After a Texas jury awarded $706 million to a housing data analytics startup based on claims of trade secret theft, major vulnerabilities were found in policies related to intellectual property law. Released information showed that the startup was distorting the facts of the case and misleading jurors. The case involved the use of the plaintiff's Automated Valuation Model, or AVM, a technology that's widely used in the online real estate industry.
Anyone in Texas worried about protecting their works from infringement should be aware that the sooner they register their copyrighted works, the more protected they'll be. That being said, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling recently that highlighted the importance of early registration: Simply put, a copyright owner cannot file litigation and protect their rights unless their work is already registered by the United States Copyright Office.
Intellectual property in Texas is protected by federal law. Heaven Hill, a Kentucky-based whiskey maker, is suing Bob Dylan's whiskey company over allegations of trademark infringement.
Marilyn Monroe fans throughout Texas may be interested to learn that the copyright protection of a photographer, Bert Stern, was recently upheld for a number of famous photos of Monroe. One federal district court judge ruled that a trust for the photographer's heirs rightfully holds the copyrights for 2,571 photos taken by Stern in June 1962. Taken weeks before the star's death, they are widely esteemed as some of the most iconic celebrity photographs of the period.
As information has become easier to share in the digital age, protecting trade secrets through litigation has become a more popular tool for a variety of companies. Due to the passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act, or DTSA, many of these cases have gone from Texas to federal jurisdiction, making the stakes even higher. DTSA disputes can involve everything from patent violations to misappropriation of trade secrets. More than a thousand cases have been filed since the law passed in 2016.
A person or entity is said to have a fiduciary duty if they're obligated to act in another party's best interest. If that person or entity fails to do so, they have breached their duties. Examples of a fiduciary include an attorney representing a client or a corporate officer representing a shareholder. It is important to note that this relationship must exist in accordance with applicable laws.
Texas entrepreneurs may often find that their intellectual property can be the most valuable part of their enterprise. From the trade name and logo of a business with high levels of goodwill, to the information systems that power a tech business, IP issues can be decisive in a business's success or failure. In addition, historical intellectual property can be particularly important, both for the current value of the income it produces as well as the positive associations that it is able to create.
Intellectual property can be a major concern for entrepreneurs and inventors in Texas and across the country. This is especially true for anyone developing software or other tech startups, as the technology industry is driven by the value of intellectual property. Well-known disputes over copyrights, trademarks, patents and other IP issues have resulted in long-running business litigation involving major players in the industry. Due to the high value of tech IP, handling the transfer of copyrights and patents as well as assessing their value can be some of the most critical aspects for evaluating a potential merger or acquisition.
If you are pursuing legal action against an entity, the last thing you want to worry about is the company going under or becoming insolvent due to a hefty judgment against it. This scenario brings about thoughts of Great Benefit Insurance filing for bankruptcy after Matt Damon’s character won a judgment against it in “The Rainmaker.”