguishes
a product or service offering. To be pro-
tected, trade dress must be "non-function-
al," which means that it must be separate
from the product or service. It must also
be unusual and memorable.
Trade dress covers the "distinctive pack-
aging," the "look and feel." Hence, it is
broader in scope than Trademark protection.
Trade dress can include the design, size,
shape, color, color combinations, graphics
Trade/service mark protection covers any
word, phrase, name, symbol, sound ... that
identifies or distinguishes the product or
service from those made or sold by others.
Copyright protects original works of
authorship, including artistic or literary
work (from music and poetry to movies
and computer software), for the life of the
creator plus 70 years.
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