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Copyright News

Sightings of Elvis not Protected by Copyright Law, Only Photos of Sightings

According to the FAQ section of the U.S. Copyright Office’s website, copyright law does not protect sightings of Elvis. However, the Copyright Office does provide instructions on how to protect photos and other depictions of Elvis sightings. According to the Copyright Office: “No one can lawfully use your photo of your [Elvis] sighting, although someone else may file his own photo of his sighting. Copyright law protects the original photograph, not the subject of the photograph.” So, if you had an Elvis sighting and were lucky enough to take a photograph or have a depiction of your sighting, you should consider protecting your photograph or depiction by filing for a Copyright registration.   Instructions are available on the U.S. Copyright Office’s...

Patent News

Employer versus Employee Part II: Pre-Invention Assignment Agreements

At common law, the general rule of invention assignment is that employees retain ownership of patents on their inventions, unless the employee was employed to invent.  (See post on Invention Assignment.) However, determining ownership of an invention at common law, e.g., who wins between the employee and employer, can be unpredictable and may involve complex factual issues relating to scope of employment, nature of the invention, and whether or not the employee used employer resources.  To avoid this uncertainty, employers have commonly used pre-invention assignment agreements. A pre-invention assignment agreement addresses ownership of an employee’s invention before it is even invented, e.g., addresses potential innovations.  A contract having a pre-invention assignment provision typically requires the employee to assign to the employer the employee’s ownership rights in all inventions conceived or created during the course of employment.  These contract provisions are known as pre-invention assignments, because the assignment is executed at the start of employment before any invention is actually conceived.  Courts have generally upheld pre-invention assignments under freedom of contract theories.  As stated in Gas Tool Patents Corp. v. Mould, 133 F.2d 815, 818 (7th Cir. 1943)(citing Guth v. Minn. Mining & Mfg. Co., 72 F.2d 385 (1935)), “patentable discoveries are the legitimate subject of contracts to assign, and that, with certain limitations, action for specific performance lies for failure to execute the assignment required by the contract.” However, if a contract “provide[s] for the assignment of patents beyond the term of the employment, [they] are to be strictly construed; they must be fair, reasonable and just. The rule is further stated in 25 R.C.L. Specific Performance § 108,...

Trademark News

Trademarks and Trade Names: Straight Up

Trademarks and trade names are commonly confused by small businesses and young entrepreneurs.  Frequently, non-attorneys (and occasionally some attorneys) incorrectly assume that once a business entity is registered with the Secretary of State the company has unlimited rights in the registered trade name.  The confusion usually occurs because many businesses use the name of the company, at least in part, as a trademark.  Unfortunately, this can be a costly mistake. Trade names and trademarks are different.  Registering a company name with the state at the time a company is organized, or when changing the company name, does not provide trademark rights.  To understand why, one needs understand the difference between trademarks and trade names. Trade Names Trade names are just the name of the business entity.   Companies may have more than one trade name.  The name of the company provided to the state in the organizational documents is one type of trade name.  A second type of trade name is the d.b.a. (“doing business as”) name which some companies use for different business divisions of the company.  In each case, these are merely names for identifying a business and generally used by the company for billing, taxes, banking, or other identification purposes. Trademarks Trademarks, on the other hand, are marks used in connection with goods or services in a manner that consumers recognize the marks as identifying a source of goods or services.  For trademark rights associated with goods, a mark must be affixed to the goods or product packaging so that that consumers would associate the goods with the mark.  Sending out letters with company letterhead does not...

Business Law News

CYBER SYMPOSIUM 2009 – SPEAKER ROLL

Cyber Symposium 2009 has completed its speaker roll for this year’s premier high tech seminar for business and legal professionals.  The Cyber Symposium will take place on Friday, September 25, 2009 at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah.  Details regarding the Cyber Symposium can be found at www.utahcyberlaw.org.  A list of the speakers is provided below.   Speaker biographies and registration details can be found on the Utah Cyber Symposium website.  Speakers: David BradfordCEO, Fusion-ioSalt Lake City, Utah Paul Alan LevyPublic Interest Attorney, Public Citizen National Non-Profit Public Interest OrganizationWashington, DC David KellyPartner, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLPWashington, DC Brock BlakeCEO, FundingUniverse.com, Inc. South Jordan, Utah Charles MuddPresident, Privacy Innovations, Inc. Chicago, Illinois Paulo Parente Marques MendesPrincipal, Di Blasi Parente Vaz e Dias & AssociadosRio de Janeiro, Brazil Pete AshdownCEO, XMissionSalt Lake City, Utah Doug BushPartner, Arent FoxWashington, DC Steve SpencerPresident & CTO, Twelve Horses North America, LLCDraper, Utah Michael J. McCuePartner, Lewis & RocaLas Vegas, Nevada Lee LivingstonCFO, Fibernet Corp.Orem, Utah Utah Governor’s OfficeA representative of the Utah Governor’s Office will be presenting a brief State of Utah Technology Address.  Confirmation of the actual presenter is dependent on scheduling of the confirmation hearings for Governor Huntsman’s appointment as U.S. Ambassador to China.  Details will be...

Employment Law News

Corporate Law News