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Intellectual Property
Intellectual Property Protection in App Development

With the world economy becoming more globalized and highly connected by the Internet, plenty of apps developed in recent years have achieved tremendous success. It won’t be wrong to say that app development is in its ‘golden era’ right now. However, while developing a new app, a person needs to acquire Intellectual Property (IP) Protection to safeguard the app from the issues of piracy, theft, or infringement. Usually, the owner seeks protection from various forms of Intellectual Property like copyrights, trademarks, and patents, depending on the app and its applications.

NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT (NDA)

Developing or creating an app is not a task implemented by a single person as it involves a lot of brainpower and mental aptitude. In most cases, you would probably need to hire a freelance app developer having the appropriate technical skills to build something extraordinary and productive. But how will you ensure that they keep the project and its details confidential or don’t steal the idea after helping you out? The answer is by signing a non-disclosure agreement before the developer starts working on the app. A non-disclosure agreement or NDA is a legal contract signed between two people stating the information that will be shared between them along with the confidential information that they will not share with other people. Such an agreement offers aid to the owners by enforcing others to remain silent about the app developed. By including this agreement, the owners can retain their ownership of the app developed.

PATENT PROTECTION

If the developed app has something novel, innovative, and useful to offer along with the commercial potential for sales, the owner can file a Patent Application for seeking Patent Protection on some aspects of the app. While the software is not always something that can seek protection, there are other parts involved in the process of app development, which possibly can. It often depends on how the person has created the app as well as on the encapsulation of different methods to build something new. The legal IP authorities may also grant patent protection to the hardware necessary, such as to play the app, which will protect the invention and promote its commercial sales.

TRADEMARK REGISTRATION

The brand name and its image become the prime link between the owners and their customers. Therefore, while developing an app, the owners must protect their identity with Trademark Registration. A trademark registered for the name or logo of the app will create a brand for the owner by giving him the exclusive rights to prevent other traders from using the same or similar app name or logo. However, the developer must ensure that the name or logo selected for the app doesn’t infringe the IP Rights of any other app developer. The developers should follow proper clearance procedures before applying for trademark registration.

COPYRIGHTS

Depending on what the owners are seeking to protect, they can also acquire Copyright Protection for the specific or printed words used in the app, including stories, dialogues, to name a few. Other related works used in the application like the artistic works can also receive copyright protection as long as the software is not a part of it. Copyrights also protect the source code that goes behind the software used in creating the app. Source codes are a set of human-readable computer instructions executed to run the app on the desired platform. They meet the standard for copyright protection as they are an original work of ownership designed by the developer in a tangible medium.

BOTTOM LINE

Developers and business owners who either create apps on their own or hire independent creators must keep in mind that the apps developed are valuable assets of Intellectual Property. Like any other assets of a business, apps must also be maintained and protected. Smart business plans and strategies, along with sound advice on how to protect these assets, enhance the reputation of any business in the marketplace, and potentially monetize the creative ideas.

 

mcdonalds-Supermacsa-Trademark
Supermac’s wins Second ‘Mc’ Trademark Dispute against McDonald’s

McDonald’s has recently lost the exclusive ownership of the ‘Mc’ trademark on some of its products within the European Union (EU) after losing another battle to Supermac’s, the global fast-food giant. According to the judgment issued at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), McDonald’s no longer exclusively owns the right to use the ‘Mc’ prefix for a whole swathe of food areas. However, the EUIPO has also ruled that McDonald’s can legitimately continue to use the ‘Mc’ trademark on chicken nuggets and some of its sandwich products across the EU.

The decision follows a complaint made by Supermac’s to the EUIPO stating that McDonald’s never used the ‘Mc’ prefix in a standalone sense, but only in combination with other words to brand their products and services. This year, in the beginning, Supermac’s had also won its long-running dispute against McDonald’s by having canceled the use of the Big Mac trademark. In that judgment, the EUIPO stated that McDonald’s failed to prove the authentic use of the Big Mac trademark as a burger or as a restaurant name.

