Intellectual Property: An Overview
Who Does the Lawyer Represent?
Given my strong interest in “technology” (whatever that means), I tend to attract clients who are in the business of developing technology products. And with the development of any product, conversation about whether and how to protect intellectual property ("IP") starts early in the process. Although I’m not an IP attorney in the strictest sense, i.e. I’m not a licensed patent attorney, I do enjoy fielding broader IP-related questions when I can.
I recently participated in an entrepreneur roundtable. It was fun because the conversation revealed challenges entrepreneurs were facing, and it gave me a chance to help them by answering some pressing questions. Someone who I happened to know is developing a physical product asked whether and how to pursue IP protection for an early stage company.
I was glad he posed the question because any product company, especially ones who are developing their own original design, runs into this question eventually.
Why You Need a Legal Business Structure
The answer to this question seems obvious, but sometimes it’s not exactly clear who your company’s attorney can and can’t represent.
Starting a Business is Hard
So you have an idea for a business...great!
Let's assume you have decided that your idea for a product or service is something worth selling. What do you plan on doing with the money? Who gets to claim the income? What happens if your product accidentally causes someone harm?
These are the types of questions that entrepreneurs encounter inevitably as soon as they begin conducting business. So is there an answer? Read on to find out.
Why are Lawyers So Expensive?
There are several moving parts. In addition to figuring out your business plan, securing financing, insurance, and a place to operate, you have to worry about actually producing the product or performing the service that will pay the bills. And that doesn't even include concerns like employees, vendors, or licenses - all part of the 800 lb. gorilla called "overhead."
Business Owner: How do you answer this question?
Not surprisingly, one of the chief complaints I hear is that lawyers cost too much. When did we decide that we were going to charge more for one hour of time than some of our clients make in a whole day? I'm not going to argue whether certain fees are reasonable. But as an independent attorney (also known as a sole practitioner), I can tell you that the lawyer doesn't take home all of the fee the client pays. Let's take a look at why.
Do You Know Your Value Proposition?
As a small business attorney, much of my practice is devoted to helping entrepreneurs figure out exactly what they have to offer. Whether I am hired to do it or just having coffee with a friend, I will inevitably ask, "Do you know your value proposition?" Too often, that question is met with a blank stare. Let's try to fix that.