Stone Law, attorneys at law, provides business and real estate advice to all of New York, and New Jersey. Our unique experience in property law: Intellectual Property, Real Estate, and Personal Property allows us to help you grow your business, negotiate the sale or purchase of a new home, or to protect your property.
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What is a Patent?
A patent is a protection granted by law for inventions. This protection prevents others from making using, offering for sale, or selling the protected invention. Patents protect an invention for a limited time and the patent owner can license others to produce the invention. There are three types of patents:
Before registering a trademark, it is important to search to be sure it is not currently registered and claimed by someone else. Even if you can not find a company using the name that you would like to use it does not necessarily mean that you are free to trademark the name. It is important to have someone skilled in trademark law conduct a search to determine whether you can protect your proposed trademark. It is possible that a few dollars saved on a trademark search could cost much more in the long run.Learn More
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has cancelled the trademark registration for the Washington Redskins, stating that the name of the team is “disparaging to Native Americans.” This was the second time that the case was filed against the Washington Redskins on behalf of 5 Native Americans. This decision affects 6 trademarks, which contain the word “Redskin.” The decisions comes based on the law which does not allow trademarks to be registered if the trademark “may disparage” groups or individuals and “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The decision by the USPTO does not necessarily mean that the Redskins will need to re-brand themselves with a new team name or logo, but it will certainly affect how it can control and produce merchandise. Since the NFL will no longer be protected by the same laws as if they had a registered trademark, it will certainly affect how they can bring suits against people who use their logos and names without proper authorization from the NFL. Attorneys for both sides have spoken, and the attorney representing the team stated that “this ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo.” The attorney for the team is confident that they will prevail on appeal and have a federal district court reverse the Board decision, as they have done in the past. The lead attorney for the Native Americans stated “this victory was a long time coming and reflects the hard work of many attorneys at our firm.” Over the years, there has been much controversy over whether or...Learn More
The FIFA World Cup is starting today and while many fans are eager to watch the first match between Brazil and Croatia, behind the scenes is an entanglement of intellectual property issues. The Federation Internationale of Football Association (FIFA) released a manual, entitled the “2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil – FIFA Public Guidelines for Use of FIFA’s Official Marks”, on how businesses and individuals should deal with any IP related issues. The manual is 27 pages long and includes a section dedicated to the official marks of FIFA, examples of how to use the marks, and other general information. In the manual, FIFFA states that any “unauthorized use of the Official Marks not only undermines the integrity of the FIFA World Cup and its marketing program, but also puts the interests of the worldwide football community at stake.” The manual lists the official marks, official emblem, official mascot, official slogan, official look element, the FIFA World Cup trophy, official poster, official fan fest logo, a list of protected terms and a variety of other words and marks that FIFA is aiming to protect. Of the protected terms, FIFA includes, World Cup, Brazil 2014, Soccer World Cup and more. By releasing this manual and instructions on use, FIFA is making a very loud statement that they are very serious about defending their intellectual property and those who use any of their purported trademarks without proper authorization will be held accountable. In Europe, FIFA registered the “Brazil 2014” trademark in a variety of classes, which are not related to the World Cup goods or services, such as in the class for...Learn More
Recently, Facebook announced that they have created a patent which would allow children under the age of 13 to join Facebook, if their information can be matched to the Facebook accounts of their parents. As of now, Facebook limits children under 13 from registering an account. Legislation known as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) limits how a website operator has to protect children’s privacy and safety, thus restricting the activity of children under 13 on most websites. In complying with this legislation, most websites have disallowed children from using their website because of the amount of work involved. The patent, which complies with COPPA would allow a system for children under the age of 13 to join Facebook under their parent’s supervision. Facebook released a statement to The Guardian stating, “Like any responsible company, we have looked at ways to tackle this issue, but a patent application based on two year old research is not a predictor of future work in this area.” The patent application was filed in November of 2012 and was recently published by the USPTO last week which described a system in which parents can “authorize and supervise Facebook accounts for their children”. In order for the child to activate their account, the parents would need to verify their own identity on Facebook first. Then parents would have the control to restrict how their children used Facebook, which would include restricting the use of certain third party items, like Candy Crush. By allowing Facebook to verify the parents of children on Facebook it complies with COPPA and would result in a...Learn More