Pat McDonagh, Supermac’s founder, and Managing Director reacted to this latest ruling by saying that the decision has marked a victory for small businesses. He further added that McDonald’s tried to argue by saying that the term Mc was so synonymous with them, that they had the right to own and trademark Mc. At last, McDonagh stated that the fast-food giant is delighted for having the EUIPO ruled in their favor.

The latest EUIPO decision revokes McDonald’s automatic trademark rights to the use of the ‘Mc’ trademark on a long list of food items related to foods prepared from meat and poultry products (except chicken nuggets), eggs, cheese, milk, pickles, milk preparations, to name a few. The revocation also applies to many other food items and beverages like biscuits, cakes, cookies, coffee, oatmeal, pastries, along with the restaurant services.

In its recent submission, Supermac’s asserted that the trademark should officially be revoked with effect from five years following the date of registration since it was not put to veritable use by McDonald’s in connection to the majority of the products and services listed at the time of registration process.  McDonald’s contested this statement by filing several written observations and evidence for proving the fact that it had made use of the trademark corresponding to all of the registered goods and services, except for oatmeal.

As per the ruling of the EUIPO, since both firms had succeeded in some parts of the case and failed on others, they must bear their costs.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s stated that the EUIPO upheld the EU registration for its ‘Mc’ trademark standing alone for various core menu items that McDonald’s uses corresponding to its widely-known ‘Mc’ prefixed trademarks. He further added that the decision would never have an impact on McDonald’s ability to use the ‘Mc’ prefixed trademarks or other trademarks across Europe and around the world and McDonald’s shall continue to enforce its rights. Lastly, he said that McDonald’s considers the family of the ‘Mc’ prefixed trademarks among its most valuable assets and consumers across the globe recognize these trademarks with the exceptional quality offered by them.

 

Intellectual Property Rights
Licensing of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): Business Perspective

In today’s highly competitive business environment, a person may be interested in starting a new business, expanding or extending an already existing business, or improving the business reputation in the market. In most cases, licensing of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) can prove to be effective in achieving such business goals.

A licensing agreement refers to a partnership agreement between the owner of intellectual property rights, i.e., the licensor, and the person who is authorized to utilize such rights, i.e., the licensee, in exchange for an agreed-upon payment, i.e., royalty or fee. Licensing agreements are of the following types:

  1. Copyright Licensing Agreement
  2. Trademark Licensing and Franchising Agreement
  3. Technology Licensing Agreement

In general, some or all of these agreements form part of a single contract as the licensing agreements involve many rights and not just a single IPR. Being the owner or licensor of IP, a person can ensure a steady stream of additional income; and as a licensee, a person can sell, manufacture, import, distribute, or market the products and services related to the business, which he wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

In terms of the international context, a licensing agreement is possible only if the owner wishes to license an intellectual property right that is protected in the other country as well. Moreover, if the same IP Right is not a part of the other country’s laws and regulations, then the owner also has no legal rights to put any restriction over its use by anyone else.

COPYRIGHT LICENSING AGREEMENT

If a brand or a business entity is interested in:

  1. Manufacturing, marketing, or distributing the original literary or artistic works of the creators, or
  2. Expanding or extending their already existing market for the literary and artistic works of their creators,

then they may consider Copyright License Agreements. Sometimes, owners find it arduous to manage their Intellectual Property Rights and have usually formed collective management organizations for representing and managing the rights on their behalf. Therefore, if a person wishes to acquire these rights, he or she may have to reach to the appropriate collective management organization that will be authorized to license the rights of their members.

TRADEMARK LICENSING AND FRANCHISING AGREEMENT

If a brand or a business entity is interested in:

  1. Marketing or selling a product, or service whose trademark is owned by others, or
  2. Extending or expanding their already existing market for a product or service for which their business owns the rights conferred by a trademark,

they may consider a Trademark Licensing or Franchising Agreement.

A trademark helps in distinguishing the products or services of one enterprise from others by identifying their source of origin and making an implied reference to the quality and brand name. Therefore, in the case of a Trademark Licensing Agreement, the owner is highly advised to maintain a close connection with the licensee for ensuring that quality standards are maintained and the consumers aren’t deceived.

Through a Trademark Franchising Agreement, the owner of a business or brand entity who has already achieved some success corresponding to the trademark may collaborate with another enterprise (franchisee) who will bring in the expertise of their own or financial resources to provide the products or services directly to the consumers.

