Debt recovery dos and don'ts

Debt recovery becomes a priority especially during an economic downturn so here's an updated practical article on the subject.

Bad debts can drive a business into insolvency, expose proprietors to personal liability and lead to far worse. Late payments can do the same.

Aiming for best practice, here's a short list of debt recovery dos and don'ts helpful for creditors.

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The joy of IP strategy - 10 questions

All businesses have some intellectual property (IP), and most can do with a better IP strategy. For a better IP strategy it helps to ask the right questions.

Here are 10 practical questions for a business or idea based on IP. They come from tracking hundreds of client matters in our firm. The questions are especially useful for an IP strategic planning exercise.

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Strategy makes domain name gold

Domain name sales continue to attract occasional remarkable prices. That's great news for a few, but for millions of other domain name holders a reminder is needed that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

As new domain spaces have opened up they've been gold fields for registration services. This is because companies and individuals have rushed to pay and secure valuable names or names perceived to be valuable at some time.

What's missed in the rush is an articulated strategy for name protection and registration. It is this strategy which for most can turn a name into gold.

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Business performance and metrics for SLAs

I have a favourite question in conversations with start-ups and new clients. I ask it very early in a first client interview.

It's a question which leads to discussions about the client's business or commercial situation. I ask the same question of clients who seek SLAs (so-called service level agreements).

It's a question designed to shed light on the client's business model. It also helps identify the business performance metrics or measures which help prepare a good contract to achieve an effective legal solution.

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Legal costs and barrister fees

In June 2009 the Australian Bureau of Statistics published Legal Services, its latest round of statistics on the legal sector. It contained the graphic on the left charting barrister fees and work areas. You'll see intellectual property is about 5% of barrister fees, AKA barrister litigation legal costs.

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Commercialisation defined

This article seeks to define commercialisation, and the related concepts of entrepreneurship and innovation. It does this in the context of many disciplines, including law.

Our interest is particularly on the affect of innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialisation on intellectual assets.

Definitions are important because without them discussions can turn to mud. Preparing definitions can be very hard work. It involves putting a great weight on one's shoulders, like Atlas in the accompanying photo taken in New York's Rockefeller Center in the early 1980s.

A complication for developing useful definitions is that different disciplines use different terms. When referring to intellectual assets lawyers tend to use "intellectual property", management consultants use "intellectual capital", scientists and engineers might use "technology" and accountants use "intangible assets".

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Business survival checklist

Lightbulb is a law blog on intellectual property and its commercialisation. They might be regarded as esoteric or technical subjects. They are, and they aren't. For example, their broader context is business law and business needs generally.

Prominent in those contexts is the topic of business survival.

Here is a tool to help our readers to conduct a business audit for business survival. What are the signals your business must respond to for survival?

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Internet video business models

Our law firm is now geared for more regular production of online video. The latest videos are linked below. In technology terms we've achieved that competency in collaboration with Michael Ney at Sensory Image and Jason Kemp at Dialog.

Michael and Jason would happy to have a dialogue with you if video online suits your marketing or other needs. Contact them directly or email me.

For our firm the business model for internet video is very clear.

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Web 2.0 and online collaboration for Australian retailers

It's time for Australian retailers to get on their online bike. As lawyers specialising in internet and web services we see many IT trends years before they become common knowledge in the market. For example we've noted for years that Australian marketers of apparel will miss potential sales if their brands have a poor online presence.

We now have more statistical evidence supporting our view on IT and marketing trends relating to retailing of apparel.

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Interpreting 1,000,000,000 downloads

Sometime this week Apple's App Store will reach the milestone of one billion downloads. That is a billion downloads of applications, available free-of-charge or for a fee, from the App Store on Apple's iTunes, for use on an Apple iPhone or iTouch. The number is a sign of the mobile changing times.

A less-heralded fact is that back on 19 November 2008 the Mozilla Firefox browser and Firefox Add-ons (ie browser applications or plug-ins) also reached the milestone of one billion downloads. That is a billion downloads, all eating away at the browser leader, Microsoft Explorer. It's a sign of the browser changing times.

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7 key questions for IP valuation

Perhaps you are thinking of selling, buying, investing or advising on a transaction in which valuation of intellectual property is required?

This article sets out seven questions to review with specialist advisers.

Valuation is a complex subject.

To simplify the discussion we'll use the term intellectual property, though broadly defined. That term is used instead of using additional technical terms - such as intangible assets (as used in accounting) or intellectual capital (as used in management consultancy).

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Encyclopaedia content licensing and contracts

Microsoft's announcement in March 2009 that it will discontinue Encarta provides valuable business strategy and management lessons. Encarta is an encyclopaedia offered from 1993 on a CD-ROM disc and subsequently on the web. All will end in 2009.

While money was not the motivator, the crowd that clouds at Wikipedia and elsewhere on the internet has helped starve the business out of Microsoft's Encarta. That crowd are computer users and they in the sense that they are part of cloud computing sending content by them or others to external hosted servers.

This article is a case study on 250 years of business and legal history relevant to three encyclopaedias - Encarta, Encylopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia. It is structured by three historical periods, or Acts, as we've called them here. Our focus is on content licensing for these three publications. Their content includes images, text, video and other data. Like them, others with an interest in methods for making money from content include business consultants, authors, creators, and various intermediaries.

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5 ideas for business reinvention

At midnight on 27 February 2009 the news staff of the Rocky Mountain News commemorated the death of their 150 year old newspaper by uploading a video on the free video sharing website, Vimeo. In 2009 that says it all.

This is a story about a failure to sufficiently innovate or re-invent a business to avoid closure. It ends with 5 ideas to avoid business death by making proactive improvements and changes.

Founded in 1859, the Rocky Mountain News called Denver, Colorado its home town. The other local paper was the Denver Post.

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Facebook's monetisation strategy

Commercial websites are often littered with advertising. Facebook is not. Facebook  has long kept it's site clean and with minimal advertising. Why?

In a television interview this month a Facebook board member said  it could have a billion dollars of revenue per year from ads if it wanted to increase the flow from Facebook's advertising tap. So why does Facebook not do this?

What would you say? Is Facebook's interface design an aesthetic design decision set up to help its users? Alternatively, does the interface design reflect deeper business design or business strategy decision?

Lightbulb ponders this question in three steps.

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Copyright licensing 101 for the almost famous

Seeking fame off the back of other people's content is a risky business. If the content belongs to others you may need a licence, permission or consent, preferably in writing.

The Rin on the Rox story this week illustrates the risks. They are an LA amateur vocal duo. They recorded   karaoke-style music videos in their bathroom and uploaded them to YouTube. They attracted millions of viewers singing their Beyonce-style stuff. It landed them a gig on The Ellen Degeneres Show.

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