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Practice Areas / Intellectual Property Protection

Protect Your Intellectual Property

The intellectual property professionals of Pittsburgh based Ference & Associates work with our clients to obtain IP rights in the United States and other countries. The firm has established a strong network of foreign associates to handle intellectual property matters outside of the United States.

How can Ference Law help me protect my Intellectual Property?
We will evaluate your current intellectual property protection, we will strengthen it, and we will enforce it.

  • With our intellectual property lawyers’ experience, skills, education and legal knowledge, we prepare and prosecute patent, trademark, design, and copyright applications on behalf of our clients.  Click on a specific practice area to learn more about our experience in that area.
  • Ference & Associates works with clients to oversee every aspect of their IP portfolios.
  • We pride ourselves on creating value for our clients through our extensive expertise to prevent intellectual property theft.
  • We have established a strong network of foreign associates to handle intellectual property matters outside of the United States.
  • We are currently handling Intellectual Property matters in over 90 different countries.

I plan to sell my product in the United States.  Should I be concerned about getting protection in other countries?

  • IP protection is geographical in scope.  There is no such thing as world-wide IP protections.
  • It may be beneficial to obtain IP protection in the country that is the main market (i.e., the United States), other potential markets, and the most likely country of manufacture (i.e., China).
  • Online marketplaces located outside of the United States may only accept IP protection in their home country.

I’ve been selling my product for a while, can I still file a patent application? Is there a time limit for filing a patent application?

  • In the United States there are three main types of patent applications:  utility, design, and plant.  In other countries, design rights may be handled as part of the patent system or as part of a registration system for industrial designs.  When people talk about a patent application, they are generally talking about a utility application.
  • There is a limited window of opportunity to file a patent application.
  • Most countries require that a patent application be filed prior to a public disclosure of an invention.
  • The United States, however, permits a one year grace period from the time of a public disclosure or commercial use of the invention.
  • Don’t lose your patent rights before you even file a patent application!

I’ve been selling my product for a while, can I still file a trademark application? Is there a time limit for filing a trademark application?

  • A trademark is generally anything that acts as source indicator.  When people talk about a trademark they are typically talking about a word mark.  But other things may also be trademarks (colors – pink for insulation, sounds – roar of MGM lion for movies or the exhaust sound of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, the configuration of a product – iPhone design, and the design of a store – Apple store).
  • There is no time limit for filing a trademark application in the United States.  Rights are created through use and the first user of the mark is generally entitled to a registration.  It may be beneficial, however, to obtain a trademark registration to assist in policing online marketplaces, for example a US trademark registration is required to participate in Amazon Brand Registry.
  • In most countries outside of the United States, there is no requirement that the mark be used to get a trademark registration.  Thus, the first party to file a trademark application is entitled to the trademark registration.  You may want to file in other countries to ensure you have the ability to use your mark in those countries.
  • Each country has its own rules on what marks may be registered.  A mark that may be registered in the United States may not be able to be registered in another country, and vis-a-versa.

I’ve been selling my product for a while, can I still protect the design of my product? Is there a time limit for filing to protect the design of a product?

  • Design protection generally protects the ornamental (i.e., non-functional) elements of a design.
  • In the United States design rights are obtained by filing an application for a design patent, which is examined like any other patent application.
  • In other countries design rights in industrial designs may be obtained through the patent system or may be registered outside of the patent system. 
  • Some countries require an application for design rights be filed before any public disclosure of the design, while other countries provide a grace period for filing after public disclosure. 
  • Certain aspects of product design may function as a trademark and a trademark registration may be obtained, even if a design patent or other design rights are not available. 

I’ve been using my marketing materials for a while, can I still file a copyright application on my marketing materials? Is there a time limit for filing a copyright application?

  • There is no time limit for filing a copyright application in the United States.  Copyright protection attaches when a work is first fixed in a tangible medium (i.e., created).
  • It is necessary to register your copyrights, however, to enforce your copyrights.  For example, you are generally not permitted to file a copyright infringement lawsuit unless the Copyright Office has issued a registration certificate.
  • There may be benefits to filing an application before the first publication of the work or no later than three months after the first publication.

Once I’ve gotten a patent, trademark, copyright, or protected my product design, will people respect my work? 

  • You’ve done everything right and protected your intellectual property as best as anyone can. Why is someone selling a competing product, using the name of your product, using your marketing materials, or doing something similar?
  • A common misconception is that once a patent, trademark, or copyright has issued is that others will automatically respect your patent, trademark, or copyright. Even though you have done everything you could, people may still steal your idea, product name, marketing materials, etc.
  • When you have IP protection, you have the ability to sue to enforce your rights.
  • Not only can Ference Law help you get IP protection, the firm can also help you enforce your rights. Click here to learn more about IP litigation and click here to learn more about online counterfeiting litigation.

The firm is currently handling IP matters in over 90 different countries. With our experience, skills, education and legal knowledge, our professionals prepare and prosecute patent, trademark, design, and copyright applications on behalf of our clients. Fill out the form below to learn more about protecting your Intellectual Property.