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Panicware Inc.’s Pop-Up Stopper software blocks Internet ads from popping up, but Panicware’s chief executive, Matina Fresenius, couldn’t block the company’s trademarked name from doing the same. Seattle-based Panicware is a startup with a minuscule budget and Fresenius didn’t want to pay a lawyer for a simple task. She registered Pop-Up Stopper at the Patent and Trademark Office’s Web site on her own, but to little effect. After the mark was registered, “everyone and his dog started calling their product ‘pop-up stoppers,’” she says. Fresenius had unwittingly registered the name in the patent office’s Supplemental Register instead of its Principal Register. Although marks in both registers are entitled to use the � symbol, those registered supplementally receive less protection. Principal marks, for example, cannot be contested after five years, and custom agents can even block the importation of goods that infringe principal marks. There is a four-level hierarchy of trademarks — generic, descriptive, suggestive, and arbitrary. Only the top two levels are automatically entered on the Principal Register. When Fresenius registered Pop-Up Stopper, the patent office classified the mark as descriptive and placed it on the Supplemental Register. “I had no idea about the technical side of trademark registration,” she says. The panicked executive called in the Seattle office of Darby & Darby. Partner David Telleksen successfuly had the mark moved to the Principal Register, and Panicware recently received a notice of allowance, which means that the full trademark registration will issue shortly. Telleksen also represents Panicware in copyright matters. In early February he won a default judgment for Panicware in an infringement case against a Toronto company. Mobile Software Technologies Inc. was selling a program that, he says, was “an exact duplicate” of Pop-Up Stopper. A federal judge in Seattle issued an injunction on sales and awarded Panicware $150,000 and attorney fees. The first year of Darby & Darby’s legal fees ate up approximately a third of Panicware’s budget. But Fresenius says she considers it money well spent. In fact, she’s so pleased with Darby & Darby’s work that after the copyright ruling, she issued a press release aimed at other startup companies: “We said it’s important to protect your IP, even if you are a small company.”

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