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Naming your business for success (and not regret)

There is a lot in a name when it comes to business. Here in California, we at Wang IP Law Group know the significance of your business's name and how much you want to protect it. The name you choose has a big impact on marketing success, and it could follow you around for a very long time. Once you settle on a name and start branding efforts, it is difficult to go back and change your mind. A little planning goes a long way toward you loving the name you choose.

To help with the name choice process, a business panel at Forbes put together several tips. A recurring theme is the importance of simplicity. Lengthy or overly descriptive business names are tempting, but can cause problems. Short names are easy to remember, work well on social media and help people find your business in internet searches.

What should you do if you are accused of copyright infringement?

If a company suspects that you or your California business is guilty of copyright infringement, the entity or one of its representatives will send you a letter or email or otherwise notify you via telephone that you are in violation of its copyright. The claim may relate to an article published on your website or to a photo you used in your blog. Typically, the notification will inform you that if you do not take steps to remedy the situation (remedy usually means pull down the copyrighted content or pay a fee), the owner of the copyright will file a court action against you. Upon receipt of this notification, you may panic, but do not -- instead, take the time to understand the claim and determine the best course of action based on your organization's needs and circumstances.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the first thing you should do upon receiving a demand letter is determine the validity of the claim. Review the letter for information regarding the copyrighted materials. Are the materials the letter describes material you are actually using? Are you using the materials in the manner which the letter suggests? If so, are the materials available via a public domain, or did you license them?

Preventing a cyber attack in today's world

One of the largest concerns for many organizations in California is protecting sensitive information from would-be thieves who may use confidential information to exploit critical data. In turn, companies may experience a decline in the trust of their customers, as well as a more difficult time rebuilding the integrity of their organizational processes. Businesses that prioritizes preparation for a cyber attack and fortifies their security systems can be better prepared to intervene in questionable situations before too much is exposed. 

There are many creative and strategic ways that companies can undertake the task of cyber security. When several business professionals were asked what they do to protect their organization, one suggested developing a security awareness culture. Organizational leaders should train and educate their workers about security protocols and encourage them to be aware of behaviors or signals that could indicate unusual activity. 

Keeping your intellectual property safe from thieves

One of the most valuable parts of your organization is the intellectual properties that allow your business to be unique. In some cases, the information you are protecting can be the entire strategy that sets you apart from your competition. At Wang IP Law Group, we understand the challenges that company leaders face in protecting their businesses in California. 

While it would be nice to believe that every person you hire has your best interests at heart and is committed to accomplishing company goals, there are those who have no fear of sharing confidential information that could potentially compromise the security of intellectual property that your company needs to be successful. If this information gets into the wrong hands, your entire infrastructure could be at risk of collapsing. 

How does my work end up in the public domain?

Many California copyright holders feel pretty secure that the government will protect their work. Still, with the recent news that 2019 will see a lot of copyrighted music, movies, poems and books enter the public domain for the first time, it is helpful to know how intellectual property enters the public domain and whether you should be concerned that yours might do the same.

According to Stanford University, copyright does have natural expiration dates, but those dates will vary according to when they were published. If a work was published in the United States before the year 1923, it is now considered public domain. However, thanks to a law passed in 1998, it took until the year 2019 for any works from 1923 to become public domain. From there, works published in 1924 will pass into public domain in 2020, and so on.

Can you trademark a dance?

Fortnite has been in the news a lot lately, and not just for its popularity among kids. This game has drawn the ire of some celebrities who claim that the game's creators have incorporated dances they made famous without splitting the epic proceeds the game has garnered so far. The Cheat Sheet explains whether you can actually trademark a dance.

The short answer is that dances cannot be trademarked. However, the name of the dance can be trademarked. And, if the name of the dance has been trademarked, you have legal standing if another entity uses it. At that point, the dance becomes the property of the person holding the trademark. And much like other instances of trademark infringement, you could pursue someone for damages if they use a dance without your authority.

Taking steps to safeguard your brand

Your trademark is a word, symbol or phrase that encourages your California brand's recognition. An effective mark quickly identifies products and services as your property and provides a focal point for marketing and advertising. The attorneys at Wang IP Law Group, P.C. specialize in intellectual property law and customize strategies based on each client's needs.

TrademarkNow notes that protecting a trademark in court is time-consuming and expensive. However, there are preventive steps you can take that reduce the opportunities for disputes to get that far.

  • Complete a thorough search and ensure there are no competing tradenames or trademarks similar to yours already active. Making changes to it now is less expensive than defending it later.
  • Once you are confident there will be no confusion, register anything related to your trademark. Examples include the business name, logo, slogans and product name. By officially registering everything that references the trademark at the same time, it prevents other parties from taking them for themselves.
  • If you have ideas for future products, register those as well. This protects them for later use, even if are only ideas right now.
  • Register social profiles that match your business name. It is easier to promote your company on these platforms when the accounts match your organization. From Twitter and Snapchat to Facebook and Instagram, this can be the difference between potential customers finding you or finding a competitor.
  • Maintain the registration and update the documentation as required. If you fail to do so, your mark could be lost or canceled.

Dangers of Conflict in Companies

When companies, large or small, in California bring together so many people of different backgrounds, beliefs, and educational pasts, there will undoubtedly be conflicting ways of thinking at times. In fact, many organizational leaders face daily challenges to reach amicable conclusions for issues that different people believe should be solved in different ways. Fortunately, the proactive and consistent efforts of such leaders to implement conflict reducing strategies can help to lessen their risk of experiencing a dispute that could hurt their organization's future and success. 

According to Chron, some of the potential consequences of corporate conflict when it gets out of hand may include the following:

  • Violence and retaliation;
  • Depression and other forms of mental illness among affected employees; 
  • Reduced productivity and effectiveness in day-to-day responsibilities as an organization;
  • Lessened respect and tolerance for people who think differently; and
  • Higher rates of employee turnover. 

California's Ban on Non-Competes

In terms of geographic size and economic sway, California is the sixth largest economy in the world, surpassing France in 2016. As a result, California's employment laws are strict, and lawmakers allow for little exceptions. One example of such a law is the state's stance against non-compete agreements. Whether you are an employer or employee in California, it is important that you understand the state's ban on non-competes and how it pertains to you.

According to HuffPost, California business owners attempt to skirt non-compete laws all the time. They attempt to do this in several ways. One such way is by claiming California laws should not apply to them because the business has headquarters in a state that allows non-competes. The courts routinely object this analysis. The courts also object the "choice of law" provision, which allows companies with multiple locations to choose which laws apply to them.

Business and Finance at Risk of Cyber Attack

Owning and operating a company in California requires organizational leaders to be strategic and thorough in making decisions that will steer the direction of their organization's future. While they will encounter roadblocks along the way, it is imperative that they plan ahead to be able to effectively mitigate certain risks before they create a dangerous hazard. However, there are times when unforeseen circumstances, such as a cyber attack, can instantaneously compromise everything a company has worked so hard to achieve. 

Cyber attacks are essentially the confiscation of data by hackers who ultimately expose a company's most sensitive information. The consequences can be insurmountable and range from lawsuits filed by victims whose information was compromised, to a loss of equipment or software that was damaged during the cyber attack. One company that suffered a cyber attack as the one described, disclosed that they had spent nearly $114 million in recovering losses and rebuilding damages. 

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