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Archive for June, 2008

Tips for buying intellectual property

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

From tiny companies to large corporations, millions of intellectual property contracts are signed every year. Major Hollywood films need music and commercials may choose to use preexisting logos or characters to sell their products. Most companies have large numbers of intellectual property lawyers on staff that do nothing other than research and create contracts that are beneficial to their side, but if you are a small time company or a individual that has decided to purchase the rights to use a preexisting piece of intellectual property, here are a few easy tips you should keep in mind that could help you in the future.

First off, you should use a qualified intellectual property lawyer each and every time you enter into an official intellectual property contract. As the Internet has allowed for instant access to a never ending stream of information, more and more people seem to believe that they can function as their own legal representation. From minor court cases to selling their own home, the DIY spirit is stronger than it has ever been before, but the world of intellectual property law is easily one of the most complex and complicated on earth, and when you take intellectual property law on a global scale into account as well, the whole thing can be utterly overwhelming. No matter how qualified you think you are, you should use an intellectual property lawyer each time, every time. After all, you are entering into a complicated, legally binding contract so it is always a good idea to have an expert on your side who is going to look out for your best interests.

As the world of media changes and evolves on a seemingly daily basis, many old intellectual property contract templates are woefully obsolete. When you meet with an intellectual property rights holder to negotiate or sign your contact, you need to be positive that the two of you have effectively communicated exactly how you are planning on using the property you are buying. If you intend on using your purchase mainly online or in other forms of digital media, make sure the property holder understands that and that your contract explicitly allows that. If your contact allows for digital media usage but forbids certain types of print media usage, make sure you follow the letter of the contract exactly. Lawsuits in this field can cost millions of dollars, so now is the time to clarify any questions you may have.

Just as with other kinds of contracts you may sign in your life, intellectual property contracts often have time limits. You may have the option of singing a new contract at that time or all rights regarding that piece of intellectual property may revert back to the original owner. Be sure that you have discontinued usage of any intellectual property you have purchased by the date specified or you could be opening yourself up to a lawsuit that could cost you a bundle.

Tips for protecting your intellectual property

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

It is a story as old as business. You come up with an idea that is sure to make you a million bucks, only you never quite get around to making it a reality and someone on the other side of the planet comes up with the same idea a year later and you are left out in the cold. Such incidents are commonplace these days. The men who came up with the brilliant idea of Fantasy Football never bothered to copyright their idea, and now every sports website and business sells their own fantasy football game and those founding members don’t get a single penny. Don’t let this happen to you; follow these tips for protecting your intellectual property this year.

The first thing you should do is to file for a trademark, a copyright or a patent. Make sure you research what these three things are, what they do and how they differ. Depending on your idea, you may need one, two or even all three of these but if you only choose one, make sure you understand how they differ and how you are leaving yourself exposed. Once you’ve filed for an official trademark, you have now begun the process of protecting your intellectual property.

If you feel that you can’t make this decision by yourself or if you aren’t sure where to even start, there is an entire field of law dedicated to intellectual property. With law comes lawyers and a brief consultation with an intellectual property lawyer can be worth its weight in gold. They can help steer you in the right direction and help you protect your intellectual property from day one. If you are a professional inventor and you are often in need of a lawyer for intellectual property help, you might want to keep a law professional like this on retainer at all times.

If you feel that you are sitting on a goldmine instead of simply a nice idea, you probably want to learn as much as you can about how others can use your idea, and more importantly, how you can make money off of your idea by letting others use it. Intellectual property law is constantly changing and being modified so try to stay on top of intellectual property news stories and do some reading on how intellectual property law came to be.

Finally, although you may be convinced that your idea is tops, you might want to head back to the drawing board and fill in some of the blanks surrounding your idea. It may be true that as your idea stands now, you might make some real cash on it but if you can manage to improve upon your original design, you might make even more. The important thing is to not wait to claim intellectual property rights on your original idea long enough for someone to take it away from you. Intellectual property rights are an interesting field of law that can make you some serious cash if you use them the right way.

