Intellectual Property Law Reinforces Itself With New Trade Secrets Protection Law

The President and Congress have helped add another protective wall to the realm of Intellectual Property Law this week. The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 is a new federal law created to protect American companies and their trade secrets from corporate espionage and theft. Although trade secrets are protected by most individual state laws, they are not protected by federal law. According to the National Law Review, for the first time, the DTSA will create a federal civil cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets. The law will hold a provision protecting individuals who disclose trade secret information to their attorneys.

Trade secrets are different in nature from its own Intellectual Property counterparts. Unlike patents, trademarks, and copyrights, trade secrets are registered in public databases. Trade secrets are unknown to the general public. Take for example Coca Cola’s secret formula, or Google’s security algorithms. Although they are known to exist, few know what they actually are and how they are made.

Trade secret protections guard the innovations and creativity of American firms in the United States, allowing for a fair and competitive market that the American economic system attempts to foster. They guarantee a competitive advantage over competitors and ensure a system where innovation is valued. With the rise of the global, digital economy, and the advent of the internet, trade secret threats are at an all time high.

According to Michelle K. Lee, former Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, trade secret thefts cost U.S. innovators more than an estimated $300 billion in revenue annually. Cyber Espionage has misappropriated trade secrets across state and international borders, potentially undermining national security and weakening the U.S. economy. With the Defend Trade Secrets Act, businesses are now better protected with the support of the federal government.

The National Law Review recommends that all companies consider reviewing and revising their policies and contracts governing trade secrets applicable to employees, contractors, vendors, and service providers. This will ensure that all involved parties comply with DTSA standards.

Thanks to a joint effort by Congress and the President, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 is now law. This is surely a win for American innovation and trade protection in the United States.

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Protect your Startup with this Intellectual Property Crash Course

There is no doubt that protecting your company’s intangible assets makes for a sound business practice. However, even if you are in the early stages of your business, you should strongly consider protecting your intellectual property. Many infant companies and startups make the mistake of prioritizing their IP last, which often leaves them in difficult predicaments once they are better established. To avoid this, make sure to consult with IP attorneys during your company’s early stages. Until then, here are some informational tips on IP you should consider for your startup.

What is IP?

Intellectual Property – or IP for short – falls into four different categories which include: trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and copyrights. Copyrights protect original works of authorship. The holder of a copyright has the exclusive right to distribute and reproduce the copyrighted work. Patents are exclusive to inventions, granting property rights to the patent holder. The holder automatically excludes others from reproducing, selling, or using the invention without permission. Trademarks are phrases, symbols, or designs that identify with a brand or company. Owners of a trademark can enforce against the use or reproduction of the phrase or symbol. Trade Secrets are unique in the sense that they are not known to the public. A trade secret is a process, formula, or practice that gives a company a competitive advantage over its competition.

Tips:

Create and use documentation to have a record of contracts and agreements used during the company’s early stages. This will prevent problems with original members that may have helped form ideas in your company. Also keep records of other important dates or milestones in your company to defend yourself in the case of infringement accusations.

Enabling Public Disclosure means that you have shared enough information about your product or service that others within your industry can copy the product. Information can be released in a tech show or exhibition. According to Mary Juetten of Forbes, it is a legal term that many startup leaders learn a little too late. You can no longer patent a product or invention one year after an EPD release.

Confidentiality Agreements are meant to protect your IP. According to Startup Runner, all involved parties should sign a mutual non disclosure agreement before any information on the IP is disclosed. In the case that the IP was discussed without such an agreement, make a detailed list of what was disclosed so that an attorney may assist you in IP protection.

Be sure to check out my twitter @dpeinsipp for more corporate law news and information. Thanks for reading!

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

What Jobs can Entry-Level Lawyers Find in the Tech Industry?

The demand for lawyers is always present.

However the job market has been rough for entry-level lawyers in recent years.

The market for lawyers seems saturated in a lot of industries; that is, with the exception of tech. The tech industry is booming, and continues to showcase itself as an ever-growing industry on a global level.

With the inception of new technologies comes an array of legal issues and new regulations. In these burgeoning new tech industries, little precedent or common law exists for lawyers to pull from. Tech lawyers are therefore needed to navigate through the unchartered waters of these new fields.

