Risk Management When Competitors Raid Your Employees



Picture this: You show up for work only to learn a key employee has submitted a letter of resignation. In your shock, you approach the employee. Then, the employee mentions getting a better offer from your biggest competitor.

“My employee knows all my secrets,” you fret. What should you do?

Unfortunately, your human and information capital are at-risk all the time. That’s especially the reality if you’re in technology or other high-growth sectors.

stockimages confused managerIt’s difficult to prevent poaching of your employees. You can consider asking employees to sign non-compete agreements.

You can also consider non-disclosure agreements. But in many states, non-compete agreements aren’t upheld by the courts. Not to mention you risk the high cost of litigation.

Furthermore, a policy of asking employees to sign non-competes can be a hindrance to your recruitment efforts. Many employees are opposed to the idea.

But if you’ve checked with your legal counsel and non-competes are lawful in your state, then they might be effective for you. If you decide to enact a non-compete policy, get expert advice before you proceed.

Make certain to include your non-compete policy in you employee handbook. Insert in the career section of your Web site as a deterrent seen by your competitors.

Businesses have two communication sources that are expenses that conversely are sources of profit – the external marketplace – and internal, their human capital. To enhance your internal communication, devote equal resources to employee programs and communication.

Incidentally there’s still a wide gap between what managers and workers think about trust. You can improve trust if you drive engagement with your employees.

Use all best-practices in employee retention (scroll down to the Coach’s Corner for links to six articles on key management and retention strategies).

Otherwise, the reality is that most employees aren’t loyal long term. Your fears about employees leaving for your competitors are valid.

You can lose your competitive edge if word gets to your competitors about your business processes and strategies. The loss of information capital can be devastating.

If competitors raid your employees, here are risk-management tips:

1. Accept the concept of employee mobility

Sooner or later, relationships can end. Don’t assume employees will stay forever. The key is to take steps to prevent them from leaving with your valuable information.

2. Understand what the laws govern

General skills and techniques learned by employees over time are not protected. On the other hand, if such skills give you a competitive advantage and aren’t universal knowledge, they might be considered trade secrets.

Trade secrets are unique processes and disclosure of them might be illegal. Trade secrets might even be a client’s favorite fixation. But you need expert legal counsel in your region to advise you if you have a case.

3. Communicate your policy to applicants

Tell your prospective employees not to share secrets from their employers with your company. Design a pre-employment interview agreement that stipulates applicants cannot share information from their previous employment.

This is to protect you from being sued. It also promotes a culture of respect. If any of your employees should want to leave, they’ll remember your statesmanlike policies and will be less inclined to share your secrets.

Incidentally there’s still a wide gap between what managers and workers think about trust. You can improve trust if you drive engagement with your employees.

4. Be generous with your key knowledge employees to keep them happy

Make sure your employees, especially knowledge workers, are appreciated and well-compensated. Remember non-financial incentives, including recognition programs, work very well in retaining employees.

5. Employ non-disclosure agreements if you can

Non-disclosure agreements vis-à-vis non-compete agreements should be given to new employees to read and sign before they start working.

They’ll be less inclined to share your information. Your competitors will be unlikely to encourage their new workers to disclose sensitive information from previous employers.

6. Again, be careful with non-compete agreements

Non-compete agreements are often disallowed by the courts and are expensive to enforce. When used effectively, non-compete agreements prevent employees from working for a competitor, competing for a duration of months or years, or from working in a certain region.

Non-disclosure agreements permit former employees to work for a competitor as long as they don’t disclose trade secrets.

7. Manage risks of the Digital Age

BYOD, or bring your own device, the Cloud, and file-sharing can create havoc. You need to explain to employees to be mindful of the business risks from their behavior. Preventing such problems usually entails training.

8. Be proactive in managing security

If you suspect employees of disclosing trade secrets, be vigilant and proactive. Know what trade secrets are known to your employees and whether they have accessed unauthorized information. Watch for any extra copying, downloading, e-mailing or deletion of information.

Assuming your company policy and the law allow it, copy and examine your employees’ hard drive. Analyze the persons’ e-mails, files and phone records to learn if information has been disingenuously shared and who received the information.

