Intellectual Property Law

New Matter WINTER 2014, Volume 39, Number 4

Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

Thomas A. Ward


Welcome to the winter edition of New Matter for 2014. The cover art of this edition features our Patent Interest Group, but with a slight twist since the center art is a design patent for a snowman. Similar to copyrights, design patents allow for protection of nonfunctional features. The difference is a much shorter 15-year term for design patents as opposed to at least life plus 70 years for a copyright holder. Although copyright has a much longer term, one worry with the copyright is that a person who independently creates the same work cannot be sued for infringement, while the patent holder can still sue. Thus, if you build a snowman very similar to the snowman on the cover, you can be sued for design patent infringement even if you had never seen the snowman design before, while the copyright owner could not sue for infringement of an independently created snowman. So for a happy and lawsuit free holiday season, make sure you don’t create the snowman featured on our cover.

The IP Section wishes to congratulate Craig Holden for becoming State Bar president in September 2014. Craig Holden was a former member of the Executive Committee of the IP Section. Craig was also formerly chair of the IP Law Section’s Diversity Interest Group. We wish him the best as he takes on the role of State Bar President for the coming year.

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