We just received an alert from the United States Patent and Trademark Office that the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) and the Trademark Electronic Application System International (TEASi) will be down for maintenance between 8AM ET and 4PM ET on Saturday April 29, 2017. This should not affect too many people as far as deadlines are concerned as any deadline that falls on a weekend or a government holiday are extended to the next business day. Please be aware of this blackout period in case you were planning on doing some trademark filing and/or maintenance during that time. The notice received from the USPTO can be found below:

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Wells FargoOver the years, several of our clients have received trademark solicitations from what appeared to be legitimate entities, but which are in fact complete scams. I recently posted an article on LinkedIn regarding this issue. A typical example of one type of scam letter can be found in our previous article on this topic.

A fifth person has been convicted in connection with defrauding trademark owners and applicants out of millions of dollars using such a scam. The Department of Justice announced today that Albert Yagubyan, 37, of Burbank, California was convicted for money laundering. In short, he assisted the sham company in moving the money through Wells Fargo Bank into bogus accounts, then making payments to gold dealers and to entities in Europe.

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question markWhen a company is ready to bring its debut product to market, excitement may run high. The importance of protecting the company’s intellectual property rights in the new product is paramount.

While the company may enter contract negotiations with its distributor in good faith and in anticipation of creating a mutually beneficial agreement, a lack of experience or difficulty foreseeing certain issues may result in a contract that doesn’t adequately protect the company’s rights, or that doesn’t allow room for the relationship to grow and change. It’s important to ask the right questions.

Here are just a few of the questions companies may overlook in negotiating the distribution of a patented product:

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Intellectual PropertyEvery week, it seems, another news story appears about an innovative startup preparing to launch its new take on a product to a waiting market. While consumers and companies alike often eagerly anticipate these launches, they also pose potential risks to the company and its ownership of its intellectual property.

Today’s marketplace is more competitive than ever, and with more competition comes greater risk. How can companies protect themselves when creating a distribution agreement? What potential pitfalls arise, and how can they be avoided? What happens if the relationship between our company and the distributor changes? What if we wish to expand, or to end that relationship altogether?

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The Girl Scouts, in conjunction with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, have announced an Intellectual Property (“IP”) patch. Information about the patch can be found here. The Girl Scouts already offer an Innovation Badge, and the IP patch is meant to compliment the Innovation Badge. According to the USPTO website the “IP patch will show the tools that allow inventors to benefit from their inventions while also sharing them with others.The Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts also offer a Product Designer badge. This badge shows how inventions can be used to improve lives. Basic concepts of intellectual property protection are taught while Girl Scouts work to earn the IP Patch. The ways that IP protection can be used to protect an invention, as well as how various IP protection can inspire others to improve on inventions are also taught.

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prototypeYou have a great idea and you are ready to take the next step and have a prototype built. This may require the expertise of a draftsman, engineer, or manufacturing house, maybe even an investor. While the best way to protect any invention is often a patent, there may be considerations that prevent filing for a patent before you have to share your idea with other people. When it is not possible to file a patent before telling somebody about your invention, you should have a well drafted non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place before sharing any information. The signing of an NDA is standard practice in these types of situations and can help ensure that you protect your idea and preserve the ability to file for patent protection when the time is right. The NDA should be tailored to your situation and identify the information that is protected. Disclosing details of your invention without an NDA in place puts you at risk of losing protection for your product.

pods-02Most people today have heard of PODS by now. If you haven’t, they are a moving company that specializes in offering large containers you can pack your belongings up into that they call pods. The containers are then picked up by a truck and delivered to their final destination to be unpacked by the person that owns all the stuff inside. PODS built its whole company around this idea of movable containers, and the company branded those containers as pods the entire time. PODS recently got into a legal battle with U-Haul, another highly well-known company, over U-Haul’s use of the term “pods” for its new product, the U-Box.

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qualcommQualcomm has a history of fighting with a Chinese company known as Meizu. This manufacturer of portable electronics is known for producing items without taking the time to acquire all the proper patent rights for the products that it creates. That’s why Qualcomm has taken legal action against the company many times, and it’s why Qualcomm has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against Meizu yet again.

Problems with Meizu

Meizu has been caught making use of 3G or 4G technology without actually paying for rights to the patents that make this technology possible. Qualcomm has been able to successfully work out arrangements with more than 100 other companies, but Meizu reportedly would not settle or take any measures when pressed by Qualcomm to do so. This is a serious issue that Qualcomm wants resolved, but the company can’t rush the process and must deal with Meizu presumably wronging them until a court conclusion has been made.

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Donald Trump is getting a whole lot of attention these days with the election and now being the President-elect. He’s been involved in a whole lot of controversy and people are quoting him on a daily basis, but few are talking about his copyright infringement case. Donald Trump managed to achieve copyright infringement in a Tweet that he sent out. This isn’t an issue that most people would face because they don’t have the number of views that Donald Trump has, but he was called out for the action quite quickly.

The Controversy

skittlesDonald Trump sent out a tweet including a bowl of Skittles and used the bowl to compare it to the Syrian refugees saying that they are like a bowl of Skittles that will kill you. Of course this sparked a bunch of controversy, but the only legal issue came about when British photographer David Kittos noticed that his photograph was being used without permission by the Donald Trump campaign.

He looked closely at the photo and noticed that it was identical to his own posted on Flickr, and the photo withholds permission for others to use it. Now there’s a lawsuit against Donald Trump for unauthorized use of the photo.

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lightStar Wars has been popular for over three decades now, and with the latest movies coming out in the past few years, it’s no wonder that people are trying to cash in on them as much as possible. There’s still a strong following for the Star Wars movies, and there are a bunch of companies that have all sprung up around the idea of Star Wars. Many people are offering light saber lessons, or choreography lessons that are all based on the Star Wars world. This is something that LucasFilm is trying to put a stop to, and the company recently took action against many of the companies around the country.

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MONDAY, MAY 22, 2017