If it has been disclosed, consult your attorney and approach the employees. Your initial objective should be to get the information back and permanently prevent it from happening again. Then, you should deal with the individuals.

9. Be diligent in exit interviews

Don’t forget about exit interviews. During the meeting, learn about the employee’s intentions. Reiterate your concerns about trade secrets to protect your company.

If you learn others might leave, get your attorney involved. You’ll want to explore all relevant facts and take appropriate action.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant sources of information:

Human Resources — Red Flags You’re Losing an Employee — In employee retention, you never have to be surprised again. There are common traits among employees who are likely to quit — even those who are secretive about their plans. Surprisingly, workers who are reading job listings in non-work hours, leave work promptly at the end of the work day or who start taking more vacations — aren’t necessarily going to quit.

Management: How to Help Employees to Grow Professionally — Managers owe it to the organization to help their employees grow professionally. It’s hard, time-consuming work. But the return on investment is terrific. The organization benefits from higher employee performance and lower turnover. Strong employee retention obviously saves the employer a lot of time and money.

Non-financial Incentives Motivate Most Employees – Study — Want motivated workers? Recognition for good work is appreciated by 70 percent of workers – a great motivator for high performance, according to a study by two companies.

Tips for Marketing Your HR-Policy Changes to Employees — So you’ve identified workplace policies that need to be updated. But you want your policies to be accepted and followed by your employees. Employees are often uncomfortable with change even if it’s necessary for a business turnaround. Remember high morale among employees propels profits.

How Not to Worry about Keeping Your Top Employees — Increasingly, employers are worried about filling open slots and retaining their best workers, according to a 2012 survey of 526 human resources professionals. Sixty-one percent indicate they’re concerned about retention. That’s the conclusion from the study, “Retention of Key Talent and the Role of Rewards.”

Management/HR – How to Increase Profits via Employee Turnover — As cost centers, human resources have opportunities to shine whenever they act as profit centers. And employee turnover presents opportunities for companies to make money.

“Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated.” 
Robert McNamara 


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 





Photo courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Are You Up-to-Date in Managing Cyber Risk? Here’s How



A strange development is taking place. Businesspeople are increasingly concerned about risk management and data loss, but many are implementing the wrong solutions.

True, chief executives have finally learned that failure to deal with cyber-security threats will cost them their jobs. Not only are CEOs on notice.

They finally fear cyber-security threats, and boards of directors are directing them to strategize on cybercrime, too. The new strategic risks as a result of technological changes range from big data and cloud computing to social media.

As a result, executives are targeting five technology threats to company value.

ID-10088767 stockimagesHowever, many business and information-technology pros have been focused on the wrong issues in data loss and risk management. That’s according to a Vision Solutions’ 56-page report, “State of Resilience Report 2015.”

My impression of the salient reasons for data loss in information technology:

— Storage failure

— The lack of a backup copy

— Human error

— Data protection program malfunction

— A data protection solution that’s down for maintenance

— Corrupt data

All of this means companies are making decisions on uncertain data. Consequently, 62 percent of the survey’s respondents have postponed data migration over concerns of downtime or not having the right resources.

Therefore, with the uncertainties from globalization, meeting consumer needs, IT risks and complying with regulations – there are gaps in business strategy, data management and technology.

CEOs have long complained to me about information technology. They complain about high-priced consultants, and that IT projects are too expensive and fail to yield a return on investment. Further, two studies indicate the need for IT pros to get businesslike.

Daily data breaches have become the norm in news headlines. We’re also hearing a lot about strategies to manage third-party risks. They are a chief culprit in cybercrime. Your business associates might be bigger risks for data breaches than you realize, too.

Solutions

So what’s needed? That would be creative thinking.

Key questions you must ask of yourself:

  1. How are we focused on continuous improvement?
  2. What are the impending problems, and what are the solutions?
  3. Are we doing the right things to understand the needs of our customers – now and for the future?

All of this means companies are making decisions on uncertain data. Consequently, 62 percent of the survey’s respondents have postponed data migration over concerns of downtime or not having the right resources.

Chances are you’re not able to adequately answer the above three questions. Meantime, remember risks from cybercrime gather steam every day.