Two Chinese companies have been locked in a bidding war to buy United States automaker Fisker Automotive Holdings, Inc. The overall prospects of the company are bleak (it is in bankruptcy after all) but whoever purchases the company will own the eighteen patents it developed. Outside of entry into US market, whoever buys Fisker will not have much else to work with. Fisker had received hundreds of millions in federal dollars to develop hybrid cars. However, it has not produced a car since 2012. It owns a factory formerly owned by General Motors but has let it fall into disrepair. After the company failed to meet milestones established by the Energy Department the company stopped receiving payouts from the federal government. Fisker then declared bankruptcy the bankruptcy judge set a February 12th date for an auction of Fisker’s assets. The company’s patent holdings are particularly valuable to anyone looking to enter the alternative-fuels market. These patents include drivetrain technology for electric cars, cover grille designs, and a fender vent. Fisker also has pending patents on aluminum subframing and solar technology in vehicles. Whichever company obtains these patents will be able to avoid years of research and development and be able to implement these inventions in new car models. Even if these new patents are never utilized by the buyer, they can still sure others who infringe on those patents are collect hefty damages. As you can see, patent protection has the potential to be very lucrative for both businesses and individuals alike. If you have an interest in submitting a patent application for you or your business, you can...Learn More
On April 10, 2014 OpenTV and Nagravision, two subsidiaries of The Kudelski Group, filed suit against Apple in the Northern District of California. The lawsuit alleges Apple is infringing upon five of OpenTV’s patents relating to video technology. OpenTV focuses on software for advanced program guides, video-on-demand, personal video recording, interactive and addressable advertising and a variety of enhanced television applications. Nagravision provides security and multiscreen user experience solutions for the monetization of digital media. The lawsuit states Apple’s iOS mobile devices, Apple TV, App Store, iTunes, iAd’s, Safari and OS X-based personal computers infringe these patents. This is not the first time OpenTV has sued a company for patent infringement. It also sued Netflix in 2012 and 2013. In that suit, OpenTV alleged seven of its patents were infringed which covered aspects of over-the-top TV technology. Cisco Systems was also sued by OpenTV under similar circumstances. Cisco decided to settle, but the settlement amount was not disclosed. OpenTV owns about 800 patents at this point. The company obviously has not lost its zeal for defending its patent rights. Anyone who operates in similar technologies certainly is on notice that OpenTV is watching. However, OpenTV did offer to negotiate licenses with the companies it sued. Apple, Netflix, and Cisco declined to obtain licenses but other parties may choose differently. It will all depend on how much the licenses would cost compared to a potential litigant’s chance of success and possible losses if a lawsuit goes south. The OpenTV saga serves a lesson on how to navigate a crowded space of technology. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is...Learn More
On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) held a public hearing at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco on its proposed change to disclosure of patent ownership. The proposed rule would require that all attributable owners of a patent be disclosed. Currently this disclosure is voluntary. These additional owners could be title owners or anyone who can enforce patent rights in court. This disclosure would be made when a patent application is submitted. Any subsequent ownership transfer or grant of an exclusive license would also have to be reported with 90 days. Otherwise the patent would be abandoned. A patent would also be abandoned if an exclusive licensee refuses to disclose its individual owners. This proposed rule change comes as the Executive branch is looking to crack down on patent trolls, companies which do not manufacture products but instead exist to enforce licenses. This goal was been stressed by President Obama and by many intellectual property legal experts. In fact, many parties at the hearing where support of the rule change. However, some patent attorneys fear mandating the publicity of an exclusive license will discourage the practice. They are also reluctant to support a rule change that can result in patent abandonment. There are also concerns for small businesses. If all owners need to be disclosed, then even small investors would need to be disclosed like family members and friends. This can be incredibly burdensome. The USPTO will take all these concerns into consideration. It may also investigate the potential burden the proposed rule would have on small businesses. At this point...Learn More