If you have a great business idea, then the safest way to build and protect your brand is to take the right legal steps. Not everyone does this, and often entrepreneurs with potentially profitable ideas wind up in intellectual property litigation, the cost of which can cut deeply into the value of a business.
According to a 2014 survey, 61 percent of consumers used Internet streaming each week to access movies, TV shows and other content. That percentage represents a 17 percent increase from the year before.
Most business owners, when they realize they have a dispute with another company, don't immediately say to themselves, "We need to take this to court; we need to litigate." For one thing, litigation can be a costly and time-consuming distraction from running a business. In many cases, with the right proactive legal planning, business owners can avoid the expense of going to court.
Investigating an intellectual property dispute may involve looking into the previous encounters and business dealings, if any, between the parties involved in the dispute.
We've discussed before how entrepreneurs have enjoyed success in taking patented technology from university research labs to the marketplace. Research departments have begun allowing potential buyers exclusive access to technology so buyers can weigh the risks before purchasing. You can read more about this matter in our previous post, "Protecting intellectual property: The university connection."
Some states enforce non-compete agreements, whereby employees agree not to compete with their employer for a period of time or share trade secrets after leaving the company. California is not a state that enforces such agreements, but New York is.
If you're an entrepreneur in California, then you're undoubtedly aware of the abundance of potentially profitable technology being developed throughout the state. Much of the research that leads to ground-breaking technology happens at universities, and many tech startups find great success in transferring patented technology from the university to the marketplace.
"Non-practicing entity" and "licensing entity" are the terms a federal judge in San Jose allowed Apple Inc. to use in reference to its adversary in a recent patent-infringement trial. The list of terms Apple was prohibited from using is longer:
A non-practicing entity or patent assertion entity -- pejoratively referred to as a patent troll -- is an individual or company that brings a patent infringement claim in an effort to collect licensing fees in connection with a product or service not actually manufactured or provided by the non-practicing entity. A non-practicing entity (NPE) could also be a research laboratory, inventor or development company that provides patents to licensees prior to a product being manufactured.
Protecting intellectual property is crucial to giving businesses the competitive edge they need to thrive. Whether you intend to enforce or defend against a claim of patent or trademark infringement, it is important have on your side a legal team with experience in intellectual property law.