Not to complicate things, but here’s another question: How are you managing three Rs – resources to repurpose, redeploy and realign?

For bosses to guard against cyber risks, here are four must-do strategies:

  1. Bosses must communicate proactively in cyber-risk management. Communication with IT professionals must improve – dramatically. Analysis should include priorities, the potential dangers to information assets and the tradeoffs.
  2. CEOs must direct security initiatives at every level and opportunity. This includes being transparent with customers and potential customers in the marketplace before and after any cyber attack.
  3. CEOs must be role models in security. They must walk the talk in cyber security matters. Only then will they be effective in motivating staff to use security measures.
  4. CEOs must make sure all employees and vendors employ security controls and diligent follow policies. It should be an ongoing process to monitor security issues to insure progress.

Another proven method

To help accomplish these safeguards, a solution lies in borrowing a page from the insurance industry – employing an actuary skilled in risk management.

If you operate a company with sizable assets, the recommendation is to become sophisticated in analysis and by employing a risk manager. Don’t rush into it without adequate due diligence.

A key point to consider: Don’t hire just anybody. Hire someone who is astute about your industry and business.

You want someone who can help you meet your risk-management goals now and who can also securely help drive your business growth in strategic planning.

If you can’t recruit an experienced person with these skills, consider a bright, enthusiastic MBA.

You’ll sleep better at night.

From the Coach’s Corner, here is additional relevant information:

Risk Management – Making Best Decisions, Using Right Tactics — To prevent a crisis from interfering with the continuity of your business, you must strategically plan to manage any potential risks. That means avoiding the classic mistakes routinely made by companies, and making the right decisions for proactive measures to minimize any dangers.  But how can you best manage risk?

How to Avoid Failure in Risk Management and Strategic Planning — Incredible as it might seem, companies fail because they underestimate strategic risks – yes, strategic blunders instead of common sense – according to an authoritative study. Here are three recommendations.

Risk Management – Picking the Best Cloud Storage Provider — If you feel you must go the cloud route, remember choosing the right cloud storage provider is a must for risk management.

7 Thought Leadership Tactics for Strong Performance — For a company to achieve strong performance, its culture and employees must be aligned with business strategy to provide value. But more and more, it seems employees can’t even articulate business strategy. Therefore, management must identify and communicate effective programs that are aligned with employee behavior in order to blaze new paths and fuel business growth.

Risk Management – Lawyer Explains Basics in Protecting Intellectual Property — Entrepreneurs are well-advised to consider ways to avoid legal entanglements over their inventions and intellectual property.

“The greater danger for most of lies in not setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” 

-Michelangelo

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

How to Avoid Failure in Risk Management and Strategic Planning



Incredible as it might seem, companies fail because they underestimate strategic risks – yes, strategic blunders instead of common sense – according to an authoritative study.

Instead of studying the successes of companies, Booz & Company consultants took the opposite approach in a 2012 study. In “The Lesson of Lost Value,” Christopher Dann, Matthew Le Merle and Christopher Pencavel looked at the biggest losers.

“To be sure, during the past decade, companies have steadily dialed up their focus on risk, in part as a reaction to the requirements of the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002,” acknowledged the authors. “Individual functions such as accounting, finance, and compliance have improved risk controls.”

ID-10089781However, companies drop the ball.

The consultants concluded that compliance issues weren’t the reasons for corporate failures.

Senior management has often been misdirected.

“…they have usually done so with a bottom-up approach that has proven flawed,” they wrote.

Why?

Such companies have enterprise risk management (ERM) teams. ERM specialists are responsible for identifying and evaluating risks, and they start with an assumption – that senior executives are on the right track.

However, executives bypassed ERM in “what products and services to offer, whether to outsource manufacturing, or what acquisitions to make.” And the ERM folks aren’t apprised of the big picture.

Meantime, Messrs. Dann, Le Merle and Pencavel indicate the reasons for strategic risk have multiplied.

“Accelerating technology development is forcing the rapid adoption of new products, services, and business models; digital information is making organizations more vulnerable to theft and loss; supply chain disruptions quickly ripple around the globe, affecting both companies and customers; consumer connectivity via social networks can broadcast missteps instantaneously to millions of people worldwide; and natural, political, or regulatory shocks can reverberate widely,” they explained.