If you’re considering getting your JD, consider a focus in tech law. So what kind of jobs in which tech fields are available? Check out some of these fields if you’re looking to jump into the legal tech world…

The tech world continues to compound on itself at an incredibly rapid pace. Sanjena Sathian of Ozy comments on the phenomenon, mentioning how the law simply can’t keep up with the inception of many of these new technologies. Because of this, lawyers and future attorneys dedicating themselves to the tech industry will surely be sought after by tech firms.

“Those who have a few areas down pat will be in high demand,” cited Sathian of Ozy.

For example, cases revolving around privacy issues within the realm of the internet will most certainly be significant.

Other fields such as employment law for contract-work platforms like Uber, TaskRabbit, and Instacart among others will bring about an array of legal issues as well. According to Eric Sherman of Fortune, “gig jobs” like these often seem too good to be true for a lot of contractors, especially when many of them are receiving neither workplace protections, nor minimum wage.

Youtube and various other streaming services must face a collection of copyright hurdles that music companies like Spotify are still struggling to deal with. “International Law” is already broad and complex, but becomes even more so online. Companies that distribute products and services across national lines in just the click of a mouse become global enterprises in seconds. U.S. courts have ruled with older international law standards, ruling that U.S. companies cannot possibly be held responsible for every different law in every different country, evident in the turn of the century case LICRA v. Yahoo.

In some cases, attorneys operating in the infant phases of a startup’s life could potentially receive major compensations for their early endeavors. In fact, an attorney may very well shape the way in which the new company is structured, and how bold its business model can be. For a successful startup, an in-house expert holds a great deal of weight within the company’s administration. However, startups can often be risky enterprises, so consider your options carefully before running into startup life and culture.

If you liked this post and would like to read more on legal tech news and information, check out my twitter @dpeinsipp for more. Thanks for reading!

Legal Industry Sees New Opportunities Arise with Emerging FinTech Industry

Legal experts are optimistic about the new career pathways that FinTech, or the financial technology industry, is paving for junior lawyers.

From mobile banking, to virtual reality technology, to even digitized currencies like bitcoin, the field is offloading an array of complex questions onto the legal industry.

In a conference held in London, some topFinTech and legal experts shared insights on the bright future of junior lawyers in the increasingly popular field.

According to LegalCheek.com, the broad conclusion of the conference is that new legal opportunities will arrive from developments in theFinTech industry for the next generation of corporate lawyers.

The regulatory structure of the financial world is growing as new technologies begin to take a more prominent role in the daily activities of businesses across the country. As new legal framework forms alongside the rise of new technologies,FinTech companies gain the necessary confidence to continue innovating.

Instead of hindering business, the legal world organizes it, guiding it through avenues that will provide structure and confidence for developing industries. For example, developing technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality are fairly unexplored via legal outlets. Part of the reason is due to the infancy of such technologies. However, once these technologies reach commercial platforms and mainstream popularity, regulations will need to be in place. This legal framework can range from protecting intellectual property, regulating business practices, and even managing copyrights.

With the advent of drones, an array of new complex legal issues continues to rise. As individuals, firms, and governments test their boundaries with drones, limits will be put into place – limits on whether drones are allowed to fly over urban downtown areas, near airports, and even by public forums have already been causing controversy.

Inconsistencies between federal and local laws will surely bring about an array of legal battles between individuals and governments. Surely, more lawyers who understand FinTech will be needed to meet the future high demands of this unchartered territory.

At the moment, there is a general shortage of lawyers who understand both corporate finance and technology laws. The field is currently booming, and will inevitably explode in the coming years once many of these technologies are introduced into the mainstream. Victoria Birch of Norton Rose Fullbright stressed the importance of a formal education in the subject when she asserted that junior lawyers must be prepared to “speak the same language” as clients, and must therefore understand the field better than anyone else. Some experts are even calling for a cross-mixing of law and computer science in the academic levels. Either way, the demands for smart, tech savvy lawyers will only rise as we reach a new age of technological innovation.

If you liked this post, and would like to read more on law or financial news, check out my Twitter @dpeinsipp. Thanks for reading!

Legal Battles Ensue over iPhone Encryption Case

With the San Bernardino shootings still fresh in everyone’s mind, the recent court controversy between Apple Inc. and U.S. law enforcement is becoming quite the legal showdown. In efforts to find possible leads, links, and further evidence in connection with the San Bernardino shooters, the FBI has turned its focus on an iPhone belonging to the husband and wife in question.

