How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask montysimmons Your Own Question
montysimmons
montysimmons, Patent Prosecutor
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 315
Experience:  Electrical Engineer, South Carolina Attorney, Member of US Patent Bar
9204196
Type Your Intellectual Property Law Question Here...
montysimmons is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I created a portable bar in 2007, while doing this I took

Customer Question

I created a portable bar for red bull in 2007, while doing this I took the plans and the name of the bar "NightShift Bar" to the post office and had all this information copyright protected. yesterday I found a company in georgia "Pivot Corp." that has my exact bar and is even calling it the "NightShift Bar". They could have possible built up to 3000 pcs. at the price of $3500.00 ea. They are claiming that they designed and produced this bar in 2011. My proof or design ownership dates back to 2007. What should I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  montysimmons replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I can help you with this issue.

Unfortunately, you are in a weak position.

First, Copyright protects artistic expression, not ideas. Patents are used to protect ideas. If the bar qualifies as a work of art and they copied your work you could have a case against them. Such seems unlikely.

Now if they copied your plans and you can prove same, you would have a good copyright infringement action against them. IF the copyright in the plans is registered with the Copyright office, then you can get statutory damages and attorney fees. Would be a good case.

As for the "idea", unless you filed for a patent by 2009 the "idea" can no longer be protected by a patent. If you have a patent on the design (which seems unlikely but possible) such would be worth taking a look at the accused bar and compare to your patent claims.

Trademark: You could trademark the name "NightShift Bar" if you continued to make the bar from 2007 to present. Such would allow you to stop them from using your brand name.

SUMMARY

(1) Copyright protects artistic expression, not the idea. It is possible you have a copyright case against them but difficult to know base on the facts you gave.

(2) Patents - if you filed a patent application on the design by 2009 you might have a patent infringement suit.

(3) Trademark : you might be able to register your brand "NightShift Bar" if you are still making the item and someone does not own a similar name that would be confusingly similar to yours. If you obtained a trademark you could make them stop using the "NightShift Bar" name.

If you have more questions, please ask - and in fact, please ask question until you are satisfied.

Thanks

Related Intellectual Property Law Questions