“For example, an ERM team can call attention to risks associated with doing business with manufacturers in Southeast Asia, but it can’t evaluate whether the company should be outsourcing to the region in the first place. This responsibility gap can be costly,” they offered.

What about shareholder value? Underestimating risk by CEOs also means too much risk for investors.

The consultants’ recommendations:

1. Broaden awareness about uncertainty and risk.

We expect change to continue accelerating and uncertainties to increase. Extreme events with extreme consequences cannot be accurately predicted, but they can be anticipated. Management teams need to think broadly about what could occur and constantly layer new risks into their calculations as these risks emerge.

2. Integrate risk awareness directly into strategic decision making.

By conducting more conversations about risk at the top levels of the company, looping in key individuals as needed, management acquires a full understanding of the uncertainties — both upside and downside — inherent in strategic decision making.

3. Focus on strategic resiliency.

Managers need to consider how strategic decisions can affect resiliency, incorporate resiliency into all decision making, and always be on the lookout for more strategically resilient alternatives in order to build greater corporate agility.

See the report.

Good stuff. The study makes a lot of sense.

In the past, I’ve questioned the approach by Carly Fioria at Hewlett-Packard (Leadership, HR, Marketing Lessons from HP’s Executive Turmoil).

Need another tech example? Consider Yahoo (Did Carol Bartz Use the Right Leader.ship Approach?).

You might also want to consider an aerospace example (Boeing, Airbus Rivalry – Lessons in Strategic Planning).

From the Coach’s Corner, regarding the mistake executives usually make in mergers:  They must consult HR pros first.

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

-Warren Buffett


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Image courtesy imagerymajestic at www.freedigitalphotos.net


Risk Management – Picking the Best Cloud Storage Provider



There’s been quite a buzz about using the cloud. Personally, I’m still not sold on using cloud services for many businesses.

There have been too many problems, and I prefer to maintain controls to alleviate uncertainty in business.

But companies such as IBM continue to tout what they call success.

IBM explains in this video:

Aside from the pride that IBM shows, one of the lessons I learned very early — when there’s a lot of hype — go slow with due diligence.

Frankly, I’m not alone.

Critical cloud study

A heavily credentialed expert performed a study and provides this surprise: Open source technology is preferable to the cloud.

But if you feel you must go the cloud route, remember choosing the right cloud storage provider is a must for risk management.

You have a vast array of options. Cost is important, of course, but so are your company’s risk-management needs – just like the federal government.

It’s took two years, but the government launched FedRamp, the federal risk and authorization program.

It established security standards for providing cloud services to the government.

FedRAMP also provides agencies with monitoring tools to insure continuous compliance with security standards. Those are important considerations.

Risk-management for your business

Here are 10 questions to ask of your prospective cloud provider:

1. If they’re a large provider, has the vendor been qualified by FedRAMP?

2. What is the company’s financial situation? Bankruptcies are prevalent. Have a frank discussion with the supplier. Find out if they expect to gain or lose business in the next year. And ask about their cash flow, and for references regarding the status of their banking relationships.

3. What would be their total charges? Is it a flat fee? What are the additional costs for storing each gigabyte or for transferring data?

4. What about the security of their services, privacy commitment and data protection, and what does their service level agreement (SLA) provide? Keep in mind commitments for performance and reliability, and what happens if they fail to perform according to the SLA.

5. What do they provide in the way of data availability each month? What will be the percentage of time you will be able to get into your data or add new data?

6. What do they provide in data transfer rates? Data storage is important, but so is your ability to rapidly transfer your data.

7. What level of data durability do they offer? That is the amount of potential data loss from data corruption.

8. Does the vendor provide data shuffle or bare metal service? This service is a hard copy backup. Will you be able to present a hard-drive data copy to the cloud or will you be able to retrieve a copy of your data?

