As technology becomes an ever-increasing part of most businesses, so does the need to become more sophisticated on issues regarding intellectual property ? patents, trademarks and copyrights.
“An electronic process now can be easily patented,” says Eric Macey, partner in Novack and Macey LLP. “Because technology is claiming more of business, you have to become more familiar with it, because you are consistently signing license agreements to do business, and you are consistently getting rights to use technology in a certain way from people who hold patents.”
You have to make sure you know that what you’re doing is consistent with the law, particularly when you are outsourcing, a practice which is growing because of the cost benefits and flexibility that it can offer.
“When you outsource, you enter into contractual relationships that involve technology, which may involve patent rights, trademark rights and other rights,” Macey says. “You have to understand that you can’t just look at a form agreement and sign it. It’s not a simple purchase order. It’s not like that anymore.”
For instance, a company may outsource its website to a Web developer, and the site will offer items for sale from your inventory and provide for e-commerce sales. You may want your employees to have access to the site which may add to potential problems.
“You sign some agreement that has all kinds of information on it, on copyrights and patents that this company has that you can’t use and you can’t disclose and things like that,” Macey says. “I think in the old days you just signed them and didn’t read the fine print, but I think it has greater implications now because there is greater liability than you had before.”
Eric Macey, partner in Novack and Macey LLP, is a co-founder of the firm. He focuses on areas such as arbitration, business torts, class-action defense, commercial litigation, employment law, financial services and others. He has a clientele consisting of a wide range of business corporations and institutions, investment ventures, partnerships, and individuals. Macey has extensive trial experience in state and federal courts throughout the country and has acted as both an arbitrator and mediator in alternative dispute resolution settings.