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Mark Grossman

Intellectual Property Issues

5 November 1998

Intellectual property legal issues can be treacherous for lawyers. In our increasingly digitized world, intellectual property is becoming even more important than it once was.

Who owns the copyright to the software? Who owns the customer list? What about the patent and trademark rights? As companies buy and sell valuable intellectual property assets, lawyers are called upon to make judgment calls about who owns what intellectual property. Even when the primary assets of a business aren't intellectual property, the business still typically has software, trademarks and a website. Do they own it so that they can sell it? Rarely are the answers clear.

Now, lawyers have a wonderful new tool to help them. It's a book by L.M. Brownlee called "Intellectual Property Due Diligence in Corporate Transactions" Investment, Risk Assessment, Management." The West Group publishes it.

It's a textbook for the uninitiated. For other intellectual property lawyers, it's a great reference book. For everybody, it's a checklist of what you should be doing. This is one area where you don't want to accidentally miss a step.

It's topics are cutting edge. It even has a chapter called "Internet Domain Name Audit." My library has several books that deal with domain name rights. This is the best treatment that I've ever seen of this rapidly evolving area. It starts by explaining the "anatomy of domain names." It offers newbies a complete explanation of top-level through third-level domains. It explains who has authority over the domain name system and how that evolved. It even discusses authority over the various national domains like ".fr," ".nl," and ".uk." Suffice it to say that the treatment is comprehensive.

The book is divided into five basic parts: "Preparing for Due Diligence," "Intellectual Property Audits," "Valuation," "Transaction and Post Transaction Considerations" and "Forms."

The entire book is strong, but the experienced practitioner is going to find the "Intellectual Property Audit" chapter to be the best part. It offers superb advice on what you need to consider in judging the strength of a company's intellectual property rights. It tells you the textbook part, but then it continues with advice based on the author's obviously extensive experience.

The audit section includes chapters on patent, trademark, copyright, domain name, trade secret and other types of intellectual property audits. Consistent with this book always being up-to-date, each chapter specifically discusses the Internet's impact on that part of an audit.

The forms in the book are very good starting points for what lawyers will need to serve their clients. The book even includes a floppy disk to make working with the forms easier.

In case you haven't noticed, I love this book. I welcome it to my library.

Intellectual Property Issues is republished from
Mark Grossman
Mark Grossman