business towersLast week startups, entrepreneurs, and investors gathered from all over the Midwest in Kansas City to attend TechWeek KC. It was a prime example of how startup culture (and success!) is not limited to the coasts. The best panel, in my opinion, addressed the unique challenges that come with trying to close a large institutional client as a B2B startup, as well as processes and hacks to overcome these particular hurdles. What follows are the high points from that panel, as well as from my own experience in a B2B startup before transitioning to legal practice.

Challenge #1: No one gets fired for keeping the status quo. If you’re pitching your product or process to big boys like Amazon, Coca-Cola, etc., then let’s all assume that you truly believe it’s something of value to them. It’s amazing how, while you can perfectly see that your piece of innovation is going to change the game for them, your initial point of entry to the (prospective) institutional client often doesn’t seem nearly as excited. What you’re not seeing is the calculus going on in their head: what’s MY risk versus MY reward if I were to pitch this to my superior? Unfortunately for you, and your contact’s company, most people fear failure. They’d often rather not try than fail and face any potential negative consequences, especially embarrassment among coworkers.

Continue Reading Tips & Challenges to Closing Institutional Clients as a B2B Startup

International flagsThe Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) recently announced new sanctions on entities and individuals in Iran and Mexico. These sanctions were designated against individuals associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (“the Quds Force”), Iranian entities involved in hacking against American financial institutions in 2011 and 2012, and Mexican businesses and individuals associated with drug trafficking.

Continue Reading OFAC Announces New Sanctions on Iran and Mexico

airplaneOn October 27, 2016 a chartered Eastern Airlines Boeing 737 carrying Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence and 36 others skidded off a wet runway at LaGuardia Airport on a rainy fall night. The incident gained some notoriety, not only because the candidate was aboard, but also because the cockpit voice recorder transcript revealed that, after the incident,  the captain said, “My career just ended,” and the co-pilot said, “We should have went around.”

Continue Reading Air Safety: “My Career Just Ended!”

footballFootball season is upon us again and, with it, the excitement, the thrill of moving the ball forward for a touchdown, and the agony of defeat.  Ups and downs like this are what most start-ups experience. In football, it is important to protect the ball, to play good defense, and to avoid penalties.  Similarly, start-ups need to protect their assets, defend their intellectual property, and avoid incurring unnecessary costs in the future.  Following a few simple “rules” can help your start-up do all of these things.

RULE NO. 1: Stop the rushing game and avoid “illegal formation” penalties. Avoid quick-fix company formation tools you find on the internet.  I know, start-ups hate paying lawyers. (This isn’t unique to start-ups.) You may like your lawyer, enjoy talking to her, appreciate the insights and ideas but, in the end, I know you’d rather not pay me for all of that (why can’t we just be friends, you ask). Why do smart clients nonetheless retain lawyers (like me) knowing full well we have to be paid? Because smart clients, like a good coach, recognize that starting a business is a process and that investment on the front end can lead to considerable savings on the back end.

Continue Reading End Zone Decisions For Startups—Avoid Penalties And Maximize Asset Value

Social media cubesIt seems like we hear about a new data breach every week. Thanks to one of the most recent breaches, you could be only ten dollars away from getting in touch with your favorite A-list celebrity. Instagram — the Facebook-owned photo sharing company — was recently hacked due to a flaw in the program. Most recent reports indicate up to six million Instagram users’ email addresses and phone numbers may have been made public due to the data breach.

While the breach initially appeared to affect only celebrities and verified accounts, it has now been shown to affect a much wider range of accounts.

Continue Reading Instagram Hacked: What to Do to Protect Yourself in an Age of Data Breaches

Labor People SilhouettesImagine having a great product that is created and honed in your company for years potentially walk out of your office unrestricted. This same great product could end up in the headquarters of one of your competitors when there are no protections set in place. The fear of losing talent and ideas is a very real concern for all employers, including startups. Accordingly, there has been an increase in usage of non-compete agreements by employers in all sectors to combat the potential loss of valuable confidential information and trade secrets.

Continue Reading How Should Startups use Non-Compete Agreements?

legal documentThinking about telling everyone about your latest and greatest genius idea? You’d better think twice. Telling others about your idea or invention is a “public disclosure” and could bar you from getting a patent.

What’s a public disclosure?

A public disclosure can be as simple as describing the invention in print, using the invention in public, selling or offering to sell the invention, or making it otherwise available to the public. Common ways for individuals to make a public disclosure include: Continue Reading N-D-A? Y-E-S

data securityYou are an entrepreneur. You have great ideas. Those ideas are going to change your industry. In most cases, to accomplish those goals, you are going to need help from others. How do you protect your intellectual property and data? You need to focus on protecting those assets in the contracting process.

Most developing companies rely on third party service providers. As an entrepreneur, you will likely rely on hosting and cloud solutions. While we advise that you consider business considerations first, you should also consider legal issues relating to data privacy and security issues. You cannot achieve 100% security for your assets, but there are many ways to protect yourself. You should also consider obtaining cyber-liability insurance for your company and you should ask your service providers whether they have it.

Continue Reading Protecting Your Data and Intellectual Property

Product Liability Monitor

September 8, 2017
New Developments
The SELF DRIVE Act Motors Through Congress
By Mark Pratzel

On September 6, 2017 the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 3388, also known as the “Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act,” also known as the “SELF DRIVE Act.” The broad, bipartisan support for this legislation seems to reflect a rare Congressional consensus favoring national standards for autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. [Continue Reading]

FAA Preemption: The Continuing Sikkelee Saga
By Alan Hoffman

Last April, in a case closely followed by the aviation industry, the Third Circuit reversed a District Court order granting summary judgment to Textron Lycoming in a fatal Cessna 172 accident case on the ground that the plaintiffs’ design defect claims were preempted by the Federal Aviation Act. The Third Circuit held that the District Court erred in applying field preemption to plaintiff’s tort design defect claims, and remanded the case for further proceedings. [Continue Reading]

Standing as a Defense in Class Action Products Cases
By Jonathan Schmalfeld

It is a basic legal principle that, for party to have standing to bring a case, that party must have suffered (or in some instances be under the immediate threat to suffer) some actual harm. This is commonly referred to as the injury-in-fact requirement. This requirement is particularly important in cases where class certification is sought. [Continue Reading]

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Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]

Product Liability Monitor Archive
July 2017

 

websiteNew legislation passed by the House of Representatives on July 14 contains language that would allow the Pentagon and federal agencies to buy directly from commercially run online marketplaces such as Amazon, OfficeMax, Home Depot and other e-commerce retailers. The bill, H.R. 2810, is the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. It passed in the House 344 to 81. The Defense Acquisition Streamlining and Transparency Act, later merged into the Defense Authorization Act, was designed to reduce bureaucracy and costs for the government. The Washington Post recently stated that House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) sponsored the bill, saying ““Everybody understands what a difference Amazon has made…we’re trying to help DoD keep up with the changes in business practices with the goal of getting items faster, cheaper and keeping up with the changes in technology.”

Continue Reading House Passes Bill Allowing Government Agencies to Purchase Goods Online: A Major Development for E-Commerce