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.

Continue Reading Growth through Intellectual Property – Plant Protection through Utility Patents, Certificates, and Plant Patents

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.


Continue Reading Historic Shift in Venture Investment Could Benefit Kansas City and Region

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.


Continue Reading Think Twice Before You Speak – Intellectual Property and Public Disclosure

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.
Continue Reading International IP Issues for Startups

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.


Continue Reading Publicly Available Data: To Scrape or Not to Scrape?

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.

Continue Reading What’s In a Name?: Issues with Naming Your Product and Company

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.


Continue Reading M&A: Strategic vs. Financial Buyers

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.
Continue Reading Exit Strategies for Startups

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

Imagine 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?