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Selecting a Name for Your New North Carolina Business.

Selecting a name for your new North Carolina business is one of the most important initial decisions that you will make. Why? If you simply select a name without performing any clearance, there is a good chance that another business will contact you and demand that you stop using your name because it is too close to the name of that other business or to the name of similar products or services offered by that business.

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Copyright Law

1. Definition U.S. copyright law protects original works of authorship.  Copyrights exist automatically, as soon as a work is fixed in a tangible form.  For additional remedies and protection, and as a pre-requisite for enforcing a copyright in federal court, works should be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.   A copyright owner enjoys a “bundle” of separate and distinct rights, including the right to:  (i) reproduce a work; (ii) make derivations of the work; (iii) sell copies of the work; (iv) perform the work for the public; (v) display the work to the public; and (vi) license any of the foregoing rights in the work to others.   Copyright law protects literary works (including computer programs); musical works; dramatic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works (including maps); motion picture and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works.  Copyright law protects materials on websites and in electronic databases, as well as in hard copy.   2. Copyright Notice Under current law, it is no longer necessary to place a copyright notice on a work to protect it.  Even though it is not essential, however, a copyright notice is highly recommended because it alerts the public to one’s  rights in a copyrighted work.  It also prevents any infringer of a copyright from claiming an “innocent infringer” defense – that is, that the infringer should not be liable for unauthorized use of the work because he or she did not realize it was protected by copyright.  If the notice is used, it should include three things:  (i) the copyright symbol © and the word “Copyright,”  (ii) the year of first publication... read more

Trademark Law

  1. Definition Trademarks are words, symbols, logos, designs, or phrases used to identify the source of a product or service and to distinguish it from others’ products or services.  A trademark is associated with products alone, while a service mark is associated with services, such as business consulting.  The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks. Trademarks can be word marks or design marks.  Word marks consist of a word or words alone.  Design marks consist of a design alone, a design combined with words, or words in stylized type.   2. First Use The key to protecting a trademark is actually using the mark.  Priority and ownership of a mark is generally governed by first use, rather than registration.  A mark obtains “common law” protection against infringement from the time when it is first used in commerce.  The U.S. government and individual state governments, each have separate registries for trademarks.  However, an owner’s common law rights in the mark exist whether or not the mark is registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (the “PTO”) or with a state trademark office.  A mark can be registered with the PTO only if it is being used in “interstate commerce,” which is liberally defined.  There is a limited exception to this use requirement for a PTO “intent-to-use” application, though, even for ITU applications, timely use must ultimately ensue.   3. Trade Names The name of a corporate or professional organization, by itself, is referred to as a trade name; rather than a trademark.  A trade name symbolizes the reputation of a business, as a... read more

What is “Clearance”?

  A) Definition “Clearance” means ensuring that one has all the rights of legal ownership and control that one needs to be able to publish and otherwise use content without infringing any rights of third parties.   B) Importance Failure to clear content exposes a producing entity to potential liability for copyright infringement and violations of other intellectual property rights.  Lawsuits over intellectual property rights may take years to resolve.  Plaintiffs in these lawsuits may receive large damage awards, and courts sometimes order defendants to reimburse the plaintiffs for their attorneys’ fees and other costs of litigation. For these reasons, it is critical for content users to ensure that any and all necessary permissions are secured prior to publishing or otherwise using third party proprietary... read more

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