Business leaders: Protect your company assets | SierraSun.com

Business leaders: Protect your company assets

Matthew Rozier, IP counsel at Snell & Wilmer, speaks to the business members gathered at an NNBW "Industry View" event centered on protecting intellectual property and assets on Thursday, Feb. 15, at the Atlantis Casino Resort.

Ruby Russell, co-owner of Sparks-based Stayput Beddings, believes she has a trademark and patent upon which is being infringed.

This was the chief reason why Russell attended "Intellectual Property: Tips and Strategies for Protecting your Company's Assets," an Industry View event sponsored by the Northern Nevada Business Weekly and Snell & Wilmer that took place on Feb. 15 at the Atlantis Casino Resort.

"I have a patent and trademark on a top bed sheet," Russell said. "And there are two ladies that have come through and just tweaked it by about four inches, using our design."

Russell, who co-owns Stayput Beddings with her partner, Louie Scheel, came away from the event with increased confidence that intellectual property lines were in fact crossed.

"This (event) was very helpful," she said. "We're going to write them (the infringers) a letter now."

Speaker Matthew Rozier, IP counsel at Law Offices of Snell & Wilmer, told the 80-plus business members in attendance to simply think of intellectual property as land that they own.

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The process of getting a patent, however, is rocky terrain. Rozier said the negotiation process can last years. Also, after people publicly disclose an invention, they have one year to file a patent before the "ship has sailed" and they lose the right to patent the idea.

"It's a big deal to file quickly," he added. "It used to be that you could go back and argue who invented the idea first. The U.S. patent office switched to: If you have something, they want you to disclose it quickly to the public."

With respect to intellectual property, speaker Gregory Livingston, general counsel at Sierra Nevada Corporation, also stressed the importance of having employees sign nondisclosure agreements to make it "very clear" they keep IP information confidential.

Event attendee Rena Zatica, co-founder of Front Office Staff, a virtual receptionist service, was struck by the necessity to even have prospective clients sign NDAs.

"When we bring a prospective client in, we like to show them how the process is for the phones and how we answer messages, and let them hear our girls answering phone calls," Zatica said. "Now I know we should have them sign nondisclosures when they come in … that they're not going to share this with anybody else, which is really important — I didn't realize that."