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Comment: Re:it's better to do (Score 1) 467

by pacergh (#39014699) Attached to: Dealing With an Overly-Restrictive Intellectual Property Policy?

This is not always the case. If you "do" and it takes off, then it may all be taken away from you.

It is prudent to talk with an experienced startup lawyer—in this case, preferably an experience tech startup lawyer.

Good lawyers tell you how to do move forward with the least risk of getting sued.

Comment: Re:Do you have kids? (Score 1) 467

by pacergh (#39014665) Attached to: Dealing With an Overly-Restrictive Intellectual Property Policy?

Exactly. And by teaching your kid/partner then you're still running the risk of the contract applying. Further, like the above commenter wrote, do you have the money to defend against a lawsuit?

Consult an experience tech startup lawyer. Heck, you may even find one who has dealt with your company in the past and knows how to get a deal out of them.

Doing nothing, however, is a bad idea. An even worse idea is relying on the advice from folks here instead of the advice of a competent lawyer.

Comment: Re:Almost certainly unenforceable (Score 4, Informative) 467

by pacergh (#39014645) Attached to: Dealing With an Overly-Restrictive Intellectual Property Policy?

You're incorrect.

These agreements are enforceable. There are limits, and things well beyond the work you do for the company may very well be excluded from the agreement, but how often is that the case?

If you are a programmer, and work for a company as a programmer, and create a work on your own that involves programming, then it is related to the work you do for the company.

Beware the advice you receive on Slashdot about this.

If you think there is a chance you can make money off of a potential side project, protect yourself and your partners by hiring a tech startup lawyer.

Otherwise you may be paying a lot more in legal fees down the road.

And I am a lawyer, and this is an area in which I practice.

Comment: Re:Can't be proved (Score 2) 467

by pacergh (#39014277) Attached to: Dealing With an Overly-Restrictive Intellectual Property Policy?

This is not true. This kind of thing gets proven all the time. Think of all the time stamps on files. When things may be uploaded to something like Github. Or email messages to folks discussing the project.

Lawyers know how to prove this. To presume it's impossible is to invite a dangerous outcome.

Comment: Is it a work for hire or assignment? (Score 1) 467

by pacergh (#39014263) Attached to: Dealing With an Overly-Restrictive Intellectual Property Policy?

If the agreement you signed with your company only references works for hire, then it is possible that it may not apply to you. Work for hire does not apply to copyrights in software code. If the agreement is ambiguous, then it still may not apply. Software code would need to be assigned to your employer, and that can only be done in writing signed by you.

Talk with a lawyer specializing in tech startups. Make sure you collect your employee's manual and any contracts your signed before working with the company. A lawyer specializing in tech startups should be able to walk you through this minefield.

It's about more than just copyright. It's also about non-compete agreements (valid in some states, invalid in others), non-disclosure agreements, and other employment agreements which might restrict what you can do if you leave the company. And let's not forget patents as well.

When I have clients in these situations I try to find ways to negotiate with their employer for a carve out for specific types of work, or I advise my clients to leave their current job. In the end, these are the only two options you have to ensure you protect your legal right to the work you create. Even then, however, you have to look at restrictive covenants—non-competes, non-disclosures, etc.

Search the web or ask around for a tech startup lawyer near you.

Comment: It's not this complicated (Score 3, Informative) 308

by pacergh (#38815501) Attached to: Apple's iBooks EULA Drawing Ire

Apple can't acquire your copyright except through written contract. To paint this as an attempt to 'steal' your copyright in the books you write is simply incorrect.

Apple is merely trying to control how you distribute the files outputted by iBooks Author. This is done to try and keep up Apple's walled-garden approach.

Apple's EULA clearly indicates that copyright in the work is retained by the owner. (Section 2.d of the license.)

Apple's EULA still might not be cool, but it does not try and create an exclusive license. (And even if it did try, it fails.)

A lengthier analysis can be found here: The iBooks Author EULA: What does it really mean?

Comment: Re:Sovereign Immunity might bar the lawsuit (Score 1) 170

by pacergh (#37385256) Attached to: Authors' Guild Goes After University Book Digitization Projects

It does and it does not. You can sue the state to change its practices, but you cannot sue for money damages.

Unless you sue under a specific federal statute that allows money damages. One such example is Section 1983—a statute specifically designed to allow folks to sue for violations of civil rights and receive money damages. (Prior to this, you could sue and win, but all you'd get was a change in behavior.

There is no similar statute for copyright. At best the plaintiffs can stop the behavior, but they cannot get money damages in these cases.

