Jake Brown Husch Blackwell Meghan Brennan Husch BlackwellWorking with startups recently inspired two Husch Blackwell attorneys to develop an innovation solution of their own. In 2018, Husch Blackwell hosted its first firmwide Legal Innovation Challenge. Approximately 20 teams submitted ideas and went through a rigorous selection process.

Associates Meghan Brennan and Jake Brown work with a variety of clients, including startups. When they came together for Husch Blackwell’s Legal Innovation Challenge, they found a mutual interest in streamlining the initial intake process for startup clients. Together they envisioned a diagnostic tool to assess the legal needs of growing companies. Clients can complete a quick 10-minute questionnaire that will help the attorney develop a road map for company growth and future legal needs.
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Fresh off the heels enacting the California Consumer Privacy Act, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed the country’s first law governing the security of Internet of Things or connected devices. The bill, SB 327, is entitled “Security of Connected Devices.”

Beginning on January 1, 2020, all manufacturers of connected devices will be required to equip the device with reasonable security features to protect against the unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure of information that is collected or transmitted by the device.
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An important aspect of developing any intellectual property strategy and portfolio is deciding which method of intellectual property protection to pursue based on the advantages and disadvantages of each method. Plants may be protected through utility patents, certificates under the Plant Variety Protection Act (“PVPA”), and plant patents. Each of these methods has their own requirements with various levels of stringency for obtaining a utility patent, certificate, or plant patent, as well as different levels of protection, as will be discussed below.

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Many commentators have noted recently that the near-monopoly Silicon Valley has enjoyed in technology startups is beginning to erode. Last month, The Economist magazine dubbed the trend a “techsodus” from the Bay Area and stated that “[Silicon] Valley’s influence is peaking.”

Much of the venture capital investment aimed at technology startups is still raised in and flows into California, but increasingly, when startups look to scale their business models, they are doing it elsewhere, due to the increasingly high costs associated with the Bay Area in terms of talent, real estate, and taxes. This shift in investment will greatly benefit regions that have ample incentives in place to attract startups, areas like greater Kansas City and other cities throughout the Heartland.


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Every company, but especially startups, looks for a competitive edge to provide an advantage over other companies. Intellectual property (“IP”) rights and the strategy of how to leverage them may separate a startup from other companies.

Because IP can be an essential part of a business and of significant interest to potential investors, startups often enthusiastically disclose their inventions, technology, and other IP when pitching to potential investors or at public events. However, pitching to potential investors or publicly presenting before protecting the IP can have devastating consequences for companies.

We provide below a few of the reasons why companies should consider protecting their IP before disclosing it to the public.


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globe charts graphsCongratulations! You have developed or launched an innovative new product or service, and your business dreams are becoming a reality. It’s all very exciting.  One thing you may not have considered much, however, is whether your innovations or brand are susceptible to infringement in the international context. Will competitors try to make a knock-off product or steal your trade secrets? Are foreign companies going to ship infringing articles to the U.S. market? Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is key. Here are some fundamental suggestions to thwart such threats to your growing business.
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Let’s say that your next idea—which could be the next big idea—involves a web-based collection, compilation, or some presentation of a sliver of “big data” so pioneering, maybe even disruptive, that customers and investors will come chomping at the bit to get their hands on it. Your idea, undoubtedly, has an e-commerce angle, such as a proprietary feature complete with pricing information indexed for your customers’ convenience. A meaningful portion of your solution’s value will likely stem from this carefully selected catalog of prices. So, how do you protect it?

There are several mechanisms of protection at your disposable—some technical and others legal, for example. Determining the specific type and degree of security measures that you will deploy to defend against the myriad of potential threats is a business decision, which must be made early and revisited often.  However, one modern technical phenomenon, data scraping, presents a particularly tricky business dilemma warranting a deeper level of analysis.


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Husch Blackwell’s Jeff Simon, Nathan Oleen and Ed Wilson have been named to the 2018 Kansas City Techweek 100. Techweek is an annual event bringing together entrepreneurs, visionaries, and thought leaders in an effort to build a better world through tech entrepreneurship. During Techweek Kansas City, national industry leaders speaking on a variety

trademarkChoosing a common or trendy name for your startup opens your company to risk. You might like the name “Company XYZ,” and you might think you’re the “Company XYZ” of your field, but “Company XYZ” might disagree with you. If you are looking to choose a brand or product name, you need to think about trademarks earlier than you think.

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