John F. Reha is a noted authority on asset protection issues. He has represented both management and employees regarding non-compete agreements, trade secrecy issues and unfair competition matters for more than 30 years. His article “The Law of Trade Secrecy and Covenants Not to Compete in Colorado” provides an in-depth discussion of these issues.
John was selected for inclusion in Colorado Super Lawyers in the areas of Business Litigation, Intellectual Property Litigation and Business/Corporate Law for five years in a row in the areas of Business Litigation, Intellectual Property Litigation and Business/Corporate Law. Only 5 percent of the lawyers in the state were selected. Contact a skilled Denver lawyer with any of your asset protection concerns today.
There are three federal statutory systems for the protection of intangible information: patent, copyright and trademark. There are numerous state protection statutes as well, primarily the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), which in Colorado has been adopted as C.R.S. §7-74-101, et. seq.
In addition, contractual protections are available to those who wish to protect their intangible asset base, through such devices as covenants not to compete, trade secrecy, and nondisclosure agreements, non-solicitation agreements and the like. In Colorado, however, significant statutory restrictions exist as to non-competes, which means that extra care needs to be devoted to developing non-compete agreements that will be valid in Colorado.
Patent — Patent protects the manifestation of “invention” by affording the inventor a 20-year monopoly on use of patented technology in return for public disclosure of the invention and the eventual relegation of the technology into the “public domain,” at which point it may be used by all. Proper patent filings are very technical matters and require the assistance of a licensed patent attorney (usually also an engineer) to be properly accomplished. The Reha Law Firm LLC does not engage in patent law, but we do have relationships with patent attorneys to whom we refer patent registration matters.
Copyright — Copyright protects “expression,” usually but not always of an artistic nature, such as books, scripts, painting, sculpture, music and the like. Copyright exists for the life of the “author” and 70 years thereafter. Like patent, copyright is exclusively governed by federal statute.
Trademark/Trade Name — The law governing trademark (and its close counterpart, trade name) arises primarily under federal statute as well. Trademark protects the identifiable marks, names and logos and “tag lines” (i.e., slogans or mottos) used by businesses.
The holder of a common-law trademark or trade name may have rights in the mark or name that are superior to those of a party that registers the same mark or name with the USPTO.
Attorney John F. Reha has successfully litigated disputes between competing registered and common-law mark holders. Under the federal Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C 1051, et. seq., USPTO registration immediately constitutes prima facie evidence of the registrant’s ownership of the mark, nationwide notice of the registrant’s ownership thereof, the mark’s validity and the registrant’s exclusive right to its use.
Zones of Use — Assuming the holder of a common-law mark begins use of the mark before the registered holder’s USPTO registration, the common-law holder will be the senior user of the mark within the “zone of actual goodwill” of the mark. Such zone is divided into three subparts, the “zone of actual market penetration,” which is the area within which the common law holder has actually used the mark in commerce, the “zone of reputation,” an area in which the mark’s reputation has been carried by word of mouth or advertisement, and the “zone of natural expansion,” which is the area within which the common law user would have, in normal good faith, extended use of the common-law mark.
Trade Name Misconceptions — It is a common misconception that obtaining a Statement of Trade Name from the Colorado Secretary of State may be evidence that supports the claim of a non-USPTO registered holder of a mark (in the form of a trade name) to priority under one of the above zones, or that it otherwise creates some form of exclusive rights in such name. This is not true.
Trade name registration with the Secretary of State has no real significance, aside from perhaps being some evidence of use for purposes of establishing some common-law rights in the mark. It is use, not registration, of a common-law mark that provides any common-law rights in the mark.
To schedule a consultation with our Denver business asset protection attorney, call The Reha Law Firm LLC at (303) 717-3632(303) 717-3632, or contact us online. Based in Littleton, our firm represents clients in Denver and throughout Colorado.
DISCLAIMER: This information is being provided as a public service, and by doing so, neither The Reha Law Firm LLC nor any attorney associated with The Reha Law Firm LLC is providing any legal advice of any nature to any person or firm, whatsoever. If the reader believes that he or she is in need of legal advice as to the issues discussed herein or for any other reason, he or she is advised to retain an attorney of choice to provide appropriate legal representation.
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$4.2 Million Unfair Competition Award Upheld on Appeal. John was lead counsel in Optimus Corp. v. Synergetics, Inc., Colorado Court of Appeals No. 12CA1910. On March 6, 2014, the Court of Appeals issued its Opinion unanimously affirming a decision in which $2,238,042 actual damages... Read more
Auto-Bicycle Collision Generates Two Limits Settlements. In 2012-2013, John represented a bicyclist who was struck by a pickup truck while riding. The cyclist incurred significant long-term cognitive injuries. John obtained a settlement against the driver at fault for the large limits of that driver's auto policy... Read more
Another Auto-Bicycle Collision Generates Limits Settlement. In 2012-2013, John represented another bicyclist who was struck by a car while riding. The cyclist incurred severe neuromuscular, nerve and spinal injuries. John obtained a limits settlement against the insurance policy... Read more