Intellectual Property FAQs

  1. My company developed a special training program to use with our customers. Now a competitor is using it without our permission. What can I do about it?
  2. I published an e-book on the web. Now I see excerpts from it on a stranger's website. What are my rights?
  3. My former employee's new employer is using my trade secrets without my permission. Is there anything I can do?
  4. I licensed software I created to another company, and now that company refuses to pay me. How can I enforce my rights?
  5. What remedies are available for infringement of intellectual property rights?
  1. My company developed a special training program to use with our customers. Now a competitor is using it without our permission. What can I do about it?

    If the competitor is using parts of your written materials verbatim, then you may have a claim for copyright violation. On the other hand, if the competitor is using your concepts, then you may have a claim for unfair business practices.

    California's Unfair Competition Law protects competitors and consumers from illegal, fraudulent, and unfair business practices. It provides for relief and civil penalties in cases of unfair competition. These cases often are fact-dependent and require the help of an attorney who has experience in intellectual property litigation.

    Delaying action can weaken your case, so you should consult a lawyer as soon as you become aware of the misuse. An immediate response can often resolve the matter without the need to file a lawsuit.

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  2. I published an e-book on the web. Now I see excerpts from it on a stranger's website. What are my rights?

    If you registered a copyright for your e-book with the U.S. Copyright Office, then you may be entitled to an injunction to stop the misuse and to statutory damages and fees for copyright infringement.

    If you did not register a copyright for your e-book, you still may be eligible for injunctive relief and other damages. However, the speed and amount of relief can depend some on where the offender is located.

    In addition, you may be able to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 to convince a web host or internet service provider to delete the offending material from the host servers or prevent access to the material. In these cases, however, it is best to quickly consult an experienced intellectual property attorney.

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  3. My former employee's new employer is using my trade secrets without my permission. Is there anything I can do?

    Yes. California law protects trade secrets and provides for remedies for their misappropriation, including injunctive relief, general and punitive damages, and attorney fees.

    Generally, a trade secret misappropriation claim requires a finding that the offending person knows or has reason to know that the information is a trade secret, that it was acquired improperly, and that it is being used without the owner's express or implied consent.

    Because of their confidential and proprietary nature, disputes over trade secrets often require the help of an attorney with strong experience in the field. Maintaining secrecy while engaging in a dispute over trade secrets often requires unusual steps including obtaining protective orders, sealing records, ensuring hearings are held in-camera rather than in open court, and securing orders directing persons involved in the litigation not to disclose the trade secrets' details without prior court approval.

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  4. I licensed software I created to another company, and now that company refuses to pay me. How can I enforce my rights?

    An attorney experienced in intellectual property license disputes can help you enforce your license agreement. After evaluating your license and determining your rights and duties under it, your lawyer will usually send a demand letter to the offending party. An effective demand letter covers all the relevant items without waiving or compromising any of your rights. Steps after the demand letter stage involve filing a lawsuit requesting a restraining order, seizure order, and/or preliminary injunction, and demanding damages, costs, and attorney fees.

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  5. What remedies are available for infringement of intellectual property rights?

    Courts grant injunctions, restitution, monetary damages (including actual damages, the amount of the infringer's gain), and punitive damages. In addition, the losing party's intellectual property rights may be canceled, and the losing party may be liable for fees and costs.

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Is someone using your
patented or copyrighted
work without permission?

Do you believe someone
has misappropriated your
trade secrets?

Was your California
protected personal right
of publicity violated?

2009 Best of the Bay Nominee for Intellectual Property San Francisco.



Fergus, A Law Office
595 Market Street, Suite 2430
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: 415-537-9030
Fax: 415-537-9038
595 Market Street, Suite 2430, San Francisco, CA 94105 Phone: 415-537-9030 Fax: 415-537-9038

Fergus, A Law Office is located in San Francisco, CA and serves clients in and around Emeryville, Brisbane, Alameda, Berkeley, Daly City, Sausalito, Albany, South San Francisco, Oakland, El Cerrito, Richmond, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, San Quentin, San Bruno, San Pablo, Larkspur, Pacifica, Millbrae, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, San Francisco County, San Mateo County, Solano County.

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