TZL 1338 (web)

TRANSACT IONS CMTA AND MCCRACKEN & LOPEZ JOINING FORCES IN THE CAROLINAS MARKET CMTA has expanded its operations to the Carolinas by acquiring McCracken & Lopez of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina. This joining of like-minded engineers who are dedicated to providing high-quality, client- focused service will revolutionize the practice of engineering throughout the Carolinas. Like McCracken & Lopez, CMTA has a strong background in higher education, K-12, local government and community facility design and

adds expertise in the Healthcare and Federal markets. In addition to expanding McCracken & Lopez’s MEP and commissioning services, CMTA brings a unique differentiation of services, including zero energy engineering, performance contracting, and technology design. Recognized as one of the top 25 engineering firms in North America and the nation’s expert on zero energy design, CMTA has designed some of the most energy-efficient hospitals and K-12 schools in the country, including the first Zero Energy school. We apply a proven

process that seeks unexpected solutions to challenging problems, including inventing new products, setting national standards, and performing research all while delivering exceptional results on all our projects. CMTA leadership are excited for this joining of like-minded engineers who are dedicated to providing high-quality, client-focused service and will revolutionize the practice of engineering throughout the Carolinas! CMTA is a multi-services corporation founded in 1968 as a consulting engineering firm.

STEPHEN KEEFE, from page 11

covers works ranging from prose scrawled on napkins to blockbuster films. Though the copyright laws do not require registration of copyrighted works, they certainly incentivize authors to take the extra step of filing for a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, which falls under the umbrella of the Library of Congress. Typically involving a simple online form wizard and costing a little over $50, many authors can easily handle their own copyright registrations. Registering a work bolsters the author’s copyright by providing a presumption of ownership and allowing for statutory damages. Recent case law also appears to make copyright registration a requirement for bringing a federal cause of action. Civil and structural engineers should consider filing for copyright registration for at least each set of plans they create, subject to any agreements that may be in place regarding copyright ownership with clients. Engineers may also copyright inhabitable three-dimensional buildings to prevent copying of those structures. As with many areas of copyright, authors should be careful to delineate whether they are working in a capacity of a work for hire made in the course of employment or as an independent contractor, as these relationships dictate ownership of the work. In general, independent contractors retain ownership of their copyrights in the absence of an agreement to the contrary, while the law generally considers the works of an employee as owned by his or her employer. CONCLUSION. Civil and structural engineers should remember that the legally operative word in intellectual property such as trademarks and copyrights is property. Innovators should consider following some of the exemplary best practices mentioned above to try to ensure that what they believe to be their trademarks and copyrights actually are their legal property, which they can enforce if necessary against infringers. STEPHEN KEEFE, P.E., Esq., is a principal attorney of Stephen L. Keefe LLC. After graduating from West Point with a degree in civil engineering and serving in the U.S. Army, he earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from Columbia University and practiced as a structural engineer in New York City and Virginia for six years. He served as a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, received a Juris Doctorate from the George Washington University Law School, and has practiced patent and IP law for over 12 years at leading IP law firms and as in-house corporate patent counsel. He can be contacted at skeefe@

protection. Only after the USPTO registers a trademark can that trademark owner use the circle R, denoting a registered federal trademark. Federal trademark registration on the USPTO principal register grants a robust bundle of IP rights to the owner, including the legal presumption of ownership of the trademark and a legal presumption of exclusive use of that mark across the entire United States, along with a host of other rights. After five years, owners may apply to make their trademark incontestable, which makes it invulnerable to many types of legal challenges. “Civil and structural engineers should remember that the legally operative word in intellectual property such as trademarks and copyrights is property.” To maintain federal trademark ownership, federal law expects trademark owners to vigilantly watch over their property. The law leaves it to individual trademark owners to monitor the marketplace for infringers and competing marks that might cause a likelihood of confusion with their own marks. Owners must also be careful in managing their marks and the legal structure used for owning them. Only the legal owner of a mark may apply to the USPTO for registration of that mark. Getting ownership wrong at the USPTO or failing to notify the USPTO of ownership changes such as legal entity changes may result in cancellation of the mark. Also, civil and structural engineers must conduct any licensing of a trademark and its associated goodwill carefully to avoid ownership pitfalls that may have grave legal consequences. Despite the challenges and complexities that accompany federal trademark ownership, innovators should not overlook federal trademark registration as a robust form of IP ownership and protection against competitors looking to hijack brands and goodwill in the marketplace. COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP. At least nominally, copyright ownership provides a relatively user-friendly framework to civil and structural engineers. Stemming from the same clause in the U.S. Constitution as patent law, material meeting the relatively low bar for originality becomes copyrighted subject matter as soon as the author fixes the work in tangible form. This generous grant of copyright

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THE ZWEIG LETTER March 30, 2020, ISSUE 1338

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