9. What do they support in operating systems? Make certain they’re capable of working with all your operating systems.

10. What are their backup services? You’ll have problems if they simply backup your data. You’ll also want assurances that they will back up all your computer applications and operating system, and will provide virtual servers for crashed systems.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are recommended articles:

The New Face of $1 Trillion in Cybercrime on Business – Account Takeovers, Credit Card Fraud — Business Web sites are facing an increasingly intense full-court press from cybercriminals – the aggregate cost of cybercrime annually, which includes prevention strategies, has exceeded $1 trillion. 

Security Steps for Your Mobile Device in Online Banking, Purchases — Almost 90 percent of Americans use a cell phone and more than 50 percent have smartphones, according to published reports. They also indicate 28 percent of smartphone owners use their devices for online banking.

How to Enhance Security in Your Company’s Wireless Network — Do you take it for granted that your wireless network is secure? Don’t make that assumption. Wireless routers present dangers. Your router is vulnerable to hackers and, hence, security issues. If you’re really serious about security, WIFI might not be for you. A wired network might be more desirable. 

How Small Businesses Can Profit from Cyber Strategies — Yes, it’s become important for small businesses to capitalize on cyber strategies for profit. Small and even regional retailers should be cognizant of three realities: Potential customers probably think that national chains have easier-to-shop Web sites. Big retailers have lower prices.

“It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.”
Steve Jobs


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 




First Step in Fighting Lawsuit Abuse – Risk Management



Published reports on two southern California media Web sites illustrated the polarizing effects of laws affecting business. They’re still applicable now even though they were published in November 2011.

The first article in Signon San Diego, “Businesses fight ‘abusive’ lawsuits, explains the fears and concerns of many small businesses. Written by Tanya Mannes, it describes how a legal-reform organization is leading the fight against what it terms as lawsuit abuse in California.

A group calling itself California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) has issued a report showing what it believes are large number of disingenuous lawsuits, and is lobbying the California Legislature for legal reforms.

Ms. Mannes quoted a CALA regional director, Maryann Maloney Marino:

“Anybody can be subject to a lawsuit in California…More than 1.4 million lawsuits were filed last year alone, but that does not take into account the hundreds or thousands of demand letters businesses get.”

As part of its marketing, the group launched a Facebook page.

Yes, as a biz coach, I’m empathetic for business having to cope with the litigious environment in California and across the nation.

Sexual abuse case

On first glance, a second article would seem to support the group’s cause. The CBS headline reads: “Jury Awards Woman $65M In Punitive Damages.”

However, the article – one of many on the case – explains how and why jurors reacted to a healthcare company that employed a male nursing assistant who sexually abused a patient. Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center and its former owner Tenet Healthcare Corp. were ordered to pay the victim $2.36 million in compensatory damages.

The article also relates how the jurors in their deliberations were so deeply moved they arrived at the $65-million figure in punitive damages.

“Anybody can be subject to a lawsuit in California…More than 1.4 million lawsuits were filed last year alone, but that does not take into account the hundreds or thousands of demand letters businesses get.”

Little wonder. The article indicated the jurors weren’t convinced the company was doing its best as a healthcare organization – were they thinking this was an example of the term, oxymoron?

To exacerbate the situation, the employee-predator, a fugitive, was cited on Fox television’s “America’s Most Wanted” two years in a row.

Two key questions

Moreover, the case raises salient questions – for starters: What about the hospital’s recruitment policies, background checks, and management procedures?

And why was a male nursing assistant even allowed intimate access to a female patient? Other professions, like police agencies and physicians, have noteworthy safeguards in gender protections.

The lesson? To prevent being hit by a lawsuit, do your due diligence in risk management.

Conduct a SWOT analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then, take the necessary proactive steps for good stewardship. Document everything for a paper trail.

You’ll sleep better. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are other employer tips:

“The first step in the risk management process is to acknowledge the reality of risk. Denial is a common tactic that substitutes deliberate ignorance for thoughtful planning.”

-Charles Tremper


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






Risk Management – Lawyer Explains Basics in Protecting Intellectual Property



Each hour, it seems, news headlines are published about patents. Normally, patent headlines are a sign of business friction as the case has been with Xerox vs. Google and Yahoo, and Apple vs. Nokia.

So it’s extraordinary for adversaries such as Google and Yahoo to be on the same side. Xerox filed a patent lawsuit naming the two search giants alleging they are violating automatic query and information patents, according to InformationWeek.

