Raising Your Intellectual Property IQ – Part 1

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 July 2021 01:34 Written by Chris Griswold Friday, 16 July 2021 12:08

My clients do a lot more than just real estate; more than just borrow money to acquire businesses, assets or capital; more than just form partnerships and entities, and do more than just estate planning.  They start up tech firms, service businesses and website development companies and ask me to help with their intellectual property and/or licensing issues and concerns.  Read more below.

Raising Your Intellectual Property IQ – Part 1

First, what is the purpose of service marks (SM) and trademarks (TM)? 

ANSWER:  It’s to properly give credit to the person or entity that created or provided the product or service.

Second, what is the difference between a SM and a TM? 

ANSWER:  You’ve probably heard these commonly referred to or used together, which can be confusing.

A SM refers and relates to a business that provides a service, like a window washing company or a trucking company.  Services (like of a doctor or a consultant) and physical acts (of hauling freight, like a trucking company or a landscaping company) are both the proper object of a SM, and the rights to them should be reserved with a SM.

Contrastingly, a TM refers to a product or a good that has been produced, and the TM seeks to preserve the producer’s rights to the intellectual property attached to such product or good.  The product or good can be both tangible and intangible.

Remember, that both services (SM) and products and goods (TM), while different, are both forms of intellectual property.

Third, what are some working examples of the differences between SM and TM?

ANSWER:  For example, the rights to a song or a movie (which are both products and goods) is intellectual property which should be trademarked – eventhough they’re both intangible.  Graphic art, computer programs (and their code) are also intangible things whose intellectual property rights can be reserved with a TM.

However, a computer engineer (that would help a client to develop these computer programs, and their code, as an independent contractor) is providing intellectual property in the form of a service, so, as a service provider, the computer engineering company would SM its services provided to such client.

In contrast, a book (whether a physical book or an e-book) is intellectual property (not a service) whose author would protect with a TM.

Fourth, can SM and TM both be used together?

ANSWER:  Yes.  Often, the same business will, respectively, use both SM and TM protections on its services (SM) and goods and products (TM) – since one business can offer both classes of intellectual property.

What My Clients Are Saying

“I have been extremely pleased with the legal services provided by Chris.  He is an expert on real estate issues; devotes immediate attention to our needs and follows through with all required action.  I look forward to a continuing relationship with Chris.”
Harrison Levy / Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Estate Planning Information – Personal Stuff

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 June 2021 07:57 Written by Chris Griswold Wednesday, 23 June 2021 07:57

My clients do more than just buy, sell or lease (or do 1031’s) with real estate or own businesses; they do more than occasionally try to get a complicated controversy or quiet title matter resolved (which relates to a $10M piece of property they have under contract).  They’re real people, with questions about their own, personal estate planning concerns.  It’s the little details of life that are sometimes most important….  Read more below (and don’t forget to click on my Facebook or YouTube links below to also see my short video on this material).

Estate Planning Information – Personal Stuff

Without attempting to cover everything, I wanted to cover some of the more basic, “blocking and tackling” type of questions that relate to this area of law, because most people have questions on these below:

First, what are the strengths / weaknesses behind forming a Trust?  Trusts are more expensive than a Last Will & Testament, have more moving parts, but you get to avoid probate (a lengthy, sometimes risky, more expensive process).  With a Trust, no one (usually) can alter your wishes after death, like can happen with a Will, and the content of Trusts isn’t of public record.

Second, what are the strengths / weaknesses behind forming a Last Will & Testament?  Will’s are cheaper (to form, but not to probate), and easier to put together.  However, the contents of Wills are filed of public record, and a Will can always be contested, with that added legal expense of probate (which is more than a Trust usually costs).  One probate I’m aware of ran over 13 years, involved over 100 heirs, had a prior Personal Representative that went to prison for both murder and fraud after killing one of the beneficiaries under a large oil and gas portfolio held within the estate.  Wild but true.

Third, what is a medical power of atty vs. a “general” power of atty?  Medical “POA’s” give someone else the power to make your medical decisions.  A “general” POA gives someone else the power to make you non-medical decisions (like dealing with your home, taxes and your bank accounts).  Both become null and void upon the death of the person making it (the declarant).

Fourth, if the words “durable” precede a phrase, like “durable, medical power of atty,” what does that mean?  “Durable” means that the authority given to the person, on your behalf, in the medical POA, remains valid, even after you are no longer competent or able to make those decisions yourself.

Fifth, what’s the difference between living wills, advance directives to health care providers and “DNR’s”?  Usually, and very generally speaking, these are all synonyms.  They relate to situations when, unfortunately, death is eminent (as opposed to medical POA’s, which usually relate to non-eminent type of matters).  The answer issues like providing life support, donation of organs, etc….

What My Clients Are Saying

“Chris Griswold has been a tremendous asset in making my dream a reality! His legal advice, strong business acumen and initiative in helping me find the answers got me started on the right track. His honesty, common sense and strong interest in helping me succeed was a welcome addition in finding the right partner for legal advice and direction. I look forward to working with him again in the future.”
Margaret Holloway / Partner, Café 501 and Boulevard Steakhouse; President, Senior Care Network / Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 March 2021 08:05 Written by Chris Griswold Tuesday, 23 March 2021 08:05

Q:  As Oklahoma City and Tulsa grow into world-class cities, more and more high quality, unique and beautiful art work is sure to begin to appear in hotel and office lobbies, convention center halls, and other public areas – thus making relevant the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (“VARA”).  What is it?

A:  Except for instances, among others, in which: i) the artist(s) of the work are employees of the person or entity commissioning the work; thus making it a “work for hire” under VARA, ii) the art work is an advertisement or promotional material, or iii) the art work is a work of nature (like a flower bed exhibit, which has no copyright protection, thus no VARA protection), VARA “…protects both the reputations of certain visual artists and the works of art they created.  It provides these artists with the rights of ‘attribution’ and ‘integrity’…,” which are the artists “moral rights.”  Carter v. Helmsley-Spear, Inc., 71 F.3d 77 (2d Cir. 1995).

Q:  What type of art work does VARA protect?

A:   Works of visual art like drawings, paintings, sculptures or photographs produced for exhibitions which are open to the public.

Q:  What sort of quantities of art are protected under VARA?

A:  Those existing in either one, unique, single copy or a limited edition of 200 prints or less.

Q:  What “rights” of the artist does VARA protect?

A3 of them:  1) the right of attribution to the artist (as being the work of such artist and the right of the artist to be recognized for creating it), 2) the right of integrity (which the artist has created in and through the ‘arduous’ process of creating such work), and, in the case of works of visual art of “recognized stature,” the right “to prevent destruction” of the art work.

Q:  Does the art work need to be registered under copyright law to have VARA protection?

A:  No, and the artist can still obtain basically the same copyright law protections as under VARA – without such copyright registration.

Q:  How does a building owner, property manager and/or a city council protect itself from artists later making claims against them (due to the eventual removal and possible destruction of the artwork), and how long does such protection for the artist last?

A:  For works created on or following June 1, 1991, they all should, for as long as the artist remains alive (or until the last of all contributing artists die), get a written, signed waiver of the artist’s (or artists’) rights under VARA.

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