48 - November 2010
The Legal Chain Letter
Click here for a legal chain letter to send not only to the lawyer in your life but also to anyone who has to work with them.
COPY : 4 Practical things that small business owners should know about protecting and exploiting good ideas
The Intellectual Property (“IP”) advice that small business owners are prepared to pay me for is very specific and it reduces a vast and complex subject to the following four manageable areas:
Client lists: A traditional example of IP law is when an employee leaves to join the competition and takes the client list with them. This can end up in court in two days (or less) as the angry business owner needs to act quickly and in the heat of the moment money is no object.
Original Names: Business owners are more ready to fight over brand names that they have created. If they have not protected their trade names by registering trademarks and domain names they are ready to fight . For instance, someone else using an internet domain name similar to their business or product name. In fact, many small business partnerships dissolve in unhappiness due to lack of funds. In the absence of money sometimes the only thing to fight about is the name.
Plagiarism and copying generally: This can range from your article being copied and used under someone elses name to you copying a graphic or other content from someone elses website and using it in your newsletter or on your website. Business owners often want to know how much they can copy while at the same time wishing to protect their own creative efforts. Reputations can be threatened and lost. Most people would think this should be “P” for “Pirating : the outright copying and sale of your products under your brand name”. However, this tends not to happen to small business owners. They are more likely to have their ideas stolen by a larger enterprise. Although, disputes do arise when competitors ship in products which are very similar.
Your shared content: Joint venturers, consultants and employees may want to claim ownership or joint ownership of any creative work in which they were involved e.g. logos, training materials, software, internet content. Business owners ask how ownership can be secured?
Small business owners need to know these things to keep out of trouble as IP disputes can be very expensive. So be warned.
© Paul Brennan 2010. All rights reserved.
Paul Brennan is a business and property lawyer on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. "Deals and disputes".
Here is a mnemonic to help you remember the basics about copyright-
Mini franchise — You can create a work once and then license numerous people to use your copyright work. This is what Microsoft and the software industry do.
Automatic — No registration or form of words is required—it is protected as soon as you produce it.
Life — Generally, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years.
International — The powerful record, film and software lobbies have been successfully working with governments for years to have similar laws in each country to enhance copyright protection.
Cheap — Creating a copyright work costs nothing. No registration fees, no legal documents.
Expensive — Resolving even the most basic copyright issue can be extremely expensive so try to document your rights where you are dealing with copyright works which are important to you right now or may be in the future.
(c) Paul Brennan 2010. All rights reserved.
Extract from "Easy IP...How to use the law to protect your money-making ideas"
Queensland launch of Easy IP October 2010
Thank you to everyone who helped and attended the various events concerning the new book Easy IP.
Thank you to the sponsors of the events Sunshine Coast Daily, Kawana Weekly, Buderim Chronicle, Maroochy Weekly and Worrells and Mix FM.
The content of the Law & Disorder eZine is to give you legal basics and in some instances included unashamedly to try and make you laugh. In law it is sometimes difficult to work out what is serious and what is just for fun. Therefore, if you plan to do anything legal, rely on your own lawyer’s advice or instruct me to look at the particular facts of your case. Not only will I deny responsibility for the legal content but also for some of the jokes.