It’s also rare when you can spot a positive news headline regarding patents. Note this PC World headline:  “Microsoft, Amazon Strike Patent Licensing Deal.”  This means Microsoft and Amazon.com will each tap into the other company’s technology. As part of the arrangement, Microsoft will receive payments from Amazon.com.

Entrepreneurs are well-advised to consider ways to avoid legal entanglements over their inventions and intellectual property.

Here’s an example: Apple vs. Nokia. The case was finally settled before the U.S. International Trade Commission. Apple agreed to pay Nokia an undisclosed fee and regular royalty payments to license patents.

Sounds serious, doesn’t it – it’s time to turn to a noted patent attorney for an explanation of this case.

“Generally, two firms of this size may posture, but then settle, especially as their respective patent portfolios are so large.” says Adam L.K. Philipp, founder of the AEON Law firm (www.aeonlaw.com).

Custom image

Adam L.K. Philipp – AEON Founder


He speaks from experience. He says his current clients  include:  “RealNetworks, Wetpaint, PhotoBucket (formerly Ontela), SEOmoz, Appature, Winshuttle, Kashless, HealthUnity, AirSplat.com, and many more.”

China makes a lot of intellectual property headlines.

Is China getting a bad rap?

“China is becoming an intellectual property powerhouse; a bit like a very large high college football player.  Young and inexperienced, but having a lot of potential and with the right seasoning has the ability to go to the NFL,” explains the Seattle attorney.

“Generally I tell my clients that it is not enough to have a business partner or intellectual property in China, you want to give your business partner the tools to use by filing for intellectual property protection in China,” adds Mr. Philipp.

Intellectual property problems

Entrepreneurs face five common problems in intellectual property (IP).

He says the five IP issues include:

  1. Waiting too long to seek IP protection
  2. Talking about their technology before securing protection
  3. Spending too little money on IP protection
  4. Spending too much money on IP protection
  5. Spending money on the wrong IP protection

“From a business perspective it is always important to think of intellectual property as providing a business with business tools,” he says. “By simply understanding IP better, businesses can make better decisions on a cost/benefit basis of how or if to proceed with IP protection.”

Why patents are needed

He believes patents are needed for five reasons:

  1. To obtain exclusivity in their market (barriers to entry for others).  Also to satisfy investors.
  2. To obtain licensing revenue
  3. For bragging rights (PR)
  4. For cross-licensing opportunities
  5. All of the above

How about trademarks?

“Securing the investment in a brand and the associated goodwill,” explains Mr. Philipp. “It is expensive and distracting to entrepreneurs and their customers to change a brand.  Registering a trademark can help to avoid that.”

He warns about the importance of copyrights. “Registering copyrights allows a rights hold much easier and cheaper enforcement options.  In particular access to statutory damages that can be quite effective in copyright litigation.”

He’s knowledgeable in the core issues in business-method patents, such as Bilski. Bilski was a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and later debated at the U.S. Supreme Court. But the high court’s decision still left questions about what can be patented.

What’s Bilski all about?

“The core issues revolve around the United States’ policy of protecting innovation; and deciding what types of innovations are worthy of patent protection,” Mr. Philipp says. “If is it merely a method of doing business, is that the kind of thing our Founding Fathers really wanted enshrined in the Constitution as protectable?”

Verbiage regarding patents, obviously, is technical, such as the machine or transformation test.

“That a process patent must either be tied to a particular machine or apparatus or must operate to change articles or materials to a ‘different state or thing’,” he explains. “Currently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office merely requires a recitation of a particular computer performing the process for software inventions.”

Bottom-line: When does he recommend inventors seek a patent attorney?

“As soon as they decide to build a business around their idea(s),” he concludes. “But that does not mean that they need to start filing for protection right away, rather that they should be informed and strategic about how they allocate their budget.”

Pay heed to this information, if you want to avoid unnecessary headaches.

Need more information on the patent process? See: 6 Patent Tips to Protect Your Inventions, Intellectual Property.

From the Coach’s Corner, on a lighter note courtesy of Forbes, here are images of The Kookiest Inventions. (I haven’t verified whether any have made money.)

“Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.”

— Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.