But, to no avail. Apple implants security features that lock individuals from accessing a phone after too many failed password input attempts. The FBI has attempted to circumvent Apple’s security features through the U.S. court system. However Apple is staunchly fighting the court order, opening a Pandora’s Box of complex legal battles between federal authorities, and the tech giant.

Using a 227 year-old statute signed by President George Washington himself, a federal judge has ordered Apple to break the encryption code that locks an iPhone belonging to one of two shooters that killed fourteen people in San Bernardino on December 2015. The courts have mandated that Apple create a new IOS operating system that would allow a “back door” of sorts to iPhones and their security safeguards.

Apple, committed to its company policy of prioritizing customer privacy, refuses any and all mandates that may compromise customer privacy. The 227 year old statute in dispute is the All Writs Act of 1789. According to Danny Lewis of the Smithsonian, the law “gives federal judges the power to issue orders to compel people to do things within the limits of the law.”

Originally part of the Judiciary Act of 1789, the law is designed to grant broad power to federal judges attempting to issue court orders “agreeable to the usages and principles of law.” The FBI argues that Apple’s cooperation in the matter will open a new outlet for possible evidence affecting the case. Such evidence can even help prevent further attacks if connected individuals and organizations are apprehended thanks to the new evidence.

Apple however argues that the court order can unveil a new and dangerous precedent violating privacy rights for individuals in this country. Theodore J. Boutrous, Apple’s lawyer spearheading the case, says the mandate is in direct violation of First Amendment Rights. “The government here is trying to use this statute from 1789 in a way that it has never been used before. They are seeking a court order to compel Apple to write new software, to compel speech,” quoted the LA Times.

Additionally, the new court order will also compromise individuals by creating a “backdoor” access to other devices and their motherboards, leaving customers prey to hackers and other digital predators. In other words, the FBI as well as other groups, will have future access to data that was once privately secured.

Joseph Menn and Julia Love of Reuters write that this legal battle could push for the development of government-proof devices. Barriers engineered to safeguard against future government intrusion are imminent, setting the stage for further animosity between the federal government and tech companies. Whether the FBI wins its case or not, law enforcement is sure to face future hurdles from tech industry giants.

If you liked this post and would like to read more on legal news and info, check out my Twitter @dpeinsipp. Thanks for reading!

California Gas Leak: Regulations Approved

los angeles david peinsipp

On Saturday, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) in California voted to demand from the utility culpable for a burst subterranean pipeline somewhere around Los Angeles for an independent study on health side effects of an enormous methane leak from the location.

The gas leak is located in a storage field in Aliso Canyon and began on October 23rd, 2015. At this time it ranks as the most severe leak in California history.

These smelly methane fumes got many, many people sick and caused the interim relocation of thousands of residents of the Aliso Canyon area up in northern Los Angeles.

The air quality regulators that voted on Saturday came just short of opting to order the utility to remove more gas from the disabled field under orders from state officials.

For reference, the procedure of gas extraction is intended to relieve pressure on the damaged wellhead and steady the leak.

The facility affected is owned by Southern California Gas Co (SoCalGas) who informed the AQMD that SoCalGas would adhere to the AQMD requirements as long as they do not conflict with the previous requests from the state Public Utilities Commission.

David Holtzman, a member of the AQMD board that voted on Saturday stated, “We may decide in the future to take additional steps but that’s no reason not to take these steps now.”

Los Angeles County health officials reported that studies of this nature of incident have resulted in only short-term health effects from breathing in the gas odorant. However, residents of the Aliso Canyon area have reported complaints of headaches and respiratory irritation. Health officials agree that continued health monitoring is necessary.

While it seems that steps are being taken to amend the situation, residents of the affected area are still extremely upset, demanding that the entire facility be shut down all together.

What Is Corporate Law?

corporate law david peinsipp

Corporate Law refers to law that involves matters of corporate business, specifically, the merging of companies, rights of directors and shareholders, secretarial issues,  board meetings, and the public listing and delisting of companies and entities.

Clients range from government organizations, businesses of every size and caliber, privately owned companies, investment banks, as well as multinational corporations.

Corporate lawyers accumulate portfolios chock-full of M&As (mergers and acquisitions), restructuring of entities and companies of a corporate nature, and the termination of unprofitable ventures.

