No accountant, business lawyer or executive in business can afford to be clueless about intellectual property ("IP") law. Every business has some IP, eg its name. Yet few know the many benefits of intellectual property registers, or even what they are. Here's an introduction.
For real property there are central registers storing information useful for legal work. They are used for real estate transfers, leasing and other transactions.
For IP there is no one central register for all IP owned by a business or other organisation.
Yes, there are central government registers for patents, designs, plant varieties, and some trade marks. There are also registers for business names and domain names.
Every day the Australian trade marks register, business names registers and ASIC company register is littered with new appalling names and logos.
If branding is so important, how come so few do it well?
Ponder the top 10 lists below of what branding is, and is not.
Discussions about law are never free of politics. Some areas of law become overun by politics. It's then foolish to discuss them using only the lenses of policy, governance or legal principles.
Patent law for online software, copyright law for traditional entertainment industries, and trade mark law relating to tobacco labelling are current areas of intellectual property law overrun by politics or public policy.
Law making in the U.S. for patents resembles a zoo for some commentators. A recent account of the debates and haggling over proposed U.S. patent law changes appears in the Huffington Post report: The Spoilsmen: How Congress Corrupted Patent Reform. Published on 4 August, it has attracted 2,167 comments so far.
Consultancy businesses survive on the quality of their insights and advice. Therefore every year consultants and advisers invest in re-inventing or creating new intellectual property ("IP").
Consultancy firms have special needs for the protection of their IP and legal position generally. Consultants share IP, a great deal of it is know-how. They share it with clients, employees, contractors and partners.
How do they stop going backwards when the people they work with seek to profit from unauthorised use of the IP? How can consultants protect their IP investment?
When people pull in the same direction to build IP a virtuous circle of trade is formed. This can reduce costs and turn-around times and standardise quality. Clients and others benefit.
An MOU is a tool for deal making, relationship formation, and business structuring.
It is used by companies, not-for-profit organisations, and governments.
Although a memorandum of understanding ("MOU") has no specific status in law, it's a very useful tool when drafted well.
There are many situations in which MOUs are used and in which they are very effective and suitable as compared to the alternatives.
A choice is often made by clients in consultation with a business lawyer between drafting an MOU, or a contract, deal memo, terms sheet, or heads of agreement.
The business of intellectual property is about the future.
IP assignments and investments are made and IP licences acquired largely in the hope of maintaining or creating revenues in the future.
Clients pay IP lawyers and patent attorneys for the clarity of their vision of future developments in law and technology.
Such professional futurism is a formal area of study in engineering - technology forecasting.
Australian businesses are at risk if they do not know that electronic document management and retention is essential for victory in litigation that involves more than 200 documents.
Rarely do we come across small businesses that keep up-to-date document lists, databases or repositories. Some don't have even a standardised system for giving files a title or date.
If you received court documents next week is your business ready for mandated electronic litigation? If you are not ready, legal costs will be higher for the IT litigation support services below.
- Digital forensics - for pattern analysis, mobile use, computer breach, malicious attacks, use of social media and internet, Anton Pillar orders for electronic evidence seizure, and data recovery and collection
- Electronic files conversion, for example mailbox extraction (PST, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange)
- Virtual data room
- Document handling - printing, scanning, coding, barcoding, and data entry
- Courtroom technology set-up
When a newish product is first launched it can acquire an initial round of customers or adopters. These customers tend to be enthusiasts or visionaries. They are the product's early market.
To sustain that initial growth the product must reach more customers. They may not have heard of the product or they may just be holding back from buying anytime soon. These prospective customers are pragmatists or conservatives.
In numbers there's more of them than enthusiasts or visionaries... much more. Getting them to reach out for the product involves what author Geoffrey A. Moore has phrased as "crossing the chasm". If the crossing is successful then generally more growth follows.
Moore's focus is on high-tech products. My experience is the analysis applies to other product types as well.
Followers of fashion and implementers of surface-level change are unlikely to achieve innovation, invention and creativity in business.
If its still hyped as "innovation" likely failure may fatigue your people.
Over the years we've seen many lists of innovation leaders, such as the BusinessWeek special report "World Most Innovative companies".
Which types of apps do people use most on their mobiles? This is revealed in the Telstra 2011 Smartphone Index. It prompts this question: How did the smartphone, mobile device and app market take off, and more importantly, where is it heading?
Statistics on emerging opportunities in mobile markets are useful to us as IT and mobile phone app lawyers. They are re-shaping the financials, workflow and futures of a huge range of industries, among them software developers.
As our hyperlinks in this article indicate, since 2006 we've closely monitoring mobile market developments in Australia so as to give timely advice to our clients.