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

startup moneyThe new business idea is coming together, the circle of friends and advisors is tightening and it’s time to pull the proverbial trigger on this thing. The questions arise, “who’s in?” “who’s out?” and “how do we set this up?” During the initial startup phase, it is important to keep key players involved, and maintain the flexibility to let them go if things aren’t working out.  Most startups don’t have the cash to pay salaries high enough to keep people involved, so a mix of compensation options is often on the table.  A common solution is restricted stock (or restricted units in the LLC context), which is equity that is subject to certain contractual restrictions on its ownership, typically including:
Continue Reading Are You In or Out: Equity Incentives for Emerging Companies

Money puzzleThere are many ways to raise capital for your startup… and many potential pitfalls. While the initial conversation may center on “how much do we need?”, startup companies should also take some time to discuss “how do we structure this financing?”. Your startup may have short-term or long-term needs, may desire long-term investment and involvement from VC investors, may or may not know the valuation of the company, etc. The answers to these types of questions may factor in to choosing which capital-raising method works best for you and your company.

Before you can determine what approach is right for you, it’s helpful to figure out what the different options are and how they work. The list below contains a brief description of the most common methods by which a company can raise capital.
Continue Reading Show Me the Money: Financing Options for Startups

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

moneyFor startups looking to raise capital, crowdfunding looks to be a modern solution to capital-raising concerns. In 2015, the SEC issued a rule on crowdfunding (“Regulation Crowdfunding”), which exempts companies from the lengthy registration requirements necessary when offering a sale of securities, including a sale of the company’s equity to the public. Regulation Crowdfunding allows unaccredited investors to invest in companies and allows such companies to raise up to $1,070,000 in a 12- month period through a registered portal.

Here are a few of the risks startups should consider when deciding if crowdfunding is the right option to grow your business:
Continue Reading Regulation Crowdfunding: Considerations Before Crowdfunding Your Startup

Data computerData security breaches are impacting long-standing and start-up corporations, as well as public and private entities. No one is immune from these threats and understanding the prevalence is the first step in best preventing this from impacting your organization.

Continue Reading Gone Phishing: Data Security Breaches Affect Start-Ups and School Districts Alike

Anthony GriceAnthony Grice, a Labor & Employment associate in the firm’s Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation group, was honored by the National Bar Association (NBA) with the “40 Under 40 Best Advocate” award at a gala July 18, 2016 in St. Louis.

The NBA 40 Under 40 awards recognize lawyers under age 40 who exemplify a

Infrigement of patents

A tactic sometimes used by a well-established competitor against a startup is to accuse the startup of patent infringement. Unless the startup has deep pockets, it cannot really afford to defend a patent lawsuit – an expense that often runs into the millions of dollars if the case goes to trial. The startup is fragile at this juncture, can be terrified about the prospect of a patent suit, and sometimes negotiates a settlement where the competitor receives rights to use the startup’s technology at less than fair value.
Continue Reading Accused of Patent Infringement?

Many intellectual property disputes boil down to a few simple questions: who, what, and when?

business team ipad

  • Who was there when a new technology was conceived, when was it made into reality and what did each person contribute?
  • Exactly what features were present in the new technology when it was patented or licensed? What features were covered by the patent or license?
  • What was the exact date a key innovative feature was conceived?

Finding the answers to these questions can be surprisingly tricky, especially if the questions are asked months or years after the events occurred. Being able to find the answers (and being able to produce the documentation that supports those answers) can be critical in determining the outcome of disputes about patents, licenses, trade secrets, and other efforts to commercialize your new technology.

Continue Reading Protecting Your New Technology: Keeping Track of “Who,” “What,” and “When”