Month: July 2020

Understanding Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (IP) is commonly defined as a group of legal rights that provide protection over things people create or invent. It might sound straightforward, but there is a lot of confusion over what can actually be protected and what can not.

Who needs to be concerned with IP Protections?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “hindsight is 20/20”. That’s especially true when it comes to IP protections. So often companies or individuals do not realize a new creation or innovation should be protected until it is too late. If you are creating or developing within your space, you need to have an IP strategy to avoid any unintentional disclosure missteps. And, when you are creating, be careful to:

  • Make records. They should be accurate, dated and corroborated.
  • Research the competitive landscape early and identify both opportunities for protection and risks of infringement.
  • Use a non-disclosure agreement or contract before collaborating with another business.
What are some of the biggest IP challenges business owners and employers need to overcome?

The goal for your IP strategy needs to be: Identify, Protect, Monetize.  The question business owners need to answer is how they can most effectively achieve this. The first step is understanding the applicable IP types and the protection gained.

Intellectual Property Type The Value
 

Trade Secret

No registration fees or costs. Goes into effect upon creation and can last forever.
 

Non-Disclosure Agreement/Contract

Very affordable and flexible. But, it only binds the contracting parties.
 

Copyright

 

Free and automatic upon creation.
 

Trademark/Service

Commercial differentiation and price enhancement. Low cost and can last forever, but must police others’ misuse.
 How can an IP strategy affect your bottom line?

It’s important to understand there is no “one-size fits all” approach to IP. The correct IP strategy must be tailored to your unique business. While some companies may be overspending on a scattered approach to protecting IP, other companies may not be investing enough and potential losing out on what could have been an important revenue stream.

The best way to right-size your strategy is to sit down with an experienced IP attorney. Protecting your intellectual property estate can be a daunting task. You’ll need someone with expertise to help guide you through the process and identify opportunities and risks you may have overlooked.

To learn more about how Epiphany Law can help with your company’s IP needs, check out our upcoming webinar. You can register here.

Do you have questions about IP? Contact us here

 

Epiphany Law Manufacturing Law

Can You Lose Your Corporate Protection?

What Every Business Owner needs to Know

Ask any business owner why they incorporated their business and one of the reasons they’ll give is “to protect myself from business liabilities.” But incorporating doesn’t mean you can never be held personally liable. Although it’s rare, courts sometimes ignore the legal protection of a corporation to hold an owner personally liable (a process called “piercing the corporate veil”).

The good news is there are steps you can take to avoid having a court pierce the corporate veil. Piercing happens when the court decides that you, as a business owner, haven’t really treated the corporation as a separate entity. In Wisconsin, the same theory applies to LLCs and their members as well. Essentially, the courts are saying that if you want the protection of incorporating, you have to follow corporation rules.

To avoid piercing:

  • Always follow corporate formalities, like holding annual meetings, keeping minutes and filing with the state on time
  • Never mix corporate assets with your personal ones (or those of another corporation or LLC)
  • When setting up your business, make sure it’s adequately funded. Courts are more willing to pierce an “undercapitalized” business
  • Always identify your business as a corporation or LLC so customers and creditors are on notice that your business has limited liability. Also identify your title so they know you’re acting on the business’ behalf
  • Never use your business to engage in illegal, fraudulent or reckless activities

Having a court pierce your business’s veil can be devastating for you as an owner. But by following the rules, you won’t give the courts a reason to pierce. And, always make sure to get the advice of a trusted business attorney if you are unsure about any of the guidelines. That way you and your business can take advantage of the protections offered by corporations and LLCs.