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Welcome, and a few lessons from a favorite show

by Melissa Kann on 06/08/15

First, welcome to my new blog! I'm looking forward to (finally!) getting the chance to jot down my thoughts here from time to time, observations, etc., about the legal aspects of life in both the startup, and arts/entertainment world. Looking forward to your participation, too, and I hope we can start some interesting discussions here.

Okay, ready? Then away we go.....

(Minor spoiler ahead for Sunday night’s episode of the HBO series, “Silicon “Valley)

HBO's "Silicon Valley," how I love you! I admit, I’m really a fan because of the incredible and hilarious writing, but as a startup lawyer, I also love how, in between the giggles, you also deliver valuable lessons that, I hope, are absorbed by your fan base of entrepreneurs, creatives, and, you know, startuppy types. Great example – Sunday night’s episode, “Arbitration,” where Richard and Gavin finally go head to head in arbitration proceedings to settle who legally originated and owns the Pied Piper IP.

The issue ends up turning on whether Richard ever used any Hooli materials, time, or equipment to develop the Pied Piper technology. Additional spoilers not necessary (Seriously! Go watch the episode!), but two takeaway lessons:

First*, whatever your invention, don’t ever, ever use your employer’s resources to work on it – and yes, even minimal use counts. (*Actually, critical pre-first lesson, before you even start working on your new invention, take a look at the relevant IP and ownership clauses in any employment or other work agreements. Same goes for beginning a new job after you’ve already begun work on your invention. This is, btw, a great time to consult a lawyer.)

Second, keep an accurate, written inventor's logImportant proviso, though – and hopefully this one’s obvious, but if you’re going to do it, be sure you do it right. Keep in mind, a badly constructed, inaccurate, or improperly recreated record might also be used against you. Again, this is a great time to consider consulting an attorney for specific and tailored guidance. In general, though, be diligent and thorough with your record-keeping. Make it truthful, accurate, detailed, and timely (i.e., keep it in real time, no backdating).

So really, it comes down to following good, basic IP practices (again, find good legal counsel to guide you), and not letting Hooli steal your stuff!

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