Tips for protecting your intellectual property rights on a global scale

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

It seems like almost a daily occurrence that we see stories on television or in the newspaper about massive intellectual property right violations around the world. From peer to peer file sharing programs in European countries where copyright law is practically never enforced to black market DVDs of Hollywood hits in markets all over Southeast Asia, keeping an eye on your intellectual property rights around the world is a full time job. Major movie studios and corporations have entire divisions of people working full time jobs tracking down and suing individuals who have accidentally or purposefully violated their intellectual property rights. Some companies, like Disney and Major League Baseball, even face harsh criticism for their seemingly ruthless pursuit and prosecution of intellectual property violators, but for the average person, it is impossible to adequately track how their intellectual property rights are being used by others, especially if they display their material online. Here are a few tips for the average Intellectual property rights holder that is concerned about violations on a global scale.

While the online world has made copying and distributing intellectual property substantially easier, it has also made access to the latest laws, rules and mandates governing international copyright law. In the past, intellectual property right holders who wished to brush up on copyright law either had to sequester themselves in a dusty library for a few weeks or they had to fork over cash for a class at a local university or college. Today, you can learn about how police and federal officials in countries all over the world determine and then prosecute cases of intellectual property law in minutes thanks to the seemingly endless amount of reading material found online. There are even several websites that catalog and house hundreds or even thousands of related international copyright books for easy reference. You can also customize online news programs to send you updates and breaking stories in the world of intellectual property law each and every day.

While educating yourself on your rights as they pertain to the various jurisdictions around the world is a good idea, having an expert on your side is even more important. The lawyer teams used by major corporations to protect their intellectual property is the stuff of legend and while no one expects you to be able to hire a team of top lawyers to protect your one piece of intellectual property, you should have at least one law professional on your side if you plan on making any money from your creation. Picking the right intellectual property lawyer is difficult. Not only do they have to be certified by a national coalition whose job it is to maintain the highest levels of quality and professionalism, but you also have to find a lawyer who has a specialty in your type of intellectual property. Add to that the fact that you should also find a lawyer who specializes in the type of media your piece of intellectual property is in, and the search can be a bit overwhelming, but with a multitude of online resources at your disposal, you make your search significantly easier.

Choosing the right copyright attorney

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

If you have a million dollar idea stewing in your head, it is only normal for you to be a bit concerned about having that idea taken from you, which is why it is always a good idea to hire a smart intellectual property lawyer who can not only steer you in the right direction but can continue to assist you through the various trials and tribulations that your patent may go through. Here are a few essential things you need to look for when picking the perfect intellectual property attorney.

First and foremost, they must have a law degree under their belts, and it helps if they have some experience, as well. While it may seem like a good cost cutting measure to hire a lawyer that is a little short on experience, remember, you are protecting your intellectual property here, a potential idea that could make you millions of dollars, you don’t want to cut any corners you don’t have to cut.

Second, it is vitally important that your intellectual property lawyer have a background in whatever field your intellectual property idea is in. For instance, if your idea has to do with computers, it is a good idea to have a lawyer that can understand what your idea does, how it works and why it is so important. Most cities have hundreds or even thousands of intellectual property lawyers available so finding one that you can relate to should be easy.

Next, your patent or trademark lawyer must be registered with the patent and trademark office in the city, state or country you are in. If you hire a lawyer and later find out that they aren’t registered, than you should break off communication with that lawyer right away as they might be a shyster. The Patent and Trademark office will even test your patent attorney to make sure they are qualified to practice trademark law. This tough testing system is meant to keep dishonest and unqualified lawyers from flooding the market. Even after you hire your lawyer, you should check in with the office to find out if your lawyer was being completely honest with you.

The final piece of advice you can get is to go with someone you trust. There is a very good chance that you will have to sit and explain your idea to several lawyers before you find one that not only understands what you’re talking about but also believes in you and thinks that this is a great invention. If all you are getting is blank stares and empty looks, move on. You must have a good working relationship with your patent lawyer or the whole process can be for naught.

As you can see, finding the perfect patent lawyer is far from easy and it can be an extremely frustrating experience finding one, but once you do, you will be able to properly protect yourself from various people who want nothing more than to run out and take your idea for themselves.

Do I need to buy intellectual property insurance?