TECHNOLOGY LICENSING AGREEMENT

A technology licensing agreement consists of the agreed-upon terms and conditions using which the licensor authorizes the licensee to use the technology.

If a business entity is interested in improving the quality of a product or service or manufacturing a new product or service by using the rights owned by another enterprise in the form of a patent or utility model, then acquiring such rights through a technology licensing agreement can prove to be fruitful. Additionally, if a business wishes to extend its already existing market for a product or service for which they own the rights in the form of patent or utility model, then authorizing any other enterprise to use the product or service with the help of a technology licensing agreement can be the right solution.

BOTTOM LINE

Licensing the intellectual property to a third party can indeed prove to be very beneficial for the owners who don’t have sufficient financial and technical knowledge to explore the diverse applications of their inventions. However, the owners or licensors must be aware of the fact that not all licensing agreements lead to profitable and desired outcomes. Therefore, before signing any licensing agreement, the owners must ensure that the party with which they are working has the resources and commitment to take their IP to another level.

 

Pharmaceutical-Industry
Role of Intellectual Property in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the evergreen industries in today’s high paced world. Whether an economy is on its most stable behavior or in recession mode, a person can fall sick any day or might require his supplement pills. Therefore, it won’t be wrong to say that the pharmaceutical industry is a prime source of medical innovation. In a pharmaceutical or biotech company, Intellectual Property (IP) is indeed the most valuable resource, which contributes significantly to the company’s future success. IP is the bedrock on which the advancement of new medications and cures takes place. Without Intellectual Property Protection, researchers might not be able to explore new areas of medical innovation and uncover the discoveries that will prompt the treatments, and cures of tomorrow.

IPR IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY

The medical innovations and treatments leading to the discovery of new life-saving drugs must be protected through Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). As the relationship between a consumer and a pharmaceutical product is based entirely on trust, Trademarks help to distinguish and protect the brand on a company and product level. Patents offer pharmaceutical companies with exclusive rights to market their drugs and prevent others from selling, copying, or manufacturing these drugs for 20 years from the date of application. For pharmaceutical companies, IPR is a prerequisite for identifying, planning, commercializing, and protecting the inventions. They also encourage healthy competition, which promotes industrial development and economic growth. Additionally, IPRs provide sufficient incentives to these companies for investing in research and development.

IMPORTANCE OF IP IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY

Intellectual Property is essential for the continued innovation of new medicines, and holds utmost importance in the pharmaceutical industry, explained in the points mentioned below.

  1. PROTECTION OF MEDICAL INVENTION

Once a person or a company has designed or developed a new drug or medical treatment, they must protect it either by filing a Patent Application or by keeping it as Trade Secret. However, in the case of trade secrets, a drug can be reverse-engineered, leading to the invention getting stolen, whereas a patent offers much more watertight protection.

  1. DRIVES ECONOMIC GROWTH AND COMPETITIVENESS

Intellectual Property leads to the significant economic growth of a pharmaceutical company by awarding the sole intellectual property rights to the inventor of a medication or treatment. All the marketing rights of the invention lie solely with the inventor with further options of even selling or licensing it.

  1. PROTECTION OF CONSUMERS AND FAMILIES

In the pharmaceutical industry, Intellectual Property’s main interest lies in public safety as it helps the consumers in making the right choice while selecting a medical product. Intellectual property rights help in ensuring a standard by assuring quality, which further establishes a reliable and effective public health infrastructure.

  1. GENERATES SOLUTIONS TO GLOBAL CHALLENGES

Promotion of innovation is essential; however, at the same time, one needs funding to do so. In the pharmaceutical industry, intellectual property rights offer encouragement to develop drugs and vaccines for the new diseases discovered daily. They provide incentives for turning innovative ideas into possible new medications.

  1. PROTECTION AGAINST POTENTIAL INFRINGERS

Intellectual property rights allow pharmaceutical companies to take strict actions against counterfeit drugs. Without such rights, countries across the globe would have a difficult time in ensuring the safety of their medical inventions.

