The Digital Millenium Copyright Act safe harbor provision protects Internet Service Providers from liability for infringing works published by third parties on their websites provided that the ISP has supplied the Copyright Office with details of their designated Agent. The procedure for doing this was updated and much improved by changes introduced on December 1st 2016.
The TMCloud e-Commerce module has a link to enable users to access the Copyright Office database to look up designated agents, to determine where take down notices should be sent. Under the new rules ISPs have until December 2017 to register and provide contact details for a new database, which is available at DMCA.Copyright.gov. The previous database will remain online, and we have added a link to the new one in the e-Commerce module.
One practical problem is finding out who the ISP is. To do this you have to venture into the arcane world of whois DNS lookups and numeric IP addresses. We have added a couple of links to the e-Commerce module to help.
It may be time to replace your trademark software.
Most trademark practitioners in firms and corporate legal departments are still using trademark docketing systems that are 15 to 20 years old. You may have bought it a few years ago, but getting an “old established” system is not a recommendation for software. Would you use a 10 year old cell phone?
Here’s what you may be missing
Ease of use: You hire a new paralegal. How long does it take to get him or her up to speed with your system? Do you need to spend time and money on training? Newer systems are much more intuitive and usable, and tend to work much the same way as you have come to expect.
Adding new trademark records: New systems let you download complete trademark records from online national trademark databases with one click. You get everything; the trademark, the logo, all the core information, the complete list of goods, and much of the docketing information. There is no need to start typing all of that in. And this is not just for the USPTO, it can be for up to 60 or more jurisdictions, many of which also give you the next renewal due date.
Custom Excel Reports: Excel reports are now the standard, and custom pre-formatted Excel reports are even better. Modern systems have flexible custom reports, and are not “paper based”. It’s easier to email and attach an Excel report, than print and mail pieces of paper.
Auto docketing: The last few years have seen significant advances in automatic docketing. You can now sync your trademark records with the USPTO prosecution history, and load critical due dates into your docket automatically.
Docket syncing and automatic emails: your docket goes everywhere with you, on your desktop at the office, your laptop at home, your tablet or cellphone, synced with your personal calendar on all the devices.
Online everywhere anytime access: Not just for a few reports, but full access for creating and editing records, running reports, handing the docket, on your laptop, iPad, or other tablets.
Patents vs trademarks: A final thought. Do you keep your trademark records in a patent system? Most legacy systems were designed for patents, to track and docket annuity payments. Trademark docketing was added as an afterthought. It’s not a good fit.
The TM Cloud Trademark Practice Management software was created to replace legacy systems. It is updated continuously to keep up with the changing software and docketing landscape.
One of the biggest complaints you hear about trademark docketing and management software is the difficulty of running reports. Most systems provide a selection of standard or “canned reports” but canned reports has become a pejorative term; it seems no-one likes them and they can’t usually be changed. “Custom” reports are just as bad; the experience there is of wasted time, trial and error, and an unsatisfactory result.
Reports are in many ways one of the most important parts of a docketing system. Content has to be correct, but presentation is just as important. An attorney’s work product, the face shown to the client, is often a piece of paper containing a report, an opinion, or a list of deadlines.
So what kind of reports should you expect?
At TM Cloud we provide three types of report.
1. Excel reports
Excel reports are the most widely used and the most popular, because of their flexibility and familiarity. But they should come pre-formatted, to look their best, and be amendable, to take care of the old rule, that whatever standard reports are provided they are not exactly what the user wants. You must be able to add and remove fields, and change their positions, the sort order and emphasis. A drag and drop interface is mandatory, as is the ability to save any changes. Having settled on your perfect report and made it the default, then you need to be able to select a set of records, (one click) go to the reports menu (one click) and run the report (one click).
Excel reports are editable but can also be saved as PDF. We also provide CSV reports which are useful for internal use, and for large reports (500 rows or more).
2. PDF reports
PDF reports tend to be fixed and not editable, but are good from a presentation point of view. They are attractive if well designed, with headers, footers, pagination and branding logos, but their basic creation is best left to programmers. Customized PDF reports are another User option.
3. Template reports
Templates are used to produce merge documents and standard correspondence and emails. Historically they have been difficult to set up and were usually run on a record by record basis. Now things have changed; template editors have the editing capabilities of Word, with the addition of a drag and drop interface for inserting fields and tables.
In TM Cloud, list reports can be set up as templates, and run from search results hit lists. This gives the user complete authorship of the end result, with output as html, a Word document or PDF. One tip for programmers, on how to design trademark docketing and management software: start with the output, the reports the User needs, and work back from there.