What Is Intellectual Property and Why Should You Protect It?

Over the years, with the digitalization of nearly everything — from music and movies to books, newspapers, and magazines — you have probably heard the term “intellectual property” or “IP” mentioned countless times. As we all know, especially in the earlier stages of this digital age, it was a lot easier to steal products and even ideas in their digital forms. However, as time has passed, companies and their brands have sought to protect their intellectual properties through the legal system, safeguarding it from being copied, stolen, or otherwise plagiarized. Here is a brief overview of intellectual property and why you should protect it as a business owner.

Intellectual Property: Definition

In its simplest terms, intellectual property represents the intangible creations of the human mind. The word “intangible” here seems to challenge businesses since their entire existence, including bottom lines and team interactions — even their products or services, are based on tangible, physical things that exist in reality and derive financial benefit. However, creations of the intellect are just as valuable, if not more valuable, than physical, tangible objects. In fact, in many cases, physical creations are the manifestation of these intellectual properties or, at the least, the IP serves as an inspiration for something more tangible.

Types of Intellectual Properties

There are many IP types, but the four basics are:

  • Copyrights: Used to protect original creations, such as writing, music, movies, art; issued by the Copyright Office
  • Trademarks: Relevant to brand names, product names, and other specific titles, symbols, or designs for businesses and their offerings; issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Patents: Meant for the ideas that lead to the invention, manufacturing, and distribution of specific products; issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Trade Secrets: Methods, formulas, or any other non-physical vital information that can be used for economic gain

In addition, franchises might also be considered intellectual properties on their own.

Why Protect IP

There are many reasons to protect IP through the legal process, but some of the more compelling reasons include:

  • Loss of support for research and development to foster more original ideas (if businesses, artists, inventors have their ideas stolen, they stand to lose compensation for those ideas, making future idea development less enticing)
  • Less economic prosperity for those who develop the original ideas, thus making businesses less competitive in the marketplace
  • Consumer confusion caused by too many companies or people selling the same products, creations, brand names, etc.

Contact a DuPage County Intellectual Property Lawyer

If you or your business need to protect certain intellectual property or want to strengthen your brand by protecting more of its intangible assets, consider beginning the process of securing IP rights through a qualified Wheaton, IL business attorney. The skilled legal team at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC can provide you with a variety of different types of business solutions to fit your needs. Call us today at 630-665-2500 to learn more by scheduling a confidential consultation.


What Are the Most Common Types of Commercial Construction Contracts?

Illinois commercial real estate lawyer, IL real estate attorney, A commercial real estate development project will often represent a lucrative business opportunity for all parties involved. However, significant construction may be needed before a developer can realize the full potential of a property. Whether a new building will need to be built, an existing building will need to be refurbished, or other types of construction will be needed to ensure that a property will be able to serve its purpose, these construction projects can represent a major investment of time and money. To ensure that work will be completed properly, a construction contract will be needed, and the right type of contract should be selected based on the work being done.

Four Types of Construction Contracts

When parties sign a contract, they are making a legal agreement, and they will both be required to meet their contractual obligations. A contract should fully outline the scope of the work being performed and the responsibilities of each party. It should state the price of the project and how this amount may change if unforeseen circumstances occur, and it should detail a payment schedule and the penalties for late payments. Any relevant documents, such as blueprints and specifications, should be included in a contract.

Depending on the needs of the project, a contract will typically fall into one of the following categories:

  • Lump-sum/fixed price – A contract may specify the total amount that will be paid to a contractor for all of the work performed during a construction project. This amount is usually based on the contractor’s estimate of the costs of work performed, along with a markup that will allow them to earn a profit. Since these contracts are not very flexible, they are usually used in projects that involve easily-defined work with a set schedule and little chance of changes.
  • Time and materials – In this type of contract, a builder will be paid on a regular basis (usually daily or weekly) for the costs of materials and labor. These contracts are more flexible, and they are usually used in situations where the full scope of a project has not yet been defined.
  • Cost-plus – A contract may specify that a builder will be paid based on the actual costs of completing a project. The builder will be reimbursed for expenses such as materials and labor, and they will also receive an additional amount, which may be a fixed fee or a percentage of the total costs. These contracts allow for flexibility while a project is ongoing, and they may protect the property owner’s interests by specifying a maximum price that will be paid.
  • Unit pricing – For smaller projects or those which require detailed accounting, a contract may specify the exact costs involved for all materials and tasks. These contracts can ensure that a property owner knows exactly how money is being spent, and they allow for easy adjustment to a project’s total price if changes are needed. However, unit pricing contracts can be time-consuming to create, since they are very detailed.

Contact Our DuPage County Commercial Real Estate Attorneys

At Stock, Carlson & Duff, LLC, our attorneys are highly experienced in construction contracts and other commercial real estate concerns. Whether you are a developer or a builder, we can help you draft a contract that will meet your needs, and we can work with you to resolve any contract disputes either inside or outside the courtroom. Contact our Wheaton construction contract lawyers today at 630-665-2500.




What You Should Know About Probate in Illinois

IL probate lawyer, IL estate planning attorneyWhen someone dies without a will, or when heirs wish to determine the validity of a will, the decedent’s estate goes through a process known as probate. Probate can be a long and daunting process, and it may even be the source of stress when there are arguments about the estate, but understanding how it works can go a long way in helping you through the process.

Executor or Estate Administrator

During the probate process, an estate executor or administrator manages both the deceased’s assets and debts. If there is a will, this person is usually already named in the will. In the absence of a will, the court will appoint an executor (generally the closest family member). Named executors can decline their duties if they are unwilling or unable to fulfill them.

Creditors and Probate

Heirs are not the only ones that come forward during probate; creditors may also file claims to pursue unpaid debts. By law, they must do so within the fixed time period allotted to them. In addition, the IRS must be paid any and all income taxes due. All debts and taxes must still be paid prior to the distribution of any remaining assets or funds of assets. In addition, an income tax return must be filed for any assets that earn income during the probate period.

Inclusion and Exclusion of Assets

While many assets will go through probate, not all must be taken through this process. Those that do require probate typically include:

  • Assets held only in the name of the deceased
  • Jewelry, furniture, art, and any other assets that are not registered or included in the will
  • Any portion of assets held as common property with other parties.

Assets that are typically excluded from probate include:

  • Assets held in a living trust
  • Assets with already named beneficiaries, such as IRAs and life insurance policies
  • Bank account or credit union assets in which the deceased was a trustee for another party
  • Assets held in joint tenancy
  • Any assets registered in the name of the deceased as “transfer on death” or “payable on death” to another party

Speak With a Wheaton Probate Attorney

Dealing with probate and the death of a loved one is difficult enough without the added stress of family squabbles, will contests, and other related considerations. The good news is that we are here to help. Contact an experienced DuPage County estate administration lawyer at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC to get the guidance you need. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.