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

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

trademarkAccording to BrandFinance’s annual report on the world’s most valuable brands, the GOOGLE trademark is the most valuable brand in the world; worth over $100,000 million. So how is it that the world’s most valuable brand is the subject of a claim that it has become generic and is no longer protectable?

When a trademark owner develops a product category that is new to the marketplace, its success in branding can sometimes be its demise if the brand loses its significance as a trademark and becomes the generic name for the product itself. Think aspirin, escalator, laundromat, and kerosene.

While all of us should be so lucky to develop a brand that becomes so well-known it becomes vulnerable to a trip to the trademark graveyard, this case is a good reminder to all brand owners to have processes in place to avoid such a finding.

Continue Reading Google No Longer Protectable as a Trademark????

PatentIntellectual property (IP) is a key component of almost every startup’s business. It can distinguish a startup from its competition, attract potential investors, and provide a foundation for future success. Because IP can be such an important part of a company, startups are often eager to disclose their innovations, technology and other IP when pitching their company to investors or when presenting to the public at events such as #TechweekKC. However, a startup’s failure to properly protect its IP prior to making these outside disclosures can have unintended and sometimes devastating effects. Below are just a few reasons why startups should strongly consider their IP protection strategy before revealing their IP to the public.

Continue Reading Why Startups Need to Protect Their IP Before Disclosing Their Technology

globe AsiaOn Friday, August 18, 2017, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) formally initiated a Section 301 investigation into China’s intellectual property practices. The decision to open the investigation came from President Trump’s executive memorandum on August 14, 2017. For more information on the executive memorandum, please see our recent post. Continue Reading Section 301 Investigation against China Begins

 

flagsOn August 14, 2017, the Trump Administration moved toward self-initiating a case against China under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. That legal provision is broad, and  authorizes the President to “take all appropriate action, including retaliation, to obtain the removal of any act, policy, or practice of a foreign government that violates an international trade agreement or is unjustified, unreasonable, or discriminatory, and that burdens or restricts U.S. commerce.” Past administrations have been hesitant to use the broad powers of the act to impose additional tariffs and quotas due largely to the possibility of retaliation and the uncertain effect on US companies. The Trump Administration announced that it was using the broad statute to zero in on issues involving U.S. intellectual property rights, theft of such trade secrets, and pressures by China forcing U.S. companies to transfer technological knowledge before setting up operations in China.

Continue Reading Trump Administration Moves Forward on Case That Could Affect All Chinese Imports

Listen to the podcast

cohn_dantelscher_rudyThere are many advantages to filing an Inter Partes Review (IPR) versus pursuing federal court litigation as a defense. They cost less, there’s a lower burden of proof, and they’re more quickly resolved. But is an IPR always the right strategy? Listen as Husch Blackwell partners Rudy Telscher and Dan Cohn discuss the ins and outs of IPRs.

Product Liability Monitor

June 9, 2017
New Developments
Lung Cancer Without Asbestosis? The Effects of Smoking
By Mark Zellmer

In the medical and scientific literature, a finding of asbestosis is clear evidence that asbestos at least contributed to cause a person’s lung cancer. Many medical experts regard a finding of asbestosis as essential to any finding that asbestos caused any lung cancer. Other experts look for sufficient exposure to cause asbestosis, even if not evident from radiology or pathology. Still others take a position contrary to both views. [Continue Reading]

Defend Trade Secrets Act: Protecting Product Manufacturers and Sellers’ Confidential Information
By Dan Jaffe

Manufacturers and sellers of products can use the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) to effectively protect their trade secrets. The DTSA was enacted on May 11, 2016, extending the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. §§ 1831, et seq.). DTSA creates a federal civil cause of action for trade secret misappropriation whereby “[a]n owner of a trade secret that is misappropriated may bring a civil action . . . if the trade secret is related to a product or service used in or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce.” [Continue Reading]

Protective Orders in Product Cases
By Alan Hoffman

Discovery in product liability cases often involves inquiry into and disclosure of a firm’s confidential internal product information and documents not available to competitors or the public that it has a legitimate interest in protecting. Plaintiffs frequently serve broad brush stroke discovery in an effort to avoid in missing documents, information and witnesses that might prove relevant to prosecuting their claims. Defense counsel must act quickly and effectively to defend their clients’ valid interests, and seek to limit the scope of discovery as much as possible to avoid costly and burdensome discovery disruptive to their clients’ normal course of business. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice

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
May 2017

 

Patent InfringementIn a 7-1 decision Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that laches cannot be a defense in many patent infringement cases. The Federal Circuit previously ruled that laches, which bar suits after unreasonable delays, prevented SCA Hygiene Products AB from suing their competitor First Quality Baby Products LLC. Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling in SCA Hygiene Products v. First Quality Baby Products rejects this, noting that since Congress has imposed a six-year limitation on damages in patent cases, laches cannot be used to shorten that period. The ruling is available to read here.

For more information, read our legal alert or contact Rudy Telscher or Sam Digirolamo.