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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startup moneyPreviously, we outlined the most common exit strategies for startups and why it is important to think about those strategies early. One of the most common exit strategies is mergers and acquisitions, or “M&A”. For a startup, this means the sale of all or a part of your company to another person or entity. Although M&A can refer to a sale of assets or equity of a company, we will primarily focus here on equity.

There are two types of M&A transactions which are distinctly different exit strategies: strategic and financial. A strategic M&A transaction would be the sale of your startup to another larger company that is a competitor, within the same industry, or that would enjoy some synergy with its current business by acquiring your company. Think of Amazon acquiring Whole Foods, Facebook acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp, or Google acquiring YouTube and Waze.


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healthcare technology iotThe influence of the Internet of Things (IoT) will undoubtedly be transformational with a total potential economic impact estimated to be $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025. In the race into the IoT marketplace, there are both known and unknown legal hurdles that will affect those who offer of goods and services during the proliferation of the Internet of Things.

Some of the current and potential legal hurdles related to the IoT are well known, some are not, and some are the result of the intersection between the physical and virtual worlds, and the collision between two intersecting major drivers of innovation in IoT. On one hand, there are the established manufacturers of products and consumer goods whose expertise in developing, testing and manufacturing products puts them in an advantageous position. On the other hand, there are the technology companies who are used to developing software and whose expertise lies in software development, data collection, and data processing.
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websiteWe think it is relevant, even at this early stage at the commencement of 2018, so close to the 2017 holiday season, to note that the e-commerce explosion will continue in full force and will in the natural course of events bring transportation intermediaries more into the 3PL space in the delivery of fulfillment services. This is inevitable for those who intend to survive and grow. Larger multinationals are already substantially involved. However, it is especially important for small and mid-sized intermediaries to recognize that they must embrace digitalization in their industry even more so than they currently do in order to compete in this environment. The current view is that small and mid-sized intermediaries can survive and thrive in this new competitive zone.
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Startup MilwaukeeHusch Blackwell is proud to be a sponsor of Milwaukee Startup Week 2017. This series of events showcases the entrepreneurial spirit of Southeast Wisconsin and provides opportunities for startups to showcase their ideas, network with fellow innovators, and attend workshops with business, marketing, and legal experts. Husch Blackwell is sponsoring the Startup Showcase by Startup Milwaukee event on November 7, 2017. The showcase will provide local entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their products and services at the City Lights Brewing Company. Additionally, Husch Blackwell will have attorneys present on legal issues that affect startups during the Launch Conference on November 9, 2017, and other events throughout the week.

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emergency exit sign“What is your exit strategy?” This is one of the most common questions that startups or early stage companies are asked, but many entrepreneurs have not given their exit strategy much thought. An “exit strategy” does not refer so much to your departure from the company (although it might), but rather how an investor will make a return on his/her/its investment. Although it may seem counterintuitive, giving some thought to your exit strategy up front can help you determine how to structure and operate your company, and many investors will want to know your ideal exit strategy before they invest. Keep in mind that these various strategies are also not mutually exclusive, and your company may experience one or more of these through its lifetime.
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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.


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