Uncategorized

Uncategorized / 01.09.2013

Even well-established companies can inadvertently trigger litigation through a violation of the law made through their Web practices, including how they employ website and social media strategies. “Companies don’t get into trouble just while constructing their initial website. The troubles evolve as companies, both big and small, and their products evolve,” says Bob Jefferis, an associate at Fay Sharpe LLP. Smart Business spoke with Jefferis about the legal issues companies can encounter when employing their Web strategy. What common legal problems do companies face when building a website? Companies get into trouble when they start copying images, articles or videos from the Web and putting them on their websites for information or to enhance the appearance. Shortly after, the company gets a cease and desist notice from the copyright holder requiring it to remove the infringing property and pay money. Even though a website may say something downloaded can be used for free, that’s...

Uncategorized / 01.08.2013

Business and product names, logos; unique product designs, shapes, utilities, functions; and other proprietary manufacturing methods can comprise a significant portion of a company’s potential revenue and intellectual property (IP). Protecting IP is a critical component of a sustainable business strategy. However, many companies don’t take the steps necessary to fully guard the ownership of these properties, leaving them vulnerable to encroaching competitors and/or missing out on sources of revenue generation. Smart Business spoke with Karl W. Hauber, an attorney at Fay Sharpe LLP, about identifying and protecting IP to avoid costly legal lapses. What do trademarks cover? Trademarks are used to protect business and product names (i.e. words and phrases), logos, and in some cases shapes and colors that are used to identify a company and its named products or services. There are common-law protections for using a name or symbol, but a mark not registered with the U.S. Trademark Office can cause issues....

Uncategorized / 01.07.2013

Patent trolls can be huge, single minded licensing companies. These nonpracticing entities purchase patents from small inventors who don’t have the desire or funding to create what they’ve patented and threaten potential infringers to get money through licensing fees or lawsuits. Business owners of small and midsize companies can be caught off guard when they receive the letter claiming their product infringes an existing patent, and often don’t know what to do. “Fighting the alleged infringement usually costs more than the licensing fee the troll is seeking,” says Christian Drago, a patent attorney at Fay Sharpe LLP. This can make a business owner feel trapped. However, he says patent trolls often cast a wide net, sending letters to companies that may not be infringing. That’s why it’s important to know how to respond. Smart Business spoke with Drago about how to deal with patent trolls. Who is most at risk of being the victim...

Uncategorized / 01.06.2013

Many companies train employees to enter phrases such as ‘confidential’ or ‘attorney work product’ and copy counsel when sending sensitive emails so that the information is protected under attorney-client privilege. In the event the company becomes embroiled in litigation, counsel would see such phrases and flag the messages as privileged, preventing them from inadvertently being produced to the other side during discovery. However, while it’s a good idea to include such phrases in messages, it’s not always enough in the court’s eyes to designate it as privileged. Also, a computer’s auto-save feature may have saved versions of an email that didn’t include such phrases, leaving them unprotected. Both of these issues arose during Oracle America, Inc. v. Google, Inc. “For each email being composed, Google’s system was saving multiple drafts of it. That’s probably something that you wouldn’t want to do,” says Jude A. Fry, a partner with Fay Sharpe LLP. “Then...

Uncategorized / 01.05.2013

Competitive intelligence aims to provide as much insight as possible into the trends of an industry and into the strengths, weaknesses and current activities of direct competitors. Such programs can be as simple as monitoring the intellectual property (IP) filings within the U.S. of a single competitor, or as sophisticated as gathering and analyzing IP information for many competitors in different countries. Either way, there is business value in establishing and maintaining a competitive intelligence program to understand how competitors are behaving through their IP habits. Smart Business spoke with Matthew P. Dugan, a partner at Fay Sharpe LLP, about competitive intelligence programs. What is competitive intelligence? The term refers to a program to develop and maintain a body of data and information that can be organized and analyzed to provide a better understanding of one or more aspects of a company’s business environment. The analysis can provide a broad, high-level view of...