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

Before most people even perfect their own personal piece of intellectual property, they begin to worry about who might profit from their creation without the proper permission. As technology advances, new and improved methods for copying and distributing stolen intellectual property become more affordable and therefore within the grasp of nefarious people the world over. While the technology to combat this theft is still being perfected, there is one positive step you can take to help protect yourself right now and that is owning intellectual property insurance. Just like car insurance or life insurance, it helps to protect individuals or corporations from having their intellectual property rights stolen. It provides comprehensive coverage for what can be lengthy and horribly expensive court cases both nationally and internationally. Let’s take a closer look at how this vitally important tool can be used to help give intellectual property owners some much needed piece of mind.

There are various companies in the United States and abroad that offer intellectual property insurance, and each one offers a slightly different policy with different guiding rules and regulations, so make sure you and your intellectual property lawyer sit down and read the entire contract that is offered to you. For instance, if you are planning on primarily distributing your intellectual property over the Internet, it might be a good idea to buy a policy that affords extra protection for digital media distribution. Generally, intellectual property insurance helps to protect companies, and sometimes individuals, from the costs of defending their intellectual property rights in court. Domestic intellectual property right cases can be quite lengthy, but when you involve places and law systems where intellectual property right enforcement is lax or even non-existent, cases can be drawn out for years. It is this fear that makes intellectual property right insurance so popular.

If you have recently patented your own personal piece of intellectual property, it is a good idea to buy intellectual property insurance if you feel that there is a chance that you may be sued by another individual or company for violating their intellectual property. Just as the old saying in Hollywood goes that only a handful of original movies have ever been made and everything else is just a retelling of that same old story, intellectual property is always building upward and onward; using previous generations of intellectual property as a foundation. Almost everyone uses inspiration or ideas garnered from other copyrighted material for their own piece of intellectual property so the possibility of being sued by other people is always present. Intellectual property insurance can help you protect yourself in these cases as long as you have legally established that the copyright you have on your piece of intellectual property is authentic and verified.

For years, the looming cost of protecting one’s intellectual property rights have discouraged people from inventing or creating ideas or products that might have genuinely helped the world be a better place. Thanks to intellectual property insurance, people everywhere can rest assured that they are protected no matter what.

Protecting your intellectual property rights on the Internet

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

For years, intellectual property rights have been one of the most difficult and complicated areas of law to police. As the world shrinks in size and technology advances, the ability to copy intellectual property rights and distribute illegal material gets much easier. Now, with the advent of the Internet, a person can have their intellectual property rights violated with just a few clicks of a mouse. Major corporations such as Disney spend millions of dollars every year chasing down various leads they receive from concerned fans who have seen various cartoon and movie characters used in ways not becoming of their creators. As technology for stealing intellectual property rights advances, there is also technology in the works to help people secure their intellectual property rights, as well.

As the full potential of the Internet has been realized over the past ten years, a race has broken out between various companies whose goal it is to provide the best digital security to protect the intellectual property rights of individuals, companies and government. One of the most promising pieces of technology is known as a digital watermark. Much like a chemical watermark that helps to protect a piece of printed intellectual property, a digital watermark helps a person keep track of who is using their intellectual property and who is stealing it.

The technology behind digital watermarks is ingenious. With every digital piece of media placed on the Internet, including music, images and text, there are tiny encoded pieces of information that can notify its owner if it is copied or used by another person on another computer. These tiny bits of information are almost impossible to separate from the piece of intellectual property it is trying to protect, and thanks to continued advancements in technology, many digital watermarks will distort or render the piece of intellectual property it is protecting useless or unreadable if a hacker does manage to find a way to remove the watermark. The digital watermark can even help a intellectual property right owner determine if the person who is using their material has paid for it.

Obviously, as most technology is on the Internet, this advancement is very new and is still in various stages of development, but it does provide the intellectual property right owner a degree of hope that was absent before.

If you have recently trademarked a piece of intellectual property and you aren’t sure how to safely distribute your property on the Internet, a good place to start is with an intellectual property lawyer that has a good working knowledge of the Internet and the ever changing laws and regulations that govern it. It is also a good idea to find a lawyer that has express knowledge of international intellectual property laws since the Internet allows for instant world wide access to anything that you might have created. Currently, there are several companies working on various digital watermark solutions that no doubt will become the industry standard in the coming years.

