When forming a business in Colorado, naming the business represents an important first step. In many cases, the business owner will want to trademark the name or elements of the products or services to create a brand identity separate from competitors. Before making a final decision, the business person must determine if the soon-to-be-trademarked identity is not already in use.
Colorado businesses are usually allowed to register any of their trademarks as long as no other party has already done so. However, the disparagement provision of the Lanham Act states that a request for trademark registration may be refused if the content of the trademark may disparage persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols.
Some of the most valuable assets that are owned by Colorado companies fall under the category of intellectual property, or IP. There are four different kinds of IP, and a company may need to take action to protect all of them. Copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets can all be protected with legal licenses and an IP management plan.
Many Colorado companies possess valuable intellectual property assets such as software code, patents, trademarks and copyrights vital for marketplace advantages. Interviewing job candidates or having employees lured away by competitors present two situations when intellectual property could be compromised by outsiders.
Intellectual property is governed by the state laws of Colorado and the federal laws of the United States. In the brand- and information-focused business world, many of a company's most valuable assets may fall into the intellectual property category. There are four types of intellectual property: patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.
Creativity and invention have been central to the tremendous success of the United States and world economies. One of the most important aspects that have impacted this is the ability for inventors and leaders of startup companies to patent their inventions. The ability to apply for patents allows a company or an individual in Colorado to reap the benefits of the labor and risk that go into development and to, potentially, help spur future inventions and new products.
Colorado residents likely know that lawsuits over intellectual property are not uncommon in the technology sector, and attorneys representing Google were in court on May 26 to answer allegations that the search engine giant used programming language owned by Oracle without permission when developing it Android operating system. Android has become the world's most popular smartphone and tablet software, and Oracle was seeking $9 billion in damages.
A Colorado business may have intellectual property that is very valuable. For example, the patents held by a software company may be the most valuable assets that it owns. For some, the loss of intellectual property would mean the end of the company or a serious setback, so protecting it should be a top priority.
Colorado residents are likely familiar with the three stripes mark on Adidas clothing and shoes. The highly recognizable pattern was trademarked by Adidas decades ago, and the company has defended its trademark many times. A lawsuit filed by Adidas America Inc. against Ecco USA Inc. is the latest court case involving Adidas' three stripes mark.
We have previously written about the importance of protecting intellectual property related to your business. The United States is a consumer culture, which means that brand names, logos and other identifying insignia are often crucial to a company's success. Protecting intellectual property can include many actions, including registering trademarks and patents and pursuing litigation if others unfairly usurp or copy these materials.