Articles Tagged with intellectual property

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Palo Alto business owners are faced with heavy competition in the Silicon Valley, all of which are looking for the best practices, methods, and trade secrets. Some of a company’s most valuable assets can be found in your intellectual property. Each year intellectual property theft costs businesses billions of dollars. If you think your intellectual property might be at risk of being stolen or you can confirm it has been stolen, you need to act fast.

Different Types of Intellectual Property

In order to protect yourself from Intellectual Property theft, a business owner must first define what they need to protect. For example, if the business owners want to secure a method of a certain process, a formula specific to their company, or even lock down a logo and name to fight off competition, there will be different applicable forms of legal protection to consider and utilize. There are several forms of protection, some of them being:

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In the tech-rich culture of San Jose, protection of intellectual property and consumer data is a constant concern for business owners. How can owners invoke legal protection for these assets in order to protect their legal interests and reassure customers that their data is secure? The answer depends upon the different types of liability a business can face when consumer data is compromised.

Contractual Liability

Contractual liability arises when one (or more) parties in a contract fail to fulfill their responsibilities agreed upon in the contract. Many technology companies have contracts with consumers. These are often contained in the Terms of Service issued to users of mobile apps or software. Some can be more detailed – especially when the company is hired to perform a specific service to the customer. For example, when a company provides customers with secure data storage based on a private server or the cloud, the Terms of Service are typically very inclusive. If such consumer data is compromised, a technology company can face contractual liability for failing to provide the secure data storage offered by the terms of the contract.

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California is one of the most innovative and creative job markets in the world. Every year, advances in a wide variety of industries reach consumers as a direct result of work done by California employees. Fashion, entertainment, technology – these are just a few of the many industries which develop cutting-edge consumer goods in California. Employers can protect their valuable intellectual property in this creative and fast-paced market by making sure to have their employees sign a non-disclosure agreement. With strategic employment agreements, such as non-disclosure agreements, employers can create legally enforceable protections for their products, designs, developments, and other intellectual property.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is a broad term which applies to creations of the mind. It can apply to artistic works, such a manuscripts or songs. It can apply to branding, such as logos, colors, and package designs. It can also apply to designs for inventions and consumer goods. All of these types of intellectual property have value, which is owned by an employer who hired a worker to create them. In some cases, this intellectual property can be a highly valuable asset. Employers should seek out an experienced California Employment Attorney to help ensure they have the correct strategic employment agreements to take precautions to protect their intellectual property.

Previously on this blog, we discussed two important matters relating to the formation of the Terms of Use on your business’s website: avoiding using boilerplate language in favor of terms tailored to your specific business and having a privacy policy regarding the collection of customer information. The following are two more important things to consider during the process of drafting and posting your website’s Terms of Use.

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Have Clear Sale Conditions

Many companies use their website to conduct online sales. No matter what your product is or the size of your operation, failing to have clear conditions of sales on your Terms of Use can result in disputes and even legal claims. The terms of a sale should be in clear language that the customer can read and agree to prior to making a purchase. Some terms to address in this part of your Terms of Use include the following:

Applying for a patent can be complex and time-consuming. People who aren’t familiar with the process can run into hurdles that lead to delays and higher costs.

If you’re thinking about applying for a patent, here are a few important questions to consider. Keep in mind, this is a high-level overview and shouldn’t be construed as legal advice.  If you are looking for advice, please call us at 408-441-7500 today.

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Does my product or idea qualify for a patent?

The exchange of cash for payment for a goods or services is rare these days. We have certainly become a digital society. Business make advances daily to make transactions more efficient and convenient. However, businesses engaging in e-commerce must not compromise security for expediency. Additionally, businesses store infinite amounts of personal data about their customers. These businesses, such as health care providers and health insurance companies, not only must safeguard their electronic transactions but must also secure sensitive information and proactively combat data breaches. Failure to do so can lead to a huge economic loss for the customers and the company. The savvy business attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP advise businesses on the best practices to prevent data breaches and counsel them on the necessary steps to take if such an unfortunate event occurs.