BOTTOM LINE

The pharmaceutical industry should make sincere efforts to manage their IP Rights rather than just acquiring them from the national or regional IP Offices. It is a matter of fact that yes; Patent and Trademark Rights are not of much worth unless they are adequately exploited. Enterprises in the pharmaceutical industry should extract full value from their IP assets and medical inventions by taking adequate steps to develop an IP strategy for dealing with possible infringers. Therefore, enforcement of IP Rights is crucial to ensure that their intellectual property is respected in the marketplace.

Domain-Names
Protection of Domain Names

In today’s highly competitive business environment, a domain name is one of the most valuable Intellectual Property (IP) assets a company could own. It is a matter of fact that yes; the choice of a domain name in this age of well-developed information technology is an important business decision as it leads to more publicity, popularity, and profitability of businesses. So, it is essential to wisely select your domain name and protect it irrespective of the fact whether you have been using it for years or have just acquired it.

Here are a few simple tips that owners should follow to protect their domain names:

1-Pay due attention to the administrative details

While registering the domain name, the owner should make sure that he or she is listed as the registrant, i.e., the legal owner of the domain name; the administrative contact, i.e., the individual who has the rights to alter the domain record; and the technical contact, i.e., the individual who will be responsible for addressing any technical issues with the domain name.

2- Always go for a reputable registrar

Large companies and organizations usually work with corporate registrars like MarkMonitor to manage their domain names efficiently. While using a retail registrar like GoDaddy or Network Solutions, the owner should ensure that the registrar is widely-known, responsive to the customers, and has been in the business for a long time.

3- Make sure to lock your domain name

Many domain name registrars provide the facility to lock, transfer lock, or register lock the domain name to prevent it from being deleted, modified, or transferred without the owner’s prior and explicit permission.

4- Consider obtaining similar domain names

Domain name holders or owners should consider registering similar or alternative top-level domain names like .org, .biz, and .net along with the domain names based on either the misspellings or the plural version.

5- Create a strong, unique password and protect it diligently

The owners should protect their domain names from unauthorized access by using a strong and unique password. Failing to do so could let someone else access your domain name, leading to its misuse.

6- Keep track of the renewal dates

The owners must establish a procedure to ensure that they do not unintentionally forget to renew the registration of their domain names. Owners with multiple domain names can even consider consolidating the renewal dates of all their domain names to make the process well organized. Additionally, renewing the domain name for multiple years could also prove to be beneficial.

7- Be aware of domain name scammers and others with evil intentions

Nowadays, unethical registrars often try to manipulate the domain name registrants into paying unnecessary charges. Therefore, the domain owners should be cautious while responding to any such suspicious emails from parties pretending to be the registrar of their domain names.

CONCLUSION

In today’s internet age, your company’s domain name not only adds credibility to your business but also builds your brand’s image by increasing its awareness. Domain names also help in generating traffic to your website, which results in more customers and better sales. Therefore, they must be efficiently protected to avoid any unforeseen circumstances, which might arise, leading to disruptions in business.

Intellectual Property
Intellectual Property and Big Data

In today’s global business environment, new advancements in technologies are continuously enabling a predictive analysis of Big Data. Such technologies offer business experts and individuals a platform for making better decisions and improving efficiencies boundlessly. Accordingly, companies and organizations around the globe are looking to tackle the power of information and analytics to make themselves increasingly agile, lean, and productive. Therefore, applying information to drive better insights is leading towards more effective and efficient business strategies. Intellectual Property (IP) is not exempted from this pattern as well. IP officials are now embracing the opportunities managed by better analysis of tremendous amounts of disparate data to ensure their IP portfolio is a significant contributor to the company’s main concern.

What is Big Data?

Big Data refers to the vast volume of both structured and unstructured data, which is analyzed using advanced techniques for making better decisions and strategic business moves. In recent times, Big Data is changing the way the world uses business information with the help of smart decision making and reducing costs. Combining Big Data with high powered analytics can determine the root causes of failures and issues in real-near time. Therefore, it will not be wrong that Big Data is the new oil that will drastically change the economies worldwide.

What is the role of Big Data in IP?