Comment: Sovereign Immunity might bar the lawsuit (Score 2) 170

by pacergh (#37382410) Attached to: Authors' Guild Goes After University Book Digitization Projects

You can't sue a State or the federal government unless they specifically allow it. Some States might allow their state universities to be sued, but most do not. There is already caselaw involving courts upholding sovereign immunity in these kinds of cases.

Might be a bit of a stumbling block in regards to suing the entities under the state sovereign immunity umbrella.

Comment: Re:Usual "asking legal advice on Slashdot" post (Score 1) 519

by pacergh (#36946170) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With the Business Software Alliance?

Logic is one thing. Soundness is another. Your claim that the system fails you because the judge didn't believe you that the other side was lying is hollow.

A judge cannot, and should not, take your word on face value. There must be more than opinion evidence by one side to sustain a claim.

Did you prove the company was lying? It is one thing to know the company is lying and quite another to be capable of proving the lie.

And small claims is less formal, but that doesn't mean there aren't rules. You still have to make your basic case that all the elements of the claim exist (did you even check to see what those elements might be?) and you still have to present admissible evidence to prove your claim.

Did you do that? Do you even know what this means?

Here's another tip: Next time go to the courthouse library and read up on the procedures of the small claims court you want to bring a lawsuit in. Also, read up on the rules of evidence a bit. You need to have a basic understanding of them (i.e., what hearsay is generally), but the judges tend to help pro se folks along in small claims much more than they do in other courts.

In short, your complaints about the system appear to be based more out of annoyance at losing and ignorance of how it works. Yet, you blame the system and lawyers for your loss and your ignorance.

As Walter Sobchak said in The Big Lebowski: schwinn8, this isn't 'Nam. This is a court of law. There are rules.

Comment: Re:Usual "asking legal advice on Slashdot" post (Score 1) 519

by pacergh (#36940392) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With the Business Software Alliance?

Consumers have less protections in countries like the UK where there are loser pay systems. The only recourse for consumers in such systems is government regulation providing protection. This usually comes after the fact, however, and adds burdens to the legal system in different ways.

In short, your silver bullet is anything but. Your attempt at fixing a cost problem merely shifts the costs to other parties. Laws of unintended consequences, and all.

Comment: Re:Usual "asking legal advice on Slashdot" post (Score 1) 519

by pacergh (#36940368) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With the Business Software Alliance?

If you had hired a competent lawyer then the lawyer could have forced the company to produce the contract. (And forced the judge to play by the rules.)

The problem you have is that you thought you could use logical arguments to win. You can, but you have to structure those logical arguments through a specific legal system.

Think of a basic logical argument. A > B. B > C. Therefore, A > C. Simple. Easy. Logical.

Except if you want to make the argument, you have to know how to prove A > B. And prove B > C.

If you don't know the mechanisms the law allows to make these proofs, then the logical of the argument is valid, but your proof is unsound because you can't back up the underlying assumptions.

A lawyer should be trained to know how to get evidence into the record to do this. (Some forget their training, though, and some never got it.) Further, a good trial lawyer will know the best ways to present the evidence to the fact finder (judge or jury) so that not only will the evidence support the logical assumptions, but the evidence will support it in the strongest possible manner.

Another way to look at it is that you simply don't know the structural rules. It's like showing up to a baseball game expecting it to be played by football rules. The underlying logic of how you win—score more than the other guys—is valid, but the ways you get to that result are different.

Finally, just because small claims court is easier for non-lawyers (by reducing the amount and types of procedural rules), that doesn't mean the law changes. You still have requirements that must be met to sustain a legal case against another party. If it was really important, you should have sought legal advice.

As for lawyers not taking your case—that I can sympathize against. I can say I've taken small claims cases for cheap, in part to help folks out and less to make money, but many lawyers won't. This is for two reasons: (1) the money isn't much and (2) many lawyers feel less comfortable in small claims than in higher courts (because there are different rules).

Comment: Re:Punish Trolls (Score 1) 209

by pacergh (#36681562) Attached to: Lawyer Attempts To Trademark Bitcoin

Trademarks are not about common use but, rather, about how consumers will identify the mark. If the mark makes consumers think of the company claiming the mark then it can be registered.

Your argument that Bitcoin is a 'thing' is an argument that it is a generic term. This isn't really a good argument for Bitcoin because it's not generic. It is not really descriptive, either. It's more suggestive. This is neither the weakest nor the strongest type of mark. (There is a spectrum, in order of weakness to strength: generic, descriptive, generic, fanciful or arbitrary.)

The real reason why Bitcoin shouldn't be registered is that it fails to be a source indicator for any one entity. If I say Bitcoin, do you think of a company? No.

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