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In California, people have a constitutional right to the safety and integrity of their personal information. California’s information security act defines personal information as any information that could identify or describe a person. Personal information is also an individual’s name, address, social security number, license number, medical information, and the like. A business in possession of such information must take reasonable steps to prevent disclosure of private information. California law obligates businesses to implement security measures reasonably designed to protect the integrity of the private information. Every business entity, from a sole proprietorship to a multi-national corporation is subject to the information security act.

California law broadly defines “data breach.” Data breach includes any “unauthorized acquisition of computerized data that compromises the security, confidentiality, or integrity of personal information maintained by the person or business.” The information may be used in good faith for the benefit of the person whose information is disclosed, provided that such disclosure is authorized.

As an innovator or entrepreneur, you may launch a business for a variety of reasons. At first, a primary reason is to develop a profitable product or technology you believe will provide a nice return.  But, creating the next popular app or useable technology could lead to a life-changing acquisition of your business at a premium valuation.  At the same time, if your business is not performing as you had hoped, selling may be the best option for you. These are only a few reasons why you may want to sell your business.

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It is important that businesses considering a sale of their company obtain the guidance of legal counsel. A Silicon Valley business attorney will be able to work with owners to identify and avoid potential legal issues that may arise with the potential sale of the business.  These pitfalls could include, for example, issues with due diligence, fiduciary duty and duty of care, voting requirements, corporate compliance, shareholder approval, intellectual property, and lien holder negotiation.  After all, once a decision is made to sell the business, the goal is not only to get a good offer but to be able to actually get the deal done.

Owners considering a sale of their business should consider the following four tips:

An important step in the business acquisition process is determining the true value of the business to ensure you are paying an appropriate price. Valuation of a business can be complicated and can depend on the type of company in question, your goals, and many other factors. While this process may seem daunting, an experienced business lawyer can help to identify steps to take and help you decide whether a price is right. The following are some of the issues to consider when evaluating the price of an acquisition.

Examine the Current State of the Business

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There are many aspects of a business that should be closely examined before an offer is made, including, but not limited to:

Hiring and retaining employees is critical to success in business. While successfully managing a workforce has many components to it, understanding the basic components of the employment relationship not only protects the company when hiring, but also helps to set the expectations for new and existing employees. Clearly articulating expectations – such as whether the employee is hired at-will or for a fixed term, identifying the main responsibilities of the employee in a clearly articulated job description, informing the employee on the processes and procedures involved in the review process and protecting the company’s intellectual property assets – ensures the employer sets the stage for a successful employment relationship.

Should my Employee be At-will or Fixed Term?stretta di mano per lavorare in un ufficio

Employees can be hired as either an at-will or fixed-term employee. Unless otherwise specified in a written agreement, all employment in the State of California is “at will,” meaning either the employer or the employee can terminate the relationship at any time with or without cause. While at-will employment gives employees more flexibility in controlling how long they continue to work with a particular company, at-will employment also grants businesses with a greater control in terminating employees. Businesses can fire at-will employees at any time, with or without cause. (Obviously, this is limited to instances in which the business is not committing discrimination.) This is true because no contractual obligation exists between the business and its at-will employee.

Many business owners do not hire an experienced attorney for several reasons. Some believe they cannot afford it and others may believe there is no need for a lawyer unless a legal conflict arises. However, it is much more resource-effective (time, energy, and money) to have the guidance of a skilled business lawyer from the very start. Doing so can avoid costly litigation in the first place and will allow you to focus on your business operations and not on a legal case. The following are only some examples of how hiring a business attorney can help to avoid litigation.

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Business contracts – Businesses involve many different kinds of contracts, whether they are with fellow owners, suppliers, clients, or any other party. You may not recognize that a particular contract has unfair or adverse provisions that may leave your business vulnerable to losses or liability. Every single contract you consider signing should be carefully drafted, reviewed, and negotiated by a knowledgeable lawyer to protect your interests and avoid legal liability.

Compliance with business laws – California has a great number of laws that are relevant to businesses, and compliance is essential to avoid costly fines or legal conflicts. Such laws can regulate business formation, licenses, permits, zoning, taxes, employees, and many other issues. As a business owner, it may be challenging for you to identify all relevant laws and to ensure that you comply with them. An experienced attorney will know what steps you need to take to comply with necessary laws.