IP organizations often use many tools and processes that haven’t evolved as quickly as the businesses they serve. Analytics tools offer aid to the companies in harnessing Big Data for their business strategies, but they are not equally effective in decision making and analysis of IP. At a time when the enforcement, management, monetization, and protection of IP lie at the core of business value, IP intelligence solutions can help the business firms in identifying the market trends, opportunities, and limitations along with the assets they need to protect. Modern IP management systems can assist the companies in understanding the cost of protecting innovation and the value of their IP portfolio. Therefore, in due course, every IP department should be able to identify the annual revenue generated by an IP portfolio and the cost of managing their assets.

In a nutshell, to deal with complex and new sources of data, including litigation and prosecution, the intelligence now exists to improve their quality, applicability, and preciseness

Managing IP with Technology

Business companies and firms can buy real-time data on around 100 million Patent Applications and Trademark Registrations, which will be beneficial only if they have the handling power and analytics capabilities to gather relevant insights. A new generation of technology, including Data Mining, Machine Learning (ML), and On-demand Cloud Computing, can transform the way companies interrogate large sets of data by identifying valuable trends and anomalies.

Predictive Analysis

Nowadays, many business firms and their IP departments are deploying predictive analytics in various innovative ways. Predictive analytics can help in combining the internal and external data required for evaluating the strength and relevance of a patent. They can also offer aid to the companies in reviewing the patents due for renewal. Moreover, companies can make more informed decisions by comparing patent market share and the revenue generated against the cost of protection. Additionally, predictive analytics can also ensure the validity of data as till date information related to patents is entered manually, which is highly vulnerable to human error. All these examples can altogether reduce the workload of IP departments at a time when more applications are filed than ever before.

Conclusion

In today’s high paced world, every industry faces several opportunities and threats from the game-changing technologies. With the advent of Big Data, these companies can make decisions and predictions on their operations and working. For IP experts and chief officers, Big Data has transformed and redefined their reach beyond patent applications to a more fully shaped boardroom strategy. These tools exist today and shall continue to evolve. However, the companies that still manually search for relevant IP information are using their resources inefficiently and are missing out on driving critical business insights from big datasets.

 

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Intellectual Property Myths

In today’s Intellectual Property (IP) intensive environment, people mostly don’t set out to steal or copy any other person’s property, invention, or creative ideas. Rather, they get inspired by the creativity around them, which in turn leads them down to a daunting path of inappropriate business deals. If people don’t understand the laws and rights of intellectual property, their businesses can face a massive loss, ultimately leading to even bankruptcy. So, here are a few common intellectual property myths, which can prevent your business from having a negative impact.

Myth 1 – Registration of IP is the end of the matter

Nowadays, many companies and organizations strongly believe that once a trademark is registered or a patent is granted, they can be used without worrying about infringing someone else’s intellectual property.  However, a post-registration challenge can also be made to check the validity of a trademark or patent, which happens mostly in the cases of infringement. Moreover, other people can also infringe on your products, or services, therefore, it will not be wrong to say that granted Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) do not prevent infringement.

Myth 2 – A Patent protects an invention worldwide

There is nothing like “Worldwide Patent Protection.” For instance, a patent granted in the US only protects that product in the States. If the owners want to ensure protection abroad, they must file a Patent Application in each country (as per their local Patent Laws) where they want to use the patent. However, there are a few international filing systems, namely, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and the European Patent Convention, which can offer aid in obtaining patent protection in multiple jurisdictions at once.

Myth 3 – Trademarks protect only words or logos

A trademark can be any sign which is capable of being graphically represented by distinguishing goods or services from those of other undertakings. In addition to words and logos, colors (single color or color combinations), sounds, holograms, positions, or motion marks are also applicable for Trademark Registration.

Myth 4 – A person is free to use anything available on the internet

Many people around the globe believe that anything published on the internet is free to use as it is in the public domain. However, the content on most websites, which includes the text and images, is likely to be subject to Copyright Protection. If something is publicly accessible on the Internet does not necessarily mean it is in the public domain. Therefore, all business owners and other individuals should assume that anything available on the Internet is copyrighted, even if it doesn’t have the copyright symbol.

