If you are like many small businesses, you'll have one major problem making it difficult to recover debts.
It's a problem that has an affordable solution in three moves. The solution prevents the problem.It's a problem that exists before the small business goes to a lawyer to ask for a solicitor's letter or court case work.
Does your business have brands, packaging and trade marks in different styles?
Do they send different marketing messages, lacking integration?
Integration improves legal protection for brands, names, logos, tag lines and other ID. Here's how.
Years ago I stumbled onto a solution, the concept of "brand architecture".
This happend while doing legal research for a client with a portfolio of trade marks in different styles and sending different messages. It was a mess, little integration in design and hence lowering the level of legal protection.
Do nothing if you receive an unsolicited email for a domain name registration in China. The message of the email will read like friendly advice. It's not. It's a scam.
The email will claim that someone has applied to register an identical domain as yours in China. Ignore. It's bull.
This China domain name scam continues. The authors may not even be from China. I first wrote in 2007 about this scam in Domain name scam made in China.
If you are an entrepreneur or start-up or developing the concept for a new business you know you'll find guidance and inspiration in how others have succeeded or failed. Their stories are inspiring biographies or valuable insights.
So what guidance and inspiration can you expect from your lawyer or accountant?
As a lawyer specialising in helping start-ups and SMEs, I've written 41 of these stories as one of my ways of providing guidance free-of-charge. Clients who call say they understand and appreciate what I've written.
Entrepreneurs see advantage where others don't. They seize advantage by aligning people and resources to their vision. The bolder the vision, the greater the need for commercialisation strategy, business process, financial modelling and contracts.
Here's a story of one such entrepreneur.
In 2003 a tall and lanky engineer came with his rucksack to the Dilanchian Lawyers & Consultants office for a meeting.
One of Australia's largest mining and steel production companies had paid him for his consulting time for a hydrogen diffusion system in steel production. It insisted on not paying for his intellectual property (IP) created in inventing technical designs and solutions.
A web article comment today via Find Lawyers from a "petrovyoung" reminds me how abstract and concrete thought can be two sides of the same coin. In practical terms it is a reminder also that clients should often have very open conversations with their lawyers about what precisely is their intellectual property.
Without open conversations clients and their lawyers can settle for mundane IP. This won't get them very far, but can give the client pipe dreams and earn the lawyer money. Every week we come across poor brands and domain names, crap patent applications, or mediocre materials from which people imagine they can build a copyright-based business.
Free and open are concepts which have become normal in entrepreneurial or internet businesses. Consider "free" software, "open" source software and "open" innovation. How each works commercially is worth investigating for internet entrepreneurs and businesses seeking fresh approaches. They are alternatives to "paid and closed" business practices.
Wikipedia is our case study for this investigation. How did Wikipedia arrive at its combination of free (content) and open (Wiki)? Which lightbulb moments turned it from an investment drain to a viable, funded operation?
Jimmy Wales co-founded Wikipedia. Born in 1966, he grew up in Huntsville, Alabama in a family that appreciated the World Book Encyclopaedia and learning. Under the direction of his mother and grandmother, Wales enrolled at Auburn University at the age of 16 and studied finance. He obtained a masters and entered the Ph.D finance program while also teaching university students. In 1994 he applied this academic background in finance by taking up a position as an employee in a Chicago futures and options firm.
I believe the common opinion is: "Yes".
That opinion was accepted as a given in this week's Q&A program. Federal Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, in defending the Gillard Government said:
"And in spite of some of the criticism and people saying things aren't working, it's 153 pieces of legislation we've carried in the new parliament. No legislation defeated, not a single amendment carried without government support. John Howard only carried 114 pieces of legislation in his first year. So the parliament is functioning. The government is functioning."
So Minister Albanese wants us to accept that 153 pieces of legislation is better than 114.
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.