Legal-practice-experts

Taking law out of legal practice

Throughout law school, law students are required to regurgitate case law and legislation in essays and exams. In a law exam, a problem is presented, and students only have to identify legal issues and apply relevant laws.

Law students graduate expecting work in a commercial law firm to involve tasks like this:

1. Client seeks advice on a particular area of law

2. Lawyer reads, listens and applies legal knowledge, avising and solving the client's problems.

3. Client follows that legal advice.

4. Lawyer bills, client pays, case closed.

Classic legal tasks one to four are only one dimension of what is required by clients, particularly start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses. These classic tasks were evolved in what has been called the purely bespoke or artisan era of legal practice.

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Tax-deductions-for-software-development

How to get tax deductions for in-house software development

Business priorities shift depending on where a business is in its lifecycle from start-up to early growth and maturity.

Seizing opportunities to deduct business expenditure is especially important for businesses in their start-up and early growth stages.

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Rd-tax

Budget 2014 - R&D tax weakened for start-ups

Despite the momentous announcement in the Budget that the Medicare changes will help fund medical research in Australia, the Budget has reduced the incentive for research and development (“R&D”) in other areas. It is expected that the medical research fund will top $20 billion.

The government anticipates that the reduction in the R&D offset will be softened by the already announced reduction in the company tax rate.

Certainly, the company tax rates will go down by 1.5% from 30% to 28.5% from 1 July 2015.

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Legal-nonsense

Legal nonsense

When used on its own, do not expect business law to get you to a sensible or good result. It can happen but it is not a given.

When only purely legal thinking is in operation often business law is a road to nonsense, failure or suboptimal results.

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Dispute-resolution-easier

Making dispute resolution easier and avoidable

The subject of access to justice appeared in three recent readings - an official report, a blog post and a new book. They confirm what is known and suggest improvements.

Access to justice in Australia

The official report is "Access to Justice Arrangements", a 92 page draft report of the Australian Productivity Commission released in April 2014.

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Wtf

What does WTF mean in a legal context?

WTF is usually thought of as a rude acronym. I've decided to give it a new meaning.

During a meeting yesterday I informed a new client start-up that too often new clients make contact with lawyers after a fire has started. They treat lawyers like the fire brigade.

That's when the client said: "Ah yes, WTF, meaning Where's The Fire". He said go ahead feel free to use it. So I have.

Do yourself a favour stop treating lawyers like the fire brigade – only calling when your house is on fire.

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Ifpi-top-selling-albums-2013

7 revenue facts in music in 2013

In about 1987 I attended a music lawyer's seminar at the Arts Law Center in Sydney. I have never forgotten how my eyes watered as the experienced music lawyer (Nina Stevenson) described Byzantine contractual complexity such as royalty-related cross-collateralisation in the 30+ page label contract she reviewed for a rock band. I felt then that I knew too little to be a music business lawyer.

Subsequently I've done a few dozen jobs involving music, incuding for artists, labels and publishers. Still, that's not a lot of deal flow.

But on the road to being digital much is changing.

As music business models change, mostly favouring digital formats, there has been some convergence in business models across entertainment and information markets.

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Lego-guys

Insights on engaging and motivating people

Over the last few decades workplace relations, collaboration and new ways of working have become increasingly topical.

Old ideas about organising people, companies and institutions are being proven wrong in today's context. New ideas and solutions are needed.

One element of the discussion is this question: What motivates people to do tasks, especially those that involve higher cognative function? 

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Rihanna-t-shirt

Passing off, taking goodwill takes business

In the valuation of businesses the portion attributed to goodwill is often greater than other items of property such as stock, equipment or work in progress. Pain is felt immediately when a competitor or pirate pass off its business or product as yours.

They are taking your goodwill, a business property right. Protection against this is at the heart of the tort of passing off law.

The use of passing off law is neatly illustrated in an English case involving Rihanna and sale of a designer T-shirt bearing her image.

The case was triggered after Topshop, a major English garment retailer, produced and sold the T-shirt online and in its stores.

Rihanna has an army of minders. They were not happy.

The case was launched as Robyn Rihanna Fenty and Others vs Topshop and Another. The decision was handed down in mid-2013 by Justice Birss in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, Intellectual Property.

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Funding-face

Start-up funding framework in Australia

We bring good news, there are at least seven newish ways to raise funds for start-up ventures. They are less risky than maxing out your credit cards.

They are there for early stage ventures which have no cash, family, friends or local means to raise money.

How you raise funds for a venture is critical to success. In recent years new options have become available.

Fundraising slim pickings

A generation ago, early stage venture funding involved a smaller range of options such as using personal savings, cash flow, personal loans, leasing, deferred payments, sweat equity and selling equity.

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How-music-works-david-byrne

Seven music business models for artists

The music production business and the music consumption habits of the 20th century were shaped by the technologies and distribution channels of the time.

Music was distributed on physical media (eg vinyl, cassettes or CDs), marketed heavily, sold in racks at record stores and consumed via stereo cabinets or other playback devices that shared space with lounge room furniture.

The cost of producing, manufacturing, marketing and distributing recordings was considerable. This mitigated toward the growth of large, well capitalised record companies. Appling economies of scale, they attracted or built the larger acts, shaped their repertoire, offered them major advances to guarantee exclusivity, financed recordings, publicity tours and a range of additional support.

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Lawyers-have-feelings

Lawyers have feelings too!

In November 2006 I wrote Australian advertising revenue is draining overseas, moving from offline print to online bytes. The article described the challenge ahead for Telstra's Sensis and its business model dependent on print and online telephone directories advertising revenues. The challenge then was chiefly from Google and Yahoo!.

Telstra tried to fight back against the online search engines. A little over two years later, I wrote Predictions 2009: Information and Communication Technology - Part 3. It briefly noted the closure of Telstra's search engine development venture, resulting in writing off $100 million.

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Ip-strategy-microsoft

IP strategy and the rise and rise of Bill Gates

This article was first published in the Computers section of The Australian, 30 August 1994. At that time Microsoft was forced to sign a consent decree with the US Justice Department under anti-trust law. I'm reprising it because it captures considerable research and srategy remains a critical subject.

Cliffs are one of the favourite haunts of students of human evolution. The sides of cliffs expose fossils and layers of archaeological history. In the most primative form of animal husbandry, our ancestors drove creatures great and small over cliffs into gorges and valleys below. Picking among the bones archaeologists have pieced together a story of human evolution with its moral of survival of the fittest.

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Ip-big-banana

Intellectual property is the big banana

The second richest person in the world is credited as having said: "Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana." Forbes in January 2014 ranks Bill Gates, aged 58, as worth US$57 billion. IP can have the shelf life of a banana. That has not been the case for Mr Gates.

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Fashion-entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs learn from fashion

Fashion and entrepreneurship have been linked since the dawn of industrialisation in Europe in the late 18th century.

About 200 years ago the word "entrepreneur" was made fashionable by someone who grew rich as a cotton factory entrepreneur. The French economic theorist, Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832), is credited as the first in continental Europe to write about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. He was inspired by Adam Smith.

Others who learned from fashion created Hollywood. One hundred years ago the mostly Jewish entrepreneurs of Hollywood had a poor immigrant background, hardly any education, and experience in the garment industry.

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