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Main Types of Intellectual Property Litigation in Washington DC


While no business wants to be involved in litigation, there are times where it may be inevitable. Perhaps you need to bring a lawsuit against another company who wronged you in some way, or your business has been served with lawsuit. One of the more common types of commercial litigation lawsuits involves intellectual property disputes. Intellectual property litigation is necessary when your business’s intellectual property rights have been violated or when another company believes you’ve violated theirs.

Intellectual property litigation is complex. It’s important to speak with a skilled Washington DC commercial litigation lawyer who can assist your company through this process. Here is an introduction to the main types of intellectual property litigation you could be exposed to.


Copyright law deals with the protection of original works like music, film, books, and more. It only protects the tangible finished product, not the principles and procedures that lead to the final product. Federal copyright law is covered under Title 17 of the United States Code. Under the current laws, a copyright is effective on the date the work was created and will last until 70 years after the creator’s death. The length of time is even longer if it’s anonymous or made for hire.


Patents will include inventions and innovations in the mechanical or technical fields. A patent protects the inventor from someone else making, using, or selling the same invention that is covered under the existing patent. Patents are filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and allow the inventor the right to that exclusivity for 20 years from the date the application was filed under 35 U.S.C. §154.


Trademarks include logos and various slogans that can be used to identify specific goods. It also includes protection for service marks and trade dress. Trademarks can even go so far as to include a sound or smell that is associated with goods and services and is immediately identifiable to them. Trademarks differ from copyrights and patents in that there is no set termination date for a trademark. As long as the trademark is still utilized in commerce, it will be valid.

A service mark is one that describes marks that help distinguish services that each company offers, and trade dress is the term used to describe a container or packing that is an identifier of a specific product or brand.

Trade Secrets

The fourth main category of intellectual property litigation involves trade secrets. Trade secrets involve information not readily accessible by the general public. This can be instructions, recipes, production processes, and any other information that gives your business a competitive edge. Trade secrets can be utilized to cover processes and ideas, which is a difference from copyrights. A document that is protected under a copyright can have a trade secret, but it doesn’t mean the trade secret is protected by the copyright.

Retaining a Washington DC Commercial Litigation Attorney

If you have questions about intellectual property litigation, contact a knowledgeable Washington DC commercial litigation attorney. At Tobin O’Connor Concino P.C., we have experience in commercial litigation and have over 20 years of experience helping businesses in and around the Washington DC area. Contact our office today at 202-362-5900 to schedule a consultation.




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