Additionally, corporate lawyers often help their clients get listed on stock exchanges across the globe, as well as, obtain financing from private equity players and venture capitalists.

To be a successful corporate lawyer, one must have extensive knowledge of business law, current issues and trends within the corporate law field, and familiarity with legislative and regulatory changes.

There are many facets of business law, but an extensive knowledge of all of these facets is beneficial for a lawyer, as well as for their clients. Businesses that are dealing with outside operations or crossing into other jurisdictions and looking to invest, a knowledge of multiple sectors of business law is paramount.

A corporate lawyer must also be a very sharp, innovative individual who has strong communication and negotiation skills. Without these attributes, they simply do not make a successful corporate lawyer.

Analytical skills and attention to detail also sets a corporate lawyer apart from the rest, while also being able to work in a team and call upon other resources when necessary is a strength of any thriving lawyer, regardless of their field of specialty.

Corporate law is a lucrative endeavor to pursue but should not be pursued without care and great consideration. It is an extremely competitive and intense field, especially when it comes to responsibility and work load hours.

Introduction to Intellectual Property Law

Have you ever been interested in intellectual property law? Check out this great CrashCourse production by Stan Muller.

So, what is intellectual property, and why are we teaching it? Well, intellectual property is about ideas and their ownership, and it’s basically about the rights of creators to make money from their work. Intellectual property is so pervasive in today’s world, we thought you ought to know a little bit about it. We’re going to discuss the three major elements of IP: Copyright, Patents, and Trademarks

UK Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015

parliament

The Small Business, Enterprise, and Employment Act of 2015 passed earlier this year presented a way to make the United Kingdom a more attractive place to start, finance, and grow small businesses. The act aims to minimize obstacles that many small businesses face in their infancy, improving and better defining access to finance, insolvency, and corporate transparency.

The act is expected to phase in over a 12 month span from March 2015 to March 2016, and while many anticipate this new legislation to primarily affect small entities, two key components extend its reach to all corporations.

One significant change is the abolition of bearer shares. Bearer shares are unregistered shares that are held by whomever physically holds the share warrant. Because of this, shares are often held anonymously; however, in accordance with the new act, bearer share holders have until February 26, 2016 to surrender their shares to the company in exchange for registered ones. This affects all levels of business regardless of size. In an effort to improve corporate transparency, companies are required to identify and register people with more than 25% of the company’s shares or voting rights to Companies House annually starting in April 2016.

The second provision affecting large and small businesses alike covers the application of directors’ duties to include shadow directors. In the past, general statutory duties that applied to directors were limited in regards to shadow directors. By definition, a shadow director is “a person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors of a company are accustomed to act. Under this definition, it is possible that a director, or the whole board, of a holding company, and the holding company itself, could be treated as a shadow director of a subsidiary” (Brefi Group). As of March of this year, the general duties of a director will apply to shadow directors as well.

Regardless of country of origin, sweeping changes such as these must be understood and acknowledged in order to compare local legislation with global trends. There is always something to learn!

Google & Microsoft Patent Reconciliation

Definition: A patent – a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention.
Or
Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries

Google-Microsoft

Recently, patents have been the center of discussion in the tech and business sectors as companies have used patents to secure monopoly rights to various inventions. The United State Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) upholds the Patent Act (35 U.S. Code) to determine which patents are approved and issued to whom.

If you aren’t familiar, even big name companies like Microsoft and Google are consistently involved in patent infringement wars. A few days ago, Microsoft and Google announced they would drop their patent disputes. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an order settling royalty rates for Motorola’s video-coding and WLAN patents. Moreover, a jury trial effectively settled a patent dispute between Microsoft and Motorola in favor of the former, awarding the company $14.5 million in damages. Although Google sold the Motorola brand to Lenovo last year, Google inherited many pre-existing patent disputes when it bought the company in 2012.

Shortly after the Motorola settlement, Microsoft and Google agreed to dismiss all pending infringement complaints between the two. They have instead agreed to collaborate on numerous patent matters and intend to continue a working relationship for the benefit of their customers. Over the past few years, disagreements regarding the use of standard patents to disrupt competition has been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission. Standard-essential patents are those which define standards and are understood to be licensed under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The Motorola company was accused of breaching its FRAND agreement. In 2013, Google also agreed to grant competitive access on FRAND terms.