Things to keep in mind if you are thinking of adopting a child from abroad

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

While the practice of adopting a child from another country has only just become somewhat mainstream in the past few years, the practice has been going on for generations as parents look to help one innocent life from outside of the United States. Before you start your journey, you should know that it is seldom easy, seldom cheap and can be fraught with more problems than you can imagine. Here are a few general tips for parents or singles looking to adopt a child from outside of the United States.

If everyone waited until they were financially secure to have kids, there would be a lot less parents out there since so many people never really reach the level of financial security they wish they could. However, if you are considering adopting a child from outside the US, especially if you are thinking about adopting a child from a third world country, you are going to need enough cash to get you through the process. The first thing you should consider doing is hiring an adoption lawyer to help walk you though the steps and let you know what to expect. Even the most straightforward and problem free adoption can be stopped, delayed or changed at the last minute and you need to have someone by your side prepared to deal with foreign governments and unscrupulous officials. Expect fees to come out of nowhere and rates to be increased right in front of you. Don’t expect others to have the same value for human life that you do.

If you’re hoping to learn a lot about the birth parents of the child you’re adopting, you will likely end up disappointed. If you’re lucky, you may learn about the birth mother at one point, but that would be the limit to any available knowledge. In most cases, the name and address of the birth father is never recorded so any chance to trace back heritage or a family tree is all but impossible. For obvious reasons, this can be tough for your adopted child to take when they are old enough to understand, so be prepared for that eventual conversation.

Probably the most important tip that experienced parents can share is that you don’t have to save the world and if you guilt yourself into feeling that way, not only are you going to be miserable but you likely won’t be able to provide the quality of life for multiple children or for a sick child that you would for one or possibly two healthy children. When you first see the photographs of the available children, it is going to be extremely tough to “pass” on a child, after all, it is a human life that you might have just doomed to misery, but try to remain positive that if you do adopt a child, you’re granting them their ultimate wish. You can’t adopt them all so try and take pride in the one you are able to help.

Best international law schools

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

Every year, US News and World Report releases their lists of college and university rankings in every field imaginable. One of the most important lists they reveal is the one that ranks law schools. The rankings are so comprehensive that they are broken down into different kinds of law, including international law. Let’s take a look at the US News and World Report ranking for the best international law schools in the United States.

At the top of the list is NYU, New York University, one of the most exclusive law schools in the world. What makes NYU so good is the tiny size of their law school. Enrollment is limited to under 1500 total students so you know that you’ll be getting incredible one on one mentoring from the legendary staff on hand there, and although it isn’t cheap (about $40 grand a year) it is considerably less than many other law schools with a similar reputation.

Next up is Columbia University, another school known around the world for having a legendary law program. Full time enrollment at Columbia’s law school is even smaller than NYU (1200) and the cost is similar as well ($43000 per year). Since Columbia is located right in the heart of New York City, just like NYU, you will often find that people who apply to one will apply to the other since there is very little drop off in prestige at either school.

Coming in third is Harvard Law. Located in beautiful Cambridge, Mass, Harvard offers a law school experience second to none and is even a slight bit cheaper per year ($39,000) than Columbia or NYU. The enrollment at Harvard Law is a bit higher than both Columbia or NYU (1700) but there really isn’t any law degree that will open more doors and impress more people than a degree from Harvard.

The first dark horse of the list comes in at number four. Georgetown University is known by more people as a basketball powerhouse than anything else, but the Washington D.C. based university also has one of the most respected international law programs in the world. With a competitive enrollment of only 1600 people and a full time tuition rate of just under $40,000, Georgetown is serious player in the world of high end law schools. Besides, what better place to examine international law than in Washington D.C.?

Coming in fifth is tie between Yale University in Connecticut and American University in Washington D.C. American offers a tantalizing combination of affordable tuition ($37,000) and low enrollment (1200) that helps it win over suitors who may wish for a better learning environment than other schools on the list, while Yale strictly appeals to those with money to burn thanks to a tuition over $43,000, but it can’t be beat when it comes to one on one interaction with your professor. The enrollment of Yale Law was only 586 in 2007.

As you can see, there are many fine international law school choices in the United States, but you had better bring your savings if you plan on attending.

