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Plan for disruption, WikiLeaks did

The continuing survival of WikiLeaks is a testament to the planning work carried out for the venture. Business, social and community disruptors take note - those currently in power don't take kindly to disruptors. WikiLeaks is a disruption for states, diplomats and the military-industrial complex.

More than ever WikiLeaks, a not-for-profit media organisation, is under POLITICAL ATTACK by states. Foreign policy heads of the U.S., Australia, France and Saudi Arabia have all sent negative signals about WikiLeaks.

In the information age, for WikiLeaks and its media allies (the New York Times and a few other traditional news publishers are paying WikiLeaks in its current "first look" payment arrangement), information is an asset, currency and tool.

It's a disruption because for states the game is about secrecy. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is quoted saying today: "The Australian government unequivocally condemns the action by any of those responsible for the unauthorised release of classified and confidential information and diplomatic communications between states."

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Academic IP revenue rights in technology commercialisation

Years ago I had an enquiry from a former academic at a university. It was a simple matter and the client paid for the advice. The client then instructed me to advise on a separate matter. I found it was not possible to satisfy the client the second time around.

The background is the client had worked as an employed academic for some time at the university researching a technology.

The client had left academia to join a start-up company commercialising the technology first developed at the university.

The client instructed me to advise on claiming a share of commercialisation revenues which the start-up company had paid the university.

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11 variables for consultancy services agreements

Over many years of advising and working closely with consultants, I've perfected how to simplify contracts for consultancy services agreement.

I usually recommend a contract in a letter agreement format.

I normally title these "Consultancy Services Agreement". They are for services a consultant will provide to a client for a fee. The consultant is operating here as an independent contractor, not an employee.

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No written contract? We can help.

{jcomments on}Lawyers help clients resolve contract law disputes even when there is no written contract. Usually the costs increase, but we have ways to reduce them.

Written contracts are great business tools. Complications arise when there is no written contract. This usually leads to missing  (and often legally critical) details. 

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Australian IP Lawyer Hints on Twitter

Australian intellectual property ("IP") law is a very large canvas. So is the concept of "lawyer". Without explanation, telling someone I'm an IP lawyer sends a vague message in my case. No, I don't go to court all the time. And no I don't get paid just for legal advice.

Certainly in most cases I have some focus on specific technical areas of IP law (eg copyright, confidential information or trade marks) or areas in the vast field known as "business law".

Yet what's often needed is also general or in-depth non-legal knowledge.

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Parallel importation and the doctrine of exhaustion

Parallel importation is increasingly common in Australia's liquor, fashion and branded goods markets.

This article overviews legal considerations and sets out six pointers for management of legal risks faced by parallel importers.

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Electronic signatures are legal

A court decision this month gives further guidance on when electronic signatures might be legally accepted under law in Australia.

The 13 August 2010 court decision is Getup Ltd v Electoral Commissioner [2010] FCA 869.

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Why health records may have no copyright

The Federal Court recently held that there was no copyright in certain health records, such as prescriptions and patient health summaries. The basis was that they lacked sufficient “independent intellectual effort”. Where referral letters showed “some” independent intellectual effort - copyright was found to subsist.

The court found that it was only in a particular sample of consultation notes that it was “possible to discern a continuous narrative” showing independent intellectual effort enough to identify an author of the notes as a literary work.

In most of the consultation notes, record entries were found to be dictated by their nature and function. This affected records regarding such things as a patient's medical condition, medications, and blood pressure readings.

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Lessons from litigation in copyright versus access

Having lost in the first round, on 11 August 2010 Viacom filed papers to appeal its $US1 billion claim against YouTube arguing infringement of its copyrights by YouTube and its owner, Google.

This is a short case note on that first instance decision (a loss by Viacom). We'll also put into its context the ongoing iiNet case in Australia, as well as background "content sharing" cases such as the Napster and Grokster decisions in the last decade.

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Business method patents still OK in U.S.

This is a short case note on the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bilksi et al v Kappos [Wikipedia link].

The applicant was unsuccessful in seeking to patent a business method. It was a method to calculate the risk of price changes in the energy sector caused by seasonal changes in the weather, to be used in the creation of fixed bill energy contracts for consumers.

This particular method or process patent application failed to be eligible as a patent because it was found to be a mere concept, an abstract idea, that basically boiled down to a mathematical formula, to be applied to the energy industry.

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5 relationships between brands and e-commerce

The business model of fashion brands for decades has been to control the way they are represented and where their goods are sold. This has been central to the way they have traditionally made money. Sure, they have produced wonderful products too.

The controls fashion brands have evolved and used create an air of exclusivity about their products.

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Mad

Build trust for success online

We all value trust. It makes us buy from the corner store and buy online.

You know when trust is lost. Think of Howard Beale played by Peter Finch in the 1976 film Network. His famous line was to ask people to turn TV off, saying "I'm as mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore! " [click to watch it on YouTube].

For many businesses it's time for a change to benefit from growing confidence in the online world. Does your business have to do better online? Does your website need a makeover? Begin by asking - how do you win trust from your people, your customers and your suppliers.

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Trade mark registration - use it or lose it

Registration of a trade mark can be cancelled if the trade mark is not used. Use must be within three years of registration under section 92 of the Trade Marks Act (Cth) 1955. But what level of use is required? Many court decisions have turned on this question.

We'll examine here the recent  High Court of Australia decision, E. & J. Gallo Winery v Lion Nathan Australia Pty Limited [2010] HCA 15 (19 May 2010).

Gallo Winery is a Californian company. It is one of the largest wine producing companies in the world. Gallo became the owner of Australian trade mark number 787765 for BAREFOOT in 2005. The mark was for "wines" in class 33 and was originally registered from 9 March 1999 by Michael Houlihan, trading as Barefoot Cellars.

In 2007 Gallo took legal action alleging infringement by Lion Nathan Australia Pty Ltd for use of BAREFOOT or BAREFOOT RADLER for beer.

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Copyright requirements for originality and authorship

There are five requirements for a person or company to claim ownership to copyright work. These can be stated in simple terms. Issues  arise in their application to specific fact situations.

Copyright was orginally applied to "literary works" which by their nature had an element of creativity.  Over time a very wide range of mundane work attracted copyright protection. Courts came to recognise the existence of copyright in phone directories, tickets, football league tables and other pedestrian materials.

Firstly in the United States, and now in Australia, the highest courts have heralded a shift back to original principles for literary works.

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How to protect fashion designs

To protect fashion designs it is not sufficient to rely just on copyright, trade marks and design registrations. Fashion houses instead mostly rely on brand prestige, rapid style changes and stock control.

A recent court decision provides guidance on more ways to protect apparel designs or defend against claims of infringement.

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