The Traklight Blog

Explore the world of intangible assets and IP with guest blogs, business owner interviews, and more.

Learning From Failure

It is said that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes, and while that may be true, it is nevertheless painful. It can be especially painful for entrepreneurs, for whom mistakes can potentially have far more impact, especially if they are working with others. Unfortunately, there is as of yet no way to entirely avoid the occasional hiccup, but learning from the past failures of others can be instuctive in avoiding similar blunders. 

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Keep Your Business Safe This Summer

Summer is here, which means we are in the midst of one of the most dangerous times of the year. With the summer holidays comes the opportunity to relax and enjoy time with friends and family. But there is a level of responsibility that comes with the fun and festivities of the season so that everyone can enjoy themselves without fear of injury. The same can be said of businesses, not only in summer but year-round. Taking steps to make sure your company is secure is vital to allowing your business the freedom to create and innovate without having to fret over potential risks. Here are some of the most important measures you can take to keep your business protected.

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Uber Fires Top Employee Amidst Google Lawsuit

Protecting your company's trade secrets and other intellectual property is vitally important, even more so when your company is one of the largest in the world. Top businesses don't stay on top for long if they allow their ideas and methods to walk out the door to competitors. And having a former employee take those ideas to one of the most noteworthy (for good or ill) companies in the U.S. is bound to make for turmoil and legal drama. 

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Do Your Research Before You Innovate

Entrepreneurs spend a great deal of time working on ideas and concepts before they even take pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to place the idea into a tangible form. These ideas can consume you, keep you up at night and take over your weekends and spare moments, pressing you onward until you act upon the idea to make it something real.

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PayPal Sues Pandora for Trademark Infringement

In the world of trademarks, it can be tricky to navigate the sea of pre-existing ideas and logos to find something that can be uniquely yours. Some cases of trademark infringement could charitably be put down to a lack of research on the part of those infringing, although they do still bear responsibility for the oversight. But in the case of large, global brands, it's far harder to claim ignorance should your own logo be found to be too similar to theirs. 

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Supreme Court Deals Blow to Patent Trolls

Patent trolls have long been an issue in the world of intellectual property. For innovators, patent trolls represent an ever-present threat to their work, as one lawsuit could mean spending time and money they don't have on a court battle. For many observers, patent trolls are a miscarriage of the spirit of intellectual property laws, using an overly broad patent as a tool to extort money from companies rather than as a means of protecting their creations. But a recent court decision may prove a setback for future frivolous lawsuits.

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Traklight Featured on the Avnet MakerSource Podcast

Our own Mary Juetten joined the MakerSource Podcast to talk with Bob Merriman on a recent episode. Mary and Bob talked about the origins of Traklight and where the idea came from, how many startups make the mistake of ignoring or putting off IP concerns like patents or trademarks until it's too late, and the importance of protecting the "secret sauce' of your business given how many companies work in the same industry or market. They also discuss how entrepreneurs can be unaware of what they don't know when it comes to IP, and how that can lead to mistakes like not having employment agreements or NDAs for employees, not considering the security of their private data or files, or infringing on others' IP inadvertently. They also talk about how Traklight works to help startups identify their business risks and potential intellectual property and avoid early-stage mistakes with ID your IP. 

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Legal Issues for the Startup

Many startup companies operate on a tight budget and try to cut costs where possible. Often that includes forgoing legal advice and trying the do-it-yourself method. But not seeking legal counsel for important early stage decisions can end up being costlier in the long run. Investing in professional advice can help you avoid a number of mistakes that could threaten your business’ viability.

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What Business Assets You Need to Protect

If you're just now opening doors to your new business, you probably have a flurry of important questions running through your head about customers and rent and upkeep and all the day-to-day things that will determine your long-term success. But one important question you might not be considering is, "Do I have intellectual property (IP) that needs protecting?"  Your IP helps you and the economy when you can protect the items you either create or use to help produce commerce for your company. You're also assuring your financial future by seeking out IP you can protect on a national and international level so no one else can profit from them.

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Culture and Intellectual Property

In much of our writing over the years, we have noted the intersection of intellectual property laws and rights with the culture we consume and the things we buy. Looking at history, many of our commercial institutions grew to their current stature through their ability to rightly or wrongly dominate their respective marketplace, and much of that is seen in the brands and intellectual property that they have built over the years. There are ideas and products behind those companies that have venerated them long after their one-time competitors have faded into history.

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Know the Rules for Fair Use

You never want to infringe on trademarks. In addition to being a legal violation, it seems doubtful that any business would want to be viewed as unoriginal. So what happens if your business creates something that is slightly similar to an item that has already been trademarked?  Fair use applies to trademarks as much as it does to copyrights. But you still have to be very careful or you could end up dealing with complicated legal issues.

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Form an IP Strategy

The best way to make sure that you are handling the tasks you need to is to come up with a plan or strategy. Relying on your memory or some hastily scribbled notes that might not make sense the next day isn't the best way to methodically run a business or any enterprise. And given the amount of things you have to do, a haphazard approach to your work is bound to lead to things being forgotten.

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Sort Out Potential Legal Issues For Your Business Early

No one likes to think about, much less tackle, the potentially tedious tasks that come with the responsibilities of life. That's why so many of us put off doing our taxes or going to the DMV. Often there are things that are more pressing, and if you're honest with yourself, you really don't want to do it, even though you know you're going to have to eventually. Procrastination is easy, especially when you're the driving force of your business. You should be out there leading your employees or dreaming up the next project! But small details matter, especially when they can become big problems. There are a few key areas to mind to prevent disaster.

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Nokia and Apple in Legal Standoff

 

When it comes to intellectual property lawsuits, there are usually a couple of different types observed. More often than not you can come across a startup or small business suing a major corporation, claiming the industry giant has come in and stolen their idea to further enrich themselves. Within that, there are usually those with a solid case mixed in with those deemed "patent trolls", looking to cash in on their broad patents that otherwise go unused. But on the occasions that you see two big names enter into a legal battle, it is worth noting, as the future of entire industries can shift based on a court decision.

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Beyond Infringement to Rights Monetization

In her latest Forbes article, Mary speaks with Ray Young of RightsIn. RightsIn is a startup seeking to help artists monetize their creations by providing an avenue for licensing their films and music through an online marketplace. Ray talks about how the RightsIn marketplace offers creators more control of the licensing and monetization of their work, the process of how the product was developed, and his experience with IP in the entertainment industry.

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Get Ready for the New Year

As the holidays approach, many of us get caught up in planning and preparing and various family events and functions, and our focus on work can begin to wane, if only slightly. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing — after all, many of us work hard throughout the year in part to be able to enjoy this time with family. But the holidays also herald the end of the calendar year, and that offers an opportunity to examine both yourself and your business.

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IP Mistakes from Small Businesses, Part II

In my previous blog, I wrote about the importance of intellectual property (IP) and the ways in which small businesses can go about protecting their own.  But often many businesses fail to recognize the importance of their intangible assets, instead overlooking them in favor of more immediate concerns. But failing to recognize the value in intellectual property can lead to mistakes that put businesses at risk. Here are some of the most common causes of IP mistakes and how to avoid them.

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IP Mistakes for Small Businesses

If you have a small business, you might think that your assets are limited to what you have on hand. But the reality is that you haven’t considerable intangible assets tied up in your business that you haven’t considered. If your business is just getting started, the overwhelming majority of your company’s value comes from your intellectual property (IP). But despite their importance, most small businesses don’t do enough to protect their IP because they don’t know enough about it. Here are a few basics to help you get started.

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