Myth 5 – IP is only for technology companies and large corporations

IP is size neutral as it benefits the companies of all sizes. Often, technology companies and large corporations like Apple and Google get highlighted in the news by mentioning their intellectual property. However, in today’s cut-throat competitive world, smaller companies are often more creative and innovative because of their better and smarter ways of doing things. Therefore, the intellectual property extends protection to all types of businesses in the market and is the best asset any company or firm could ever own.

Intellectual Property
Intellectual Property And Video Games

In the last few years, the video game industry has grown exponentially by fusing cutting-edge technology and imaginative creativity. However, video game developers and promoters often find it hard to safeguard their business interests in the game. In other words, they wish to prevent the games developed and promoted by them from being copied by their rivals and competitors in the market. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are associated with not only the tools required to develop the games but also with the content included in the game. Therefore, a well-defined Intellectual Property (IP) strategy is a must have to protect the business interests of the game developers and promoters.

COPYRIGHTS AND TRADEMARKS

In video games, Copyright Protection extends to the creativity and innovative expressions that go into the software (code), and also to the artwork and audio effects (sound and music) involved. Additionally, if the developers are willing to initiate a new project based on an already existing copyrighted work (so-called derivative), they must ensure to secure the legal rights and appropriate licenses from the Copyright Owners. Trademark Protection extends to the names, logos, and symbols associated with the game along with its characters. Therefore, Trademark Registration helps the customers in determining the corporate origin of the video games and builds a loyal relationship between them and the videogame developer.

PATENTS AND INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS

Patent Protection extends to the hardware or technical solutions along with the inventive gameplay involved in the video games. Industrial Designs protect the game’s visual characters, along with the videogame cover and its graphic interface. In the gaming industry, Industrial Design Protection doesn’t protect any technical functionality, but only the external features of shapes, lines, contours, colors, and textures of the game’s characters and other models.

OWNERSHIP AND LICENSING

Video game licensing plays a significant role in successful manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of video games. In the video game industry, Copyrights give ownership to the creators and developers of video games. The legally recognized owner of the game can initiate licensing contracts for selling and distributing their works. Since the very beginning of this industry, creators and developers have incorporated licensed material into their games in an undertaking, not exclusively to captivate everyone, yet in addition to attract a wider audience through the use of recognizable technologies to create more realistic gameplay.

For safeguarding the developer’s rights and interests, licenses must be drafted in compliance with the Intellectual Property Laws. The video game companies and independent developers must make sincere efforts to protect their IP and prevent its misuse through Copyright Protection and licensing contracts.

BOTTOM LINE

The video game industry is continually evolving; creatively, technologically, and commercially.  With such innovations and developments, come new challenges and difficulties. The developers and distributors must register their IP at the start of a new project as IP Rights provide a fundamental edge against all competition in the global market. They must ensure that the legal decisions are appropriate and in place to enable the development, financing, and distribution of video games. Therefore, it is imperative to develop a proactive IP strategy for securing appropriate rights that are essential in leading to the success of a developer’s enterprise.

uspto
New USPTO Trademark Rule Requires Foreign Applicants to have a US Attorney

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced a new Trademark Rule, which requires all applicants, registrants, or parties for Trademark Application whose domicile isn’t located within the US or its territories to be represented by a qualified attorney licensed to practice law in the US. This rule applies to all trademark applicants or parties whose permanent legal place of residence or business is not within the US.

Furthermore, the licensed attorneys in the US who will be representing the trademark matters on behalf of the foreign applicants before the USPTO are required to confirm that they are an active member in good standing of their bar along with providing their bar membership information.

The Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property (IP) and Director of the USPTO, Andrei Iancu, stated that organizations and businesses depend on the US Trademark Registration to make significant legitimate decisions about their brand’s entity. He further mentioned that it is imperative for them to have suitable tools to enforce compliance by all applicants for maintaining the integrity and accuracy of the registration process. Moreover, he also said this rule would prove to be a noteworthy step in combating fraudulent entries.

Mary Boney Denison, the USPTO Commissioner for Trademarks, said that many different nations worldwide are having this prerequisite for decades now and this new rule will help in improving the nature and quality of applications submitted to the USPTO.

This new trademark rule will be in effect from August 3, 2019, in the US.