Understanding The Exception That Makes it "Intellectual Property"

The general rule is that "ideas are as free as the air," as well they should be. Intellectual property, however, is the exception. Qualifying creative works, know-how, and commercial names or symbols that distinctively represent the goodwill of a business are capable of "ownership;" namely, they confer rights to exclude others from exploiting them.

If you live or work in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, it is essential to have an experienced intellectual property lawyer in California who understands where the line is between "free as the air" and the proprietary exceptions. Similarly, in obtaining advice on your business, you should have an attorney who fully understands the "metes and bounds" of intellectual property protection. I am attorney Lawrence G. (Larry) Townsend, and I have been providing such services to my clients for more than 35 years.

Some of the types of IP services and representation I offer to my clients are listed below. Please call 415-882-3288 if you need help in any of these areas.

Trademark Law

One of the most common requests clients ask of me is to help them protect a new name or trademark for their businesses. Usually the first step is to conduct an appropriate search to determine whether the name is available, i.e., whether the name, or a confusingly similar name, has been adopted or registered by another party. If the name is available, trademarks are best protected nationally under the federal Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051 - 1127.

Copyright Law

As a published novelist, I appreciate firsthand the importance of copyright protection from the standpoint of the creator. Unlike trademark law, which is governed by both state and federal law, copyright law is entirely federal. Under the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 - 810 and pursuant to international treaties, protection is afforded to original works of authorship, including written materials, software, multimedia, sound recordings, and works of visual and performing arts.

Trade Secret Law

Having written the story about the ultimate secret sauce, I thoroughly understand the importance of keeping under wraps my clients' trade secrets, whether recipes, formulas, know-how, technical specifications, customer lists, customer requirements, pricing strategies and information, product specifications or other proprietary information. Trade secrets are protected under both common law and California's version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act: Civil Code Section 3426.

Contact An IP Attorney In San Francisco

To discuss your intellectual property questions or concerns, please call my office to arrange a consultation or complete the online form.