In parts one and two of this three-part series, a Jacksonville construction lawyer from Cotney Construction Law discussed the importance of protecting intellectual property in the construction industry.
First, we defined the term “intellectual property” and discussed why maintaining strict control and ownership of intellectual property is vital to the success of a contracting business.
Then, we discussed copyrights and trademarks in the construction industry. As we mentioned, these types of intellectual property hold immense value for contractors and can effectively make or break a contractor’s business.
In the final section of this series, we will discuss the value of patents and trade secrets in the construction industry. If you need help protecting your intellectual property from theft, consult a Jacksonville construction attorney for assistance with a wide range of services including intellectual property disputes, audits, and more.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a patent as a “limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.”
In the construction industry, patentable materials include machines, industrial processes, chemical compositions, and manufactured articles. The most common type of patent is the utility patent, which lasts 20 years from the date of application. Design patents last 15 years from issuance if filed on or after May 13, 2015. Obtaining a patent is contingent on the invention being new, useful, and non-obvious.
Patents in the construction industry cover construction processes, equipment, materials, specific business strategies, and more. Since patent infringement cases are complex and potentially costly, it’s best to partner with a Jacksonville construction attorney who has experience working through cases involving construction industry patents. If you wrongly pursue another party, you could find yourself paying out extensive damages.
Trade secrets include any piece of valuable information that is not public knowledge. This can include business information, technical information, or pricing information; as well as customer lists, construction methodologies, strategies, and processes.
In the State of Florida, a contractor can seek legal recourse for the theft or misappropriation of a trade secret if they can prove:
- That they possess a trade secret.
- That they made reasonable attempts to protect the trade secret.
- That the trade secret was misappropriated.
These qualifications were established in Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. v. Dole Food Co., Inc., 136 F. Supp. 2d 1271 (S.D. Fla. 2001) and the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
According to Section 688.002 of the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act, misappropriation is defined as the “acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means.” If the owner of the trade secret fails to provide express or implied consent, the person divulging or utilizing the trade secret is potentially liable for intellectual property infringement.
The success of your contracting business is of paramount importance, so don’t let a competitor take advantage of the ideas that helped you get to where you are today. Always keep a close eye on your intellectual property and consult a Jacksonville construction lawyer for any legal assistance pertaining to intellectual property law.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.