Posts Tagged ‘pitfalls’

Is it really OK to continue?

Posted on May 18, 2011 by

How toNo one, not even an off-duty lawyer, enjoys wading through onerous, boring, never-ending fine print. Especially not when all that stands between them and sharing their favorite music, art, or other media with friends and fans is clicking on one little “ok” button!

But if you care about what other people can do with what you upload, you really need to understand those terms of service. This is especially important if you are a professional with a business interest in your data – a photographer posting photos to Twitter where his followers can give real-time feedback, or a musician sharing a new music video with her Facebook fans. An example of why reading the terms is so important came up on May 10 when Twitpic changed their terms of service, helping themselves to a lot more of your rights.

The new terms require that users let Twitpic give “affiliates” the rights to use, distribute, make derivative works, and reproduce an uploaded item, for free, forever, without asking the users. Now, a musician might be okay with letting Twitpic use her song in an ad for the service without paying her – could be great PR and a fair exchange for the benefit the musician gets from the service. But what’s this affiliate business? There’s no definition of affiliate so it could be anybody. Is it Twitpic’s employees, vendors, favorite news organizations? A company they do business with – perhaps a big search engine, social network, or computer company? A competitor of mine who also uses the service? Is it anyone I think ought to be paying me for the right to play that song? Doesn’t matter – by uploading the song, I’ve given Twitpic the right to decide for me who else gets free access to my song. Of course, I’m still the copyright holder, and I can still offer a license to the song to other people I approve of – but why should they pay me when they could just ask Twitpic for a free license?

These terms are not unusual – and courts have held that these kinds of click-ok-to-agree contracts are actually binding. If you create media and consider yourself a professional with any level of business interest in what you create, it’s really important to evaluate what media you share on-line and what the terms of service mean for you professionally. Decide what you’re ok with *before* continuing!


3 Pitfalls of DIY Patent Provisionals

Caution signTechnically, you don’t need a lawyer to write a provisional patent application. It’s true! But you’ll miss out on having a trained eye helping you avoid all the mistakes that await the novice drafter. And, unfortunately, an improperly written provisional can really be just as bad as no application at all. Let’s look at three of the big pitfalls to watch out for.

When Creating a Buzz Impacts Patentability

Caution signAs an inventor, it’s not surprising that you want to tell others about your invention, especially if your company is releasing new products or functionality based upon it. For example, you may display a poster and an abstract at a conference, send a marketing team off to a trade show, or give a talk at a networking event. However, in doing so, you may have just unintentionally and permanently voided your right to a patent!

One of the most critical things to understand about patents is how disclosures can impact your patent rights, regardless of whether you are an inventor, an engineer, or the CEO of the next hot startup. Mishandling your IP in the early stages of a product launch can create a long-term risk that could complicate your efforts to win a patent, and potentially even kills financing or licensing deals for many years to come.

This article gets into some of the risks around the issue of disclosure. After we discuss what can go wrong, I’ll cover the best approaches for prevention in Part II.