The Second Thing You Should Do…

After taking the survey at http://agglaw.polldaddy.com/s/irelandnisurvey and subscribing to this blog (see left column)…

Register the IP you’ll use in the US, most likely your trademarks. Many Irish and Northern Irish companies mistakenly believe that their home jurisdiction trademark registrations will be effective in the US. Nope. Also, some will think that the Madrid Protocol causes their home jurisdiction approvals to be effective in the US.  Nope. The Madrid Protocol is useful in determining applicant priority, but doesn’t operate to extend a home jurisdiction registration.

I always encourage Irish and Northern Irish companies to inventory their IP that they intend to use in the US before they expand to the US. Part of that effort is to ensure that we’ve properly protected what needs to be protected, and part of it is to ensure that, to the extent needed, any intercompany agreements have the proper scope.

Logos, trade names, product names, etc., can be trademarked here. The US is not a first-to-file trademark registration jurisdiction (where the first to file may prevail even if they are not the first to use–China is, for example, a first-to-file jurisdiction). And, yes, the US does allow for common law trademarks that arise from usage. But the most effective way to protect the value of those marks–the value built in Ireland and Northern Ireland and leveraged in the US–is to register. A basic trademark registration can cost less than $2,500 (with no opposition or other weird developments), and that’s a small price to pay.

The reason I suggest that this is the second thing to do is timing–the USPTO takes a little while to review applications, and may have questions. This isn’t to suggest that you wait on US expansion until after you obtain appropriate registration–you shouldn’t–but you should have your registrations in motion (submitted) when you hit the US market.

Do You Want a .health Domain Name?

As Irish and Northern Irish companies expand to the U.S., they need to make a decision or two about the company’s (or the US affiliate’s) domain name.  Companies that provide health products, services, and/or information–life sciences companies–can register for a ‘.health’ domain name from and after December 5, 2017. But registering for a ‘.health’ domain name can also present challenges to trademark owners in protecting their intellectual property. This is a great article from my colleagues Tucker Barr and Sean Sullivan on the subject: http://www.agg.com/do-you-want-a-health-web-domain-name-do-you-want-to-prevent-others-from-using-your-trademark-in-a-health-web-domain-name-05-02-2017/. Take a look!

 

 

No Termination Payment for You!

I was recently asked whether the US had any regulations similar to the EU’s Commercial Agent Regulations–pursuant to which, upon termination or expiration of certain agency contracts, the agent would be entitled to an indemnity/compensation payment. The specific question related to a sales agency agreement, but the answer for the US is valid for agency, distribution and similar agreements.  The short answer is ‘no,’ the general rule in the US is that there are no termination payments due upon termination of a ‘commercial agent’ (or expiration of the term of the agency agreement). Notwithstanding that answer, I’d point out two things for an Irish/NI company potentially appointing a commercial agent in the US: (i) the underlying agency agreement should be clear on intellectual property rights in that the ownership of principal’s IP remains with the principal, the agent’s use of that IP inures to the benefit of the principal, and that the agent, even after termination/expiration, will execute whatever document are reasonably necessary to reflect the principal’s ownership of its IP; and (ii) the underlying agreement should also be clear that the agent must return all confidential materials/information to the principal upon termination/expiration of the term.

 

Protecting Your Trade Secrets in the US

Remember earlier posts about non-disclosure agreements, and the role they play in defining and protecting trade secrets? Of course you do—but in case you don’t, one of them is here. I even drafted a brief two-page outline for NDAs, here.

The macro point of those posts, at least as to protecting trade secrets, is that in the US, a trade secrets owner must take all “reasonably available steps” to protect their trade secrets. In an unpublished opinion filed on May 8, 2015, the US Court of Continue reading

Protect Your IP (Really)

Every now and then, a non-US company will contact me after they have started US operations…but have not protected their intellectual property here. In some cases, the company does not have a full picture of what they have or where they could/should protect it—they have not audited what they have. Continue reading