In the wake of the #MeToo Movement, New York, California and a number of other jurisdictions, both local and state, have passed new laws aimed at combatting sexual harassment in the workplace. The New York laws require written sexual harassment prevention policy, assurance that all current and new employees, and even applicants for employment, receive a copy of the policy, and mandate annual sexual harassment training for all employees. In addition, New York law now provides that employers can be liable for sexual harassment of nonemployees in the workplace, such as contractors, vendors and subcontractors. Recent legislation prohibits employers from using mandatory arbitration provisions in employment contracts or nondisclosure agreements except when this is the victim preference. Let me suggest that there are some important lessons to be learned from these laws. Continue Reading Lessons From Changes to New York State’s Sexual Harassment Laws

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

Labor People SilhouettesImagine 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?

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

spring sunriseIn Part 1 of this blog, I discussed the question of data ownership and data protection obligations in precision agriculture.  More specifically, I noted that all parties along the field to fork chain should give careful consideration to whether farm data likely will be generated at some point in the process and, if so, who is entitled to own or control the data and what data protection obligations exist as a result.  In Part 2, I look at the various types of disputes that can arise if parties fail to reach agreement on key issues before starting work.  Once agreement is reached, these points then need to be documented in a well-drafted contract.  The range of potential disputes that could break out if good contracting is not employed should convince anyone in business in this area to have well-prepared, thorough written agreements in place to govern precision ag-related business dealings.

Continue Reading Agree to Agree: Data Ownership, Protection and Precision Ag (Part 2)

Boardroom PeopleA startup’s failure to properly protect its intellectual property (IP) prior to presenting its pitch deck or making other outside disclosures (like at @TechweekKC) can sometimes have unintentionally devastating effects.  This is particularly true for IP rights that are not afforded common law protection.
While the experience of pitching to angel investors and venture capitalists can be exhilarating, below are four reasons why startups should take a step back and protect their IP prior to pulling the curtain open.

Continue Reading Why Startups Should Protect IP Before Making Pitches and Presentations

Funding is always a problem when dealing with startup companies.  Startup companies typically have to balance “cash available” with expenditures related to intellectual property (IP).  Spending and allocating funds available for both research and development and IP is likewise a problem.  Assuming that the startup company is an innovation-based company, that is, the assets of the company lie in its intellectual property, such a startup company needs to develop the appropriate culture within its organization which focuses on IP  and then develop an IP strategy which takes into account cash available for both R&D and IP.  Continue Reading Intellectual Property Strategies for Start-up Companies