International investments and the law

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that one of the most active and powerful parts of international law is the part regarding investments and money. Every year, countries spend trillions of dollars investing in each other for raw materials, manufacturing, mining, lumber and much, much more. Sometimes, these contracts can seem lopsided or one country can appear to be taking advantage of another unfairly. You can also have situations where threats or collusion can occur that can influence why one country agreed to something, even if it appears that they don’t have that country’s best interests in mind. If it wasn’t for international law and international courts, cases like these would never be resolved and almost no international trading would get done. Let’s take a look at how international law influences trade around the world.

With more and more attention being paid to the environment, world wide agreements such as the Kyoto Protocols have changed the way that international business is done, even if countries like the United States haven’t signed off on it yet. However, critics sight the Kyoto treaty, and many environment treaties like it, as a major roadblock to doing business in an efficient way. Say country A wants to open up a huge mine in country B. In the past, the mine was dug and the ore or diamonds were taken out, but now, environmental treaties require that certain standards be met along the way. These standards may help things be done in a more earth-friendly way, but those extra costs that are rung up will likely cut into profits or even deter the two countries from doing business at all. If the treaties are ignored, both countries could face fines or other stiff penalties from international courts for violating the treaty. These environmental treaties are considered extremely unfair to developing countries that don’t have the advanced technology at their disposal to operate mines and do other such operations in an environmentally friendly way. The argument over environmental treaties and their impact on business and investments will continue into the future as conditions like global warming get worse and the demand for natural resources increases as well.

On a completely different front, international law can influence things like copyright and can cause a company to have to invest millions or even billions to change decades of their product to meet the new laws. The perfect example was the recent battle between the World Wildlife Fund and the World Wrestling Federation. The World Wildlife Fund filed a suit in international court saying that they had the rights to the initials WWF, and they won. The wrestling organization was then forced to abandon those initials and completely rebrand itself, a process that any company would dread. They were even forced to go back through their extensive tape library that consisted of hundreds of thousands of hours of footage and digitally remove any mention of the WWF name or logo. The cost of such a project is literally unquantifiable.

The New York Convention

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

When it comes to solving cross border disputes, many different companies and countries have multiple options available to them. Most people look towards the courts as a way to solve international incidents, but vast differences in laws make the usual court set up almost impossible, that’s why more and more countries look to arbitration as a way to quickly, efficiently and satisfactorily solve minor international shipping disputes. While some countries had working agreements on how these arbitration hearings were to work, it wasn’t until the historic New York Convention, also known as the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in 1958 that mandated a format that was generally agreeable amongst most major counties. Today, this convention has helped lay the groundwork for the resolution of thousands of minor and major international shipping disputes.

Probably the biggest thing standing in the way of this convention working out was the subject of enforceability. One country would agree that a particular form of arbitration should be legally binding around the world but another country would find flaws in the formula or they would perceive that particular style of arbitration as being biased towards one side, one religion or one way of doing business. The titanic challenge that the 1958 convention faced was how to present arbitration as a catch-all that everyone could agree with. After a significant amount of debate that ruled out other alternate forms of dispute resolution, mediation was decided upon and a general format was put into place that, with a few extra bits and pieces added, is still in effect to this very day.

International arbitration also has other advantages over a court system that may or may not favor one country over another. The international arbitration system that was agreed upon at the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in 1958 sought to make arbitration hearings unappealable, so they couldn’t be fought for years in a court-like system that everyone found frustrating. The site where the arbitration hearing is held is almost always (expect for rare examples) on neutral ground so that both sides of the dispute feel comfortable with what is being ruled on.

While the firm nature of international arbitration is one of its biggest selling points, the people who crafted the convention rules also understood the fact that arbitration can’t always be a one size fits all scenario. There are several different kinds of arbitration with different rules in place for different kinds of disputes. Both sides of the dispute must agree on the type of arbitration they are going to have so that the case can move forward. This flexibility has been a huge reason why the arbitration system is still functioning and popular today.

As you can see, the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in 1958 was a major step in opening up world trade. Disputes and conflicts will always happen, the challenge is finding a dispute resolution mechanism that is agreeable to the overwhelming majority of the world and, for now, that has been accomplished.