Clues for invention and innovation

"The future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed." This was said in January 2003 by William Gibson, the science-fiction author who coined the word "cyberspace". So if the future is already here, how do you get a piece of it?

Like tomorrow's weather forecast, the clues are already here. So look around you, your mates, home office, business, profession, industry. Where are the opportunities? What are the trends.

Is there something so burningly obvious that you agree with Bob Dylan when he sings "You don't need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows."

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How much does a trade mark registration cost?

Our firm starts the process of trade mark registration for clients by charging a minimum application stage fee of $950.

The $950 application stage fee covers professional time by a specialist trade mark lawyer and IP Australia filing costs. It includes:

  • professional availability search and advice (these would otherwise be $550),
  • advice on the "legal design" of the mark,
  • advice on who should be the owner of the mark,
  • selection of an appropriate class in which to file the application, and
  • crafting a description of goods or services for that class.

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Character licensing and merchandising in Australia

Character licensing and merchandising has a relatively recent market in Australia with industry participants and a clear legal framework.

In commercial terms it involves exploiting assets that have a history of working abroad or locally by licensing their use for toys, clothing and other products.

Prominent among these assets are well-known names, logos, images and brands. They are protected by trade mark registrations, typically connected with a character, personality, musical group or highly engaging and promoted new entrant.

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Disruptive innovation in Oz job, car, and property advertising

Reading Killing Fairfax by Fairfax journalist Pamela Williams is a breeze. This is because of its focus on personalities and use of the conventions of fiction writing.

It nails the coffin for Fairfax newspapers dependent on classified advertising and killed by ad-supported online businesses.

Killing Fairfax revisits a personal recent past. I was rarely surprised by the book’s tale, revelations, personalities or their behaviours. What stood out was the stark economics.

This is the story of the loss of wealth and power resulting from the repeated failure of the Fairfax company to react appropriately to trends obvious since at least the late 1990s.

Williams begins, structures and ends her book around these economic facts. Here they are.

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Good lawyers settle disputes early

When selecting a lawyer don't just focus on end results, consider carefuly how to achieve results fast. One of the highest value skills we should seek from dispute resolution lawyers is their predictive capacity in their area of expertise.

For this, up-to-date legal knowledge as well as technical skills is not enough.

This is especially so when the client is an individual or small businesses or when the other side has greater financial and other resources.

The word "practice" underlines practical needs, not just legal knowledge or technical legal competency on their own.

The aim is to get to results fast, whether that be a demand for money, ceasing of unlawful activity or something else.

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10 trade mark registration points worth knowing

What do you need to know if you are thinking about registering a trade mark? There's a lot more than you could ever learn from one article or even days of coaching.

To help you make decisions about registration let's break the subject down to 10 simple points worth knowing. The 10 points below were prepared by two high school students who had a week's work experience in our firm. Check your knowledge.

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China domain name scam continues

Registering a domain name can be exciting. Scammers feel it too. They feed off it.

True scammers align themselves with fake or real domain name registration bodies.

Even when they are being very legit, real domain name registration bodies apply the logic of Keens mustard, ie more is taken onto plates than used. They are businesses relying on selling what most of the time buyers will never use or benefit from.

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Brand protection goes beyond domain names

Intellectual property lawyers are all to familiar with the phone call from a new client ambushed with the news that a business domain name can no longer be used.

This unhappy client has invested thousands, tens of thousands or more on brand development. Included in this is time, energy and money spent on a business name, a domain name, logo and brand design, labelling and packaging.

This is a very common area of intellectual property legal work. It is commonplace for people to seek registration of a domain name unaided, and as a first step for a business start-up or expansion. This deceptively simple DYI task is assumed to provide protection or legal title to a name.

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Creativity versus redundancy in contract drafting

In 1997 a paragraph in an Australian business magazine jumped off the page. As I recall it stated: "At a time when intellectual property is rapidly rising in value, in business it is remarkable how the greatest value is being derived by those who give it away."

This seemed a paradox. It was two years after Netscape's August 1995 Initial Public Offering and Navigator, Netscape's free web browser software.

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Commercialisation lawyer expertise

During lunch with a technology client I reminded him that a commercialisation lawyer should have knowledge broader than silo legal knowledge. Let me illustrate with a case study about headphones.

Assume that back in 2008 a start-up wanted to lauch into the headphone business.

That client has a vision. It sees significant growth of mobile music devices leading to more people wanting to buy headphones and use the instead of low quality standard earphones.

The client's plan is to manufacture and sell designer headphones tweaked to be bass heavy for listeners of contemporary hip hop and related music genres.


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Checklist and drafting tips for Division 7A loan agreements

Private companies need to be very careful about payments to their shareholders or associates.

This is especially so at the close of each financial year when getting it wrong can have disastrous future consequences.

In essence, if it is not properly arranged under an appropriate agreement, borrowing money or assets from your own company is a risk due to Division 7A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth).

This is a brief technical guide to those risks under Australian tax law and how to avoid them.

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Every business needs a purchase order

Purchase orders can be an excellent and secure way to buy products and services. There are many considerations for drafting them well.

A purchase order is a type of buy-sell contract between a buyer and seller for products or services.

The key words here are “buyer”, “seller”, and “buy-sell”.

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Legal essentials for online retailers

Over many years our firm has assisted an increasing number of new online distributors, traders and retailers.

We’ve developed standardised procedures and documents to make legal services economical and efficient.

This article provides a framework for Australian-based entrepreneurs seeking to buy, sell and conduct commerce securely to build valuable online businesses.

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Chinese can respect copyright in architecture

The Guardian has an article on famous buildings and monuments, both old and new, copied in China: Seeing double: what China's copycat culture means for architecture.

The copyright or reputations are associated with famous names in architecture such as Zaha Hadid and Le Corbusier.

My experience with architecture and copyright in China runs opposite to The Guardian story. It provides some balance for stories about Chinese copies.

A friend and distinguished architect years ago created an inspired yacht club design and associated apartment development in Australia. It caught the eye of people in south China who sought to establish a similar coastal facility.

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How HR managers can protect IP

Human resources managers can do many practical things to protect an organisation's intellectual property.

Few do. One reason is that HR professionals and boards know too little about what IP is and how to benefit from it. So here's a simple list of tasks that will increase the value of the HR function and minimise legal costs from disputes or litigation.

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