Your training and experience shapes how you investigate and understand a business. Accountants look for numbers, geeks ask about IT systems, and journalists seek news. As a business lawyer I read contracts. I've reviewed over 5,000 contracts in my career.
This Friday I'm running a hypothetical at an exhibition for importers and exporters. The topic is Negotiating Your Supplier and Distributor Contracts.
In preparation, I created a handout listing 10 legal tasks for exporters and importers.
Can you file a trade mark application yourself in Australia, without a lawyer or trade mark attorney? Yes. Should you if you don't have substantive experience? No.
Do-it-yourself applications can be dangerous, inadequate, or full of holes for lawyers to drive trucks through.
Here's three reasons and hints on why you'll get value-for-money by outsourcing the job to professionals, at least until you gain experience.
Can an employee's strongly worded status update on Facebook repudiate his or her employment contract?
Take two. Could the update be evidence of an employee's unwillingness to perform contractual obligations, so serious as to give the employer a right to terminate the employee? A fuller definition of repudiation appears in the endnote below.
Certainly, Facebook content is increasingly cited in court cases, including in divorce and employment disputes. Posts have been used as evidence to justify termination of employees.
But could a status update, post or comment repudiate a contract, not just put it at risk?
I've been a publishing lawyer for 28 years. In the last year I've been asked by three different friends how to gather thoughts to make a proposal to a book publisher for a non-fiction title.
Here's my most recent advice, stripping it back to a checklist of seven tasks.
For decades the Beatles and Apple Computer, Inc were frenemies.
Entities associated with The Beatles sued Apple Computer, Inc three times over almost three decades. They were big cases, they cost a lot to run. They cost Apple Computer even more to settle.
This mostly trade mark dispute story has been retold many times. For example see Wikipedia. It's the frenemy relationship notion that interest us here.
Yesterday there was confirmation that legal advice pays, sometimes only long term.
Phone Directories Company Pty Ltd, a small Queensland-based telephone directory company, struck down giants - Telstra, Sensis and their claims to copyright in listings in the Yellow Pages and White Pages.
Victory came to Phone Directories when yesterday two judges of the High Court of Australia refused the Telstra and Sensis application for special leave to appeal. In Australia the High Court is the final court of appeal.
Few people know that usually more can be gained in a pre-contract negotiation than in negotiations after a written contract is supplied.
It's about the importance of process over documentation, preparation over punctuation, deal making over contract drafting.
To teach this, since the mid-1990s I've run three hypotheticals on the art of contract negotiation.
The hypothetical are both entertaining and informative. I prepare a script and characterisation for the players. The script allows for a great deal of improvisation. The characters are a panel of "actors" (real people in business playing their real life roles, eg businessperson, lawyer, consultant). The plot involves them talking through a deal in direct negotiations on stage. After many issues arise, this live deal making usually ends in a written contract.
The first and probably best hypothetical I ran was in 1995 for developers of multimedia or IT products at the first national conference of AIMIA. The script had a developer with digital media rights to the book, A History of Australia. The person playing the developer role engaged in negotiations with a panel comprising the book author, book publisher and a CD-ROM distributor. They negotiated together on stage bringing the print book to life on a CD-ROM. DVDs and the internet were not technically or commercially feasible back then.
A recent episode of the ABC's Media Watch highlighted the expanded use of watermarking in TV news video footage and news photos.
It highlighted ticker tape style watermarks on news video footage and multiple watermark labels on news photos.
News source logos have long appeared as watermarks in reports. The following Channel Nine video demonstrates the expanded use of watermarks as well as use of YouTube for public relations to shame Channel Seven.
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.