A compelling argument for the existence of intellectual property laws can be found in the example of the discovery and commercialisation of the steam engine in Great Britain during the Industrial Revolution.
In his 2010 book The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry and Invention*, U.S. author William Rosen illustrates how economic imperative in the age of steam drove the rise in patents issued in Britain.
The approach in Britain of using patents to encourage invention is in contrast to the contemporaneous approach in France, where inventors were awarded cash for their inventions: “Between 1740 and 1780, the French inclination to reward inventors not by enforcing a natural right but by the grant of pensions and prizes resulted in the award of nearly 7 million livres – approximately $US600 million today – to inventors of largely forgotten devices…”. (p. 268)
Do you ask your lawyer to check over template agreements that you have prepared yourself or obtained online for free or a fee? Unless you're experienced, you should. They may not provide the legal protection you think they do.
Such agreements are often riddled with errors or require customisation, even though you were not told upfront. The gaps and holes leave room for others to enter and take the treasures in your intellectual property castle.
A non-disclosure agreement ("NDA") is often the culprit in these do-it-yourself contract cases.
What can innovators learn from Time Out?
This jazz album was recorded in 1959. It's the first instrumental jazz album to sell over a million copies. For decades it has been in the list of the top 10 biggest selling jazz albums of all time. Here's the short version of the story.
When the band leader, David Brubeck, decided to record this album his record label people at Columbia Records said no. The music as composed by Brubeck was very unusual for the time in its time signatures and style.
Some years ago I had a case in which the parties each acted without legal representation and never agreed on a specific fee for services provided. The services changed day by day. The hourly rates for fees payable varied.
After disagreement arose between the parties, the service provider became my client. My client had performed the services and its first series of invoices had been paid.
Subsequently the services required of my client had varied greatly. Documentation in the form of a contract with a price schedule had been prepared and discussed but the document remained unsettled, unsigned and under negotiation. The parties fell into dispute.
My client's predicament was that services had been performed, but its second series of invoices were unpaid.
It is commonplace for people to believe things are worth a specific sum, call it $X. One number. $X is what is charged for each grocery item, new car and even residential premises.
This was the lead story in our May 2011 Cue newsletter. Send an email to subcribe.
Recently Dilanchian assisted a booming online software company in a potential sale of business for an eight figure sum. The project confirmed why we are lawyers and consultants; and underlined the wisdom of calling at your project's concept stage.
Writing a good letter of demand involves professionalism in dealing with people and information. There's a method that can be illustrated with a fee for service contract that has gone wrong.
Assume things have not gone to plan under that contract. The service was delivered but the fee was not paid. The unpaid service provider has made repeated requests. Harsh words have been spoken and tension has arisen.
The two parties should avoid the slippery slope. They should try to work together to overcome issues. They've tried negotiation with no resolution. There's been haggling and even verbal abuse. A lawyer might have been called in earlier, but as usually, hasn't been.
The unpaid party now meets with a lawyer.
Having gone to a lawyer, the unpaid party must communicate a story, collect and supply the evidence, and then help the lawyer examine the facts and evidence. If all this is not done the lawyer should not be forming an opinion and giving advice on what to do next.
To their detriment, too often clients as well as lawyers skim or skip the first and second stage of proposed transactions. When they do this they enter a forest with no clear path to follow.
When they follow the three stage transaction or contracting process they move from casual dating, to going steady, to getting married. It's that simple.
There are three stages for most intellectual property and business law transactions. The first stage is needs assessment. The second, deal points definition. Only after the first and second stage are at least properly considered should anyone go to the third stage - formal contract drafting.
Under section 34 of the Copyright Act 1968 the duration of copyright in literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work lasts for the life of the author and for 70 years after the author's death.
How did Australian copyright law reach this outcome, ie this long duration for copyright works?
As lawyers specialising in intellectual property and business law we're seeing in 2011 a spike of creative destruction at work in the economy, law and in legal practice.
What is the flow of this high level of change, what's fueling it, how can your business respond? This post is a brief enquiry into these questions.
We are asking these questions because economics, technology and business changes take place generally well before law changes in response. Understand the former and